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March 5, 2021

The Economy Doesn’t Need ‘COVID Relief’

Jobs and GDP are growing, so why are Dems forcing through $1.9 trillion in largely unrelated spending?

American businesses hired new workers at an impressive clip in February, adding an expectation-shattering 379,000 jobs. Headline unemployment dropped to 6.2%. This comes after recent news that fourth-quarter GDP growth was revised up to 4.1%, with expectations at 5% or higher for the first quarter of 2021.

Is this economic surge thanks to all those Joe Biden executive orders? Hardly. It’s what happens when the economy is allowed to reopen as the coronavirus recedes. It’s what happens when, as Biden termed it, governors employ “Neanderthal thinking” about COVID restrictions.

WIth the economy growing again, inquiring minds might then want to know why Congress is negotiating another $1.9 trillion spending bill that’s ostensibly for “COVID relief” — especially when the quote marks there reference the Republican contention that just 9% of the bill is actually about COVID.

It is true that the economy has a long way to go to return to the rip-roaring days of Donald Trump’s success. There are still 9.5 million fewer jobs than there were just one year ago. But House Democrats addressed that problem by loading their COVID bill with the $15 minimum wage that will kill, not create, perhaps millions of jobs. The Senate bill does not include that provision, but only because the parliamentarian ruled it cannot be in a bill passed under reconciliation rules that require only a bare majority.

The Senate did advance its bill yesterday for a floor vote, but Republican leaders plan to require that the Senate clerk actually read aloud the bill’s hundreds of pages. Their strategy is to highlight all the non-COVID portions of the bill, though Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gloated, “We are delighted … to give the American people another opportunity to hear what’s in the American Rescue Plan.”

Oddly enough, the supposed Party of the People™ is cutting money for the people because the package is too expensive for moderates like Joe Manchin. Rather than cut the lard that has nothing to do with helping Americans through the pandemic, Senate Democrats now aim to restrict who gets the $1,400 relief checks, lowering the income threshold at which the checks phase out.

Now, don’t misunderstand: We’re not advocating this Universal Basic Income trial run as good policy. But if your aim is a populist bill geared toward getting money quickly into the hands of millions of Americans, why not cut the parts of the bill that don’t do that instead of the parts that do?

Meanwhile, we suppose we’ll have to remain the voice crying out in the wilderness, but someone has to sound the alarm. The Congressional Budget Office just released a new estimate that Congress’s spending spree has set the nation on course to accumulate $100 trillion in new debt over the next 30 years. Debt will more than double GDP, and due in part to the interest on that debt, annual federal spending will exceed an unprecedented 30% of GDP.

Our great-grandchildren will thank us later.

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