Most of the $1.9 trillion House bill has little to do with the virus and is being called “little more than a wishlist for the radical left masquerading as a COVID relief package.”
Fox News reports:
House Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill is a socialist “wish list” that will also subsidize blue states that have mismanaged their budgets for years, Sean Hannity told viewers Monday.
“No Democrat spending bill is complete without subsidies for illegal immigrants, federal money for abortions. If [ths bill is] passed … Planned Parenthood will now qualify for PPP small business loans, which then become grants and bridges to Canada and environmental justice equity commissions for farmers, health care in other countries,” the “Hannity” host said.
“[It’s] also a budget bailout … for New York, for Andrew Cuomo, and Gavin Newsom in California. This is not a serious, thoughtful COVID relief package. What this really is, is a massive federal payout to everyone and every state who donated to and supported Democrat candidates in 2020.”
“Even during a global crisis,” Hannity added, “the left is constantly playing political games.”
The host added that Democrats have shown that are not taking coronavirus relief as seriously as they should be, pointing to a bill from Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., that would ban former President Donald Trump from being buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
“In the middle of a pandemic, when over 100,000 Americans [have] died during Joe Biden’s time in the White House, raging against President Trump is still the Democratic Party and the media mob’s top priority,” he said.
“Clearly the same Democrats have been in no particular rush to pass a COVID relief package and get money into the hands of Americans who actually need it,” Hannity concluded. “The bulk of spending [in the COVID bill] is unrelated to getting immediate assistance to our fellow Americans in need through no fault of their own. In fact, nearly $700 billion won’t be spent until after 2022, including billions not spent until after 2024.”
“So we must ask ourselves tonight, how is that COVID relief?”
Over the weekend, the U.S. House posted a first draft version of the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” – a $1.9 trillion emergency aid package to help America recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Previous legislation has already provided at least $4 trillion in funds for testing, paid family leave, small business relief, direct payments to individuals and families, the Kennedy Center, and a plethora of non-related COVID “relief.”
Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team essentially wrote the bill, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found what House Democrats consider coronavirus-recovery “essential” spending:
- $1.5 million earmarked for the Seaway International Bridge, which connects New York to Canada. Senate Leader Chuck Schumer hails from New York.
- $50 million for “family planning” – going to non-profits, i.e. Planned Parenthood, or public entities, including for “services for adolescents[.]”
- $852 million for AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps Vista, and the National Senior Service Corps – the Corporation for National and Community Service – civic volunteer agencies. This includes $9 million for the AmeriCorp inspector general to conduct oversight and audits of the largess. AmeriCorps received a $1.1 billion FY2020 appropriation.
People of goodwill can debate each of these goals, but is it truly emergency spending or funding related to COVID?
For example, what is the public purpose for a hike in the minimum wage to $15 per hour – which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says will cost the economy 1.4 million jobs?
Certainly, the coronavirus stimulus bill does provide $473 billion in payments to individuals, $75 billion in cash for vaccines, $26 billion to restaurants, $15 billion to help fund airline payrolls, and another $7.2 billion in Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses.
However, The Wall Street Journal editorial board estimated that only $825 billion was directly related to COVID-relief and $1 trillion was “expansions of progressive programs, pork, and unrelated policy changes.”
For example, separately, our auditors found that $470 million in the bill doubles the budgets of The Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment of the Arts and the Humanities.
- $200 million in the bill to The Institute of Museum and Library Services (FY2019 budget: $230 million). This agency is so small that it doesn’t even employ an inspector general.
- $270 million funds the National Endowment of the Arts and the Humanities (FY2019 budget: $253 million) – In 2017, our study showed eighty-percent of all non-profit grant making flowed to well-heeled organizations with over $1 million in assets.
A quick spotlight on agencies and entities receiving “coronavirus recovery” money in the bill includes:
- $350 billion to bailout the 50 States and the District of Columbia. The allocation formula uses the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2020. Therefore, states like New York and California –who had strict economic lockdown policies and high unemployment – will get bailout money. States like Florida and South Dakota – who were open for business – will get less.
- $128.5 billion to fund K-12 education. The CBO determined that most of the money in education will be distributed in 2022 through 2028, when the pandemic is over.
- $86 billion to save nearly 200 pension plans insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. There are no reforms mandated while these badly managed pensions are bailed-out. Many of these pension plans are co-managed by unions.
- $50 billion goes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A portion of these funds is earmarked to reimburse up to $7,000 for funeral and burial costs related to COVID deaths.
- $39.6 billion to higher education. This amount is three times the money – $12.5 billion – that higher ed received with the massive CARES Act funding from last March.
- $1.5 billion for Amtrak – the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. In FY2020, Congress appropriated $3 billion for Amtrak ($2 billion in annual appropriations, plus an additional $1 billion in the CARES Act COVID relief bill). In the three years before the pandemic, AMTRAK lost $392 million – even after a $5 billion taxpayer subsidy (FY2017-FY2019).
We reached out to Speaker Pelosi for comment and will update the piece if there is a response.
During the past three years, Republicans and Democrats have helped drain the U.S. Treasury from the left and the right. Our national debt increased from $10 trillion (2008) to $19.6 trillion (2016) to $23.6 trillion (2020) and stands at $28 trillion today.
Continuing coronavirus responses and bloated legislation will drive the national debt much higher.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The Biden White House is pointing to polls showing that its $1.9 trillion spending bill is popular, and the press corps is cheering. Yet we wonder how much public support there’d be if Americans understood that most of the blowout is a list of longtime Democratic spending priorities flying under the false flag of Covid-19 relief.
Let’s dig into the various House committee bills to separate the Covid from the chaff. The Covid cash includes some $75 billion for vaccinations, treatments, testing and medical supplies. There’s also $19 billion for “public health,” primarily for state health departments and community health centers. One might even count the $6 billion to the Indian Health Service, or $4 billion for mental health.
The package also hands more to businesses and individuals most hit by lockdowns. That includes $7.2 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program, $15 billion for economic injury disaster loans, $26 billion for restaurants, bars and live venues, and $15 billion in payroll support for airlines. The recipients of this taxpayer money will at least be required to prove economic harm, and in some cases repay loans.
Not so the recipients of the $413 billion in checks Democrats intend to send to households far and wide, at $1,400 per man, woman and dependent, that begins phasing out at $75,000 of individual income. The Congressional Budget Office says the bill’s unemployment provisions will increase deficits by $246 billion, and that its $400 a week in federal “enhanced” unemployment benefits through August “could increase the unemployment rate as well as decrease labor force participation.” So much for economic stimulus.
All told, this generous definition of Covid-related provisions tallies some $825 billion. The rest of the bill—more than $1 trillion—is a combination of bailouts for Democratic constituencies, expansions of progressive programs, pork, and unrelated policy changes.