The real cost of Biden's stimulus plan
Since the start of the pandemic, the federal government has taken historic steps to provide nearly $4 trillion in financial and public health assistance to the American people, with one goal in mind: defeating the virus and getting our country back to normal.
Unfortunately, President Biden and Washington Democrats’ latest $1.9 trillion stimulus package focuses more on fulfilling partisan priorities than combating COVID-19.
In fact, only 9 percent of their legislation goes to public health spending, while the other 91 percent addresses political items unrelated to the pandemic.
Rather than spend trillions of additional taxpayer dollars on liberal wish list items, while more than $1 trillion in previously allocated COVID relief dollars remain unspent, Congress should work together on a bill that is temporary, targeted, and tied to COVID-19. The latest stimulus package fails on each account.
In response to questions about the enormous price tag of his proposal, President Biden recently asked, “What would they have me cut?”
The $12 billion in foreign aid. Why is the so-called “American Rescue Plan” sending taxpayer dollars overseas to non-Americans?
The $510 billion in local and state bailouts, which will be allocated based on average unemployment since December. That means the majority of these funds will reward Democrat governors for repressive shutdown policies despite the fact that state revenues have rebounded since the start of the pandemic. For instance, California is set to receive $40 billion even though Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that state has a $15 billion surplus.
The $86 billion to prop up multiemployer pension plans.
The $34 billion to expand Obamacare.
The $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts.
The $135 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The $112 million for an underground rail project in Silicon Valley — a pet project of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The $1.5 million for the Seaway International Bridge — a pet project of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Even the vast majority — 95 percent — of the $130 billion for K-12 schools will not actually help get kids back in the classroom because it will not be spent this year.
The disconnect between Washington politicians and the American people is perhaps best exemplified by the Democrats’ crusade for a $15 minimum wage at a time when our small businesses are struggling to survive.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office forecasts (https://www.cbo.gov/publication/56975) that increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour would kill 1.4 million jobs, increase the deficit by $54 billion, and result in higher prices for consumers.
Similarly, a nationwide survey (https://restaurant.org/downloads/pdfs/advocacy/minimum-wage-impact-survey-february-2021.pdf) performed by the National Restaurant Association recently found that 82 percent of restaurant operators report a minimum wage hike would negatively impact their ability to recover from the pandemic. The same survey found that a minimum wage hike would force them to reduce the number of their employees, cut hours and benefits, and move toward job-killing automation.
In sum, this package does more to advance Washington Democrats’ political aims than deliver meaningful relief to the American people. And it comes at a significant cost to taxpayers.
Because of how this latest proposal has been fast-tracked through Congress, the $1.9 trillion cost must be offset, which could trigger cuts to existing federal programs that seniors, veterans, and farmers rely on. That could include an approximately $30 billion cut to the Medicare program every year for the next 10 years starting in 2022, as well as cuts to payments to military retirement and farm support programs.
Given the staggering cost of this proposal, it is easy to forget that money we spend now will need to be repaid in the future. Whether we borrow this money, print it, or take it from other parts of the federal budget, it has to come from somewhere.
Somebody always pays.
It did not have to be this way. Most Republicans are eager to work with Democrats on bipartisan programs addressing the pandemic, including vaccine distribution, school reopening, and support for small businesses and workers.
But with this partisan proposal, President Biden and Washington Democrats are gearing up to spend money we don’t have to pay for items we don’t need, the cost of which will be paid by Americans for generations.
Fred Keller is a Republican member of the United States Congress, representing Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District.