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Blue State Blues: What’s Really Wrong with the ‘COVID Relief’ Bill

BY JOEL B. POLLAK

When Democrats passed their $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill this week, they did far more than provide money for vaccines, or for Americans struggling to find work.

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They used much of the spending to bail out Democrat-run cities whose long-term budget problems predated the pandemic.

They used billions to bail out the ailing pension systems of their union allies — with no reforms demanded in return.

And they funneled billions to interest groups that elected them, like public school employees.

We have seen this pattern before.

Democrats used the 2008 financial crisis to win the presidency, even though they helped to create the crisis by refusing to regulate quasi-government housing lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff of the incoming Barack Obama White House, declared: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

And so they used much of the $862 billion “stimulus” in 2009 to reward their allies rather than to generate job-creating growth.

The so-called “American Rescue Plan” is the sequel.

After a year of massive coronavirus relief bills, all signed by then-President Donald Trump — many of which were delayed by Democrats for purely political reasons — we are now told that Biden’s bill will “rescue” the economy.

Just as President Joe Biden is claiming credit for vaccines that he once scorned, Democrats will take credit for an economic recovery that already exists, largely because Republicans reopened their states.

Democrats seized the opportunity of the coronavirus pandemic to create political chaos for the Trump administration, including the “Black Lives Matter” unrest of last spring and summer.

Now they are seizing the opportunity to shower cash on their supporters — for decades.

There are, to be sure, some good things in the bill. Many Republicans support the airline bailout, for example, given the thousands of jobs at stake.

But the rest of the bill is so radical that no Republican could support it.

The White House isn’t even hiding the truth anymore.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki declared the “COVID relief” bill the “most progressive bill in American history” — more than the Civil Rights Act of 1964, more than the entire New Deal, or the Great Society.

Biden preached “unity” and pretended to want a bipartisan bill, but when ten Republican Senators arrived with their own proposal, he didn’t bother to negotiate at all.

This was to be bill of the Democrats, by the Democrats, for the Democrats.

Some Republicans complain about the high cost of the bill. They are right, though their complaints lack credibility, after Trump signed trillions in relief and ran high deficits for years.

The problem is not that Republicans spent too much or taxed too little. The problem is that Democrats never allow any spending cuts, except on the military, the police, and the border — the basic functions of government. Trump spent what was needed on those and hoped economic growth would fill the gap.

There will be growth: there already is, though Biden and his party talked down the economy in the hope of making the case for “emergency” relief.

A few economists on the left, notably Larry Summers, warned that the bill could put so much money into the economy that it could overheat, causing inflation and forcing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, killing the recovery. They were marginalized for daring to venture an honest opinion in a left-wing climate deeply hostile to dissent.

But inflation is not the danger. Rather, the danger is that there is no longer any constraint on the majority in Congress.

As in 2008, when the outgoing George W. Bush administration spent $700 billion to bail out Wall Street, Democrats have taken an emergency and made it the norm.

They do not ask about economic tradeoffs; whether bailing out bankrupt cities might create perverse incentives; or what effect a “guaranteed income” in the bill will have on our national character.

The $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill is soon to be followed by a $2.5 trillion infrastructure bill — after Democrats prevented Trump from doing anything on infrastructure — and a $2 trillion bill on “climate change.”

More than the rising national debt, which is held in dollars anyway, the problem with runaway spending is that the party in power can spend to keep itself in power.

Democrats never have to face the hard, grownup decisions; those are for Republicans. Who wants to vote for those?

Democrats also hope to end the Senate filibuster and push through H.R. 1, the so-called “For the People Act,” which will change our elections in ways that make it impossible for Republicans to win.

Yet the “COVID relief” bill could achieve the same objective.

It will help some Americans — and no one begrudges them — but it will also corrupt our democracy by letting Democrats reward themselves and their supporters in ways that could keep Republicans out of power indefinitely.

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March 11, 2021 2:45 pm 2:45 PM

[…] Blue State Blues: What’s Really Wrong with the ‘COVID Relief’ Bill […]

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