On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion dollar relief package. It sends direct payments of up to $1,400 to citizens and extends a $300 per week unemployment supplement. “This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said as he signed the bill. All Republicans in both chambers voted against the bill with just one Democrat (Rep. Jared Golden, (D-Maine) voting no. That night President Biden spoke to the country and opened his remarks by criticizing President Trump saying his predecessor was “in denial for days, week, then months that led to more deaths, more infections, more stress and more loneliness.” Biden said all Americans would be eligible for vaccine inoculation by May 1st and the country could start to get back to some sort of normal by July 4th. Three observations:
First, Biden’s disparaging remarks about Trump were inappropriate and untrue. Trump wasn’t in denial about COVID. He shut down travel from China and other countries weeks before other world leaders did to slow down the spread. He initiated Operation Warp Speed to facilitate development of a vaccine, which was accomplished in record time. Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to the White House’s COVID team, credited Warp Speed for spurring the development of a vaccine at an unprecedented pace. “We’re grateful for the work that came before us and are doing the best we can to continue it and accelerate it,” Slavitt said on Fox News. “I would absolutely tip my hat. … The Trump administration made sure that we got in record time a vaccine up and out. That’s a great thing and it’s something we should all be excited about.” Perhaps Biden should listen to his own advisors and stop politicizing COVID. He is benefiting from Trump’s work.
Second, the COVID relief bill includes spending unrelated to COVID. $350 billion of the total relief bill spending is divided between the 50 states to fill budget holes. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, 15% of the total goes to pet projects for Democrats, which include a $1.5 million bridge connecting New York and Canada, a $100 million underground rail project in Silicon Valley, $480 million for Native American language preservation and maintenance and $50 million in environmental justice grants.
Congressman Tom Cole, (R-OK), says less than 10% of the total goes to actually COVID relief. “While Democrats’ fake coronavirus rescue package had a very few egregious provisions removed during its trip over to the U.S. Senate, the final version headed to the president’s desk remains deeply partisan and extremely liberal. In fact, even socialist Senator Bernie Sanders has called it the most progressive legislation he has ever voted for or seen passed in his congressional career …. Those are telling descriptions of what this legislation is actually meant to achieve, and that is not delivery of coronavirus relief,” Cole said.
Third, the ‘relief’ will be paid for by future generations. In the past year, Congress has passed six bills and spent $4 trillion dollars dealing with COVID. The first five passed with bi-partisan support, but Republicans rightly balked at this one because of the pork the Democrats crammed in it. Spending money we don’t have on pet projects is irresponsible and puts a fiscal burden on future taxpayers.
In his 24-minute speech, President Biden mentioned the ‘collective suffering’ of Americans over the past year. Clearly 2020 was a challenge but if the federal government doesn’t become fiscally responsible, that collective suffering will be for generations.
Steve Fair is Chairman of the 4th district of the Oklahoma Republican Party. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His blog is stevefair.blogspot.com.