Congress served its own interests rather than ours with the relief bill
The latest coronavirus relief bill is anything but relieving. The $990 billion monstrosity shows how Congress used an emergency to slip in numerous unrelated items under the cloak of an essential stimulus. Instead of acting in the interests of our nation in a time of crisis, the transition between the administrations revealed that lawmakers from both parties are not really concerned with us. They are concerned with themselves. The bill and its lost priorities demonstrate that Congress abdicated its duty once more and will continue this until there is an electoral reckoning.
The debate over the stimulus checks is a sideshow. Instead of a bill that tackles our current challenges, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle signed this porkful mess that acts as a reward for their own projects and donors. Congress would have us believe that it is so stalled that it cannot get anything done. But members of the legislative branch have an ability to work swiftly when their actions serve their own interests.
The bill would make even the most spendthrift person transform into Ron Paul. The unrelated items are nearly endless and become more insulting as you read. At over more than 5,590 pages, the coronavirus relief bill and the omnibus spending bill consists of more than $1 billion in foreign aid that includes $10 million for gender programs in Pakistan, $23 billion for higher education funds that include a provision to encourage prisoners to attend college, $1 billion for the Smithsonian, over $1 million to the House Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and funds for a research project about a race riot that occurred more than a century ago in Illinois.
The terrible mistakes of the first stimulus are built on in this second one. The Kennedy Center receives $40 million in addition to the $25 million it received in the first round, while overall funds for the arts is at $15 billion. Lawmakers were also sure to take care of themselves and snuck in some costs at the Senate daycare center. The bill increases government power by ending bad surprise medical billing and replacing it with a bastion of federal bureaucrats to oversee the practice. These unrelated items are an insult to the taxpayers who will be forced to foot the bill.
Congress wants to use funds on such initiatives while Americans suffer. The total cost belies how little the bill allocates toward direct coronavirus relief. Just $166 billion is for stimulus checks, while $120 billion is for an extension of the enhanced unemployment checks, and $56 billion is for health care items. A majority of the bill is unrelated to the coronavirus, unless you count $284 billion for business loans, another $16 billion for the airlines, or $10 billion to write off Postal Service debt.
The fact that this bill passed with a massive bipartisan majority is not an indicator that Washington is suddenly working again. Rather, it shows the swamp knows that it can only get things done with mutual spending on the priorities with each party. So if Americans continue to vote for selfish lawmakers, this will be a preview for more abusive measures in the future. Lawmakers from both sides are to blame for the failure. Republicans, for all their railing about the dangers of unlimited spending, remain happy to increase the debt our nation must face. The specter of inflation, a stalled economy, and disconnection to working people will grow.
More than just a list of asinine proposals wrapped in an emergency package, the bill shows that Congress is no longer interested in true legislating. After decades of shifting more power and discretion to the executive branch, members of Congress are more concerned with one last shot at aiding special interests before they head out the door than they are in actually ending the recession or the pandemic.
Americans are focused on the coronavirus, however, the dual crises of federal debt and this failure in Congress will be the ones that our children and historians pinpoint for decades to come. Nancy Pelosi did not ask us to eat cake. She and Mitch McConnell shoved it down our throats while giving the fruits of our labor and plenty of borrowed money to special interests. Do not be surprised if another infamous Rick Santelli moment sets off an even more unruly Tea Party in the near future.
Kristin Tate is a libertarian author and an analyst for Young Americans for Liberty. She is a Robert Novak journalism fellow at the Fund for American Studies. Her newest book is “The Liberal Invasion of Red State America.”