President-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan. This proposal contains numerous wasteful spending provisions that would do little to fight the pandemic and could prolong the economic downturn. This proposal should be rejected by Congress.
Congress has already provided trillions of dollars to individuals, small businesses, hospitals, and state and local governments, including the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the recently passed $900 billion relief bill attached to the December government funding bill.
Lawmakers should reject this and other efforts to pass trillions of dollars in new spending. The COVID-19 pandemic should not be an excuse for the left to enact vast new spending programs that will permanently expand the size and scope of government.
Biden’s plan calls for a $350 billion bailout for state and local governments, funding which is entirely unnecessary. Many states have seen little or no negative budgetary impact because of the pandemic, with California reporting a $15 billion budget surplus.
In addition, as recently reported by the New York Times, Wisconsin expects to have money to contribute to its rainy-day fund, Maryland has increased its revenue projections, and Minnesota expects a surplus. In all, state collections declined just 4.4 percent through September compared to the first nine months of 2019, according to the Tax Foundation.
Congress has also already provided aid to states, including approximately $360 billion that directly went to state and local governments to help them response to COVID-19.
In fact, even before the last $900 billion package, lawmakers had provided states and localities with 17 times their 2020 revenue loss and double their expected 2020 and 2021 loss, according to the Heritage Foundation.
Biden’s plan also calls for $400 additional unemployment benefits through September and proposes a nationwide $15 minimum wage. Biden’s $400-per week unemployment would prolong the economic downturn by creating a disincentive for workers to return to work and will unnecessarily drive up unemployment rates. It is important to note that these payments are on top of regular unemployment compensation that displaced workers receive from states.
This $400-per-week expansion would extend the $300-per week benefit that was passed for three months at the end of last year, as well as Nancy Pelosi’s $600-per-week unemployment expansion passed in the CARES Act.
The Pelosi proposal created a situation in which 68 percent of Americans got paid more on unemployment than in the workplace. The economic damage caused by this policy is long-lasting – a recent study conducted by the Heritage Foundation found the $600 UI policy would reduce GDP by between $955 billion and $1.49 trillion.
In addition to this $400 UI, Biden calls for a $15 minimum wage. If implemented, this proposal would cost jobs across the country. The Congressional Budget Office has found a $15 minimum wage would cost 1.3 million jobs, while other studies have found over 2 million jobs would be lost. This is not hypothetical – when Seattle implemented a $15 minimum wage, thousands of jobs were lost, while other workers saw a reduction in hours worked.