Steve Shapiro/2011 Caribbean HIV Conference

Democrats are pushing for yet another round of COVID-19 supplemental funding even though we have hundreds of billions of dollars in unspent COVID funding and have spent as much as $6 trillion already.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci recently asked Democrats to pass another $15 billion in funds to fight the virus domestically and abroad, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has suggested passing a bill with $22.5 billion in new funding.

This should be concerning to taxpayers because Democrats have repeatedly exploited the pandemic to further their left-wing agenda of bigger government and more spending.  

In March of 2020, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told Democrat lawmakers that the pandemic was an “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

Since then, the Left has used the pandemic to forgive billions of dollars in student loans, transform the child tax credit into a monthly welfare payment, expand unemployment benefits to pay people more to stay at home than to work, and drastically expand paid sick and family leave.  

Congress has spent so much money that the federal government can’t spend it fast enough. As of January of this year, $811 billion of COVID spending has still not been spent or even allocated. 

In 2020, the U.S. government spent over $6 trillion. In 2021, the U.S. spent $6.82 trillion, or 30 percent of the economy. The CBO projects that the U.S.’s interest costs will triple within the next decade: $331 billion this year to $910 billion in 2031, accounting for 12 percent of the entire federal budget. In 2021, the United States’ interest payments costed roughly $2,600 per household.   

As of January of this year, $811 billion of COVID spending has still not been spent or even allocated. While Democrats continue to use the pandemic as an excuse to spend more money, we are starting to learn that prior spending was plagued with fraud and misuse. As the Heritage Foundation points out, the federal government’s improper payments rate surged from 2.9 percent in 2019 to 7.1 percent in 2021. In fact, a Heritage analysis estimated that at least 40% of pandemic unemployment benefits, $357 billion, went to people who weren’t actually unemployed. 

As one piece in Bloomberg highlights, numerous other programs were plagued with waste:

“As little as 23% of the $800 billion doled out by the Paycheck Protection Program actually found its way into workers’ pockets. A Department of Labor study estimated that more than $87 billion in emergency unemployment benefits were improperly paid. The Small Business Administration has (among other blunders) disbursed more than $6.2 billion to loan applicants it now suspects of identity theft. Somehow, the Internal Revenue Service managed to issue 2.2 million stimulus checks — worth about $3.5 billion — to dead people.”  

Expansions in COVID programs and spending will ensure even more taxpayer money be wasted.

While Democrats continue to use the pandemic as an excuse to spend more money, taxpayers are experiencing severe inflation due to out-of-control spending.  In January, inflation surged to 7.9 percent, the highest it has been in 40 years. The average U.S. household spent $3,500 more in 2021 due to inflation, according to a Penn Wharton University of Pennsylvania Budget Model analysis.  

In part, this inflation is being caused by government policies that have injected the economy with so much money that demand is growing too fast for production to keep up.   

Fortunately, some lawmakers recognize that we need spending restraint. Earlier this month, Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) led a letter to Senate leadership opposing any supplemental COVID-19 relief funding.

The letter outlines how there is still hundreds of billions of dollars of pandemic relief money left unspent and that this level of spending contributes to crushing inflation:

“Dumping trillions of dollars into an American economy that was already on the rise has had crippling effects on this nation. Compared to January of 2021, food and grocery costs are up 7 percent, home heating costs are up over 46 percent, and used car prices are up over 40 percent. The federal government cannot continue to spend without regard to the impact on prices, the economy, and our constituents at home. It is clear that throwing even more money at COVID is unsustainable and irresponsible.”  

There is no reason to spend more money when $811 billion in funding is still unobligated. Additionally, more spending would worsen already-painful inflation, showing little regard for the struggles of the American public.