Commentary

Democrats' 'American Rescue' Bailout Would Enslave Us to Debt and Lockdowns

By Jenny Beth Martin | February 26, 2021 | 3:35pm EST
Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event. (Photo credit: KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)
Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event. (Photo credit: KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

Democrats want to prolong the lockdowns – to keep businesses shuttered, to keep people looking for work from finding gainful employment – and they want to use another $2 trillion of taxpayer money to do it. But because the taxpayers don’t actually have the money, Democrats will have to borrow (again!) from our children.

Except that when “borrowing,” it’s customary to ask the lender for the loan, rather than simply take the money and leave behind an I.O.U. And there is no request being made to future generations. There is simply the appropriation being made and a bill being sent to future generations in the form of an addition to the national debt, so we shouldn’t call it “borrowing;” we should call it what we do when one person takes another’s money without permission – we call that “stealing.”

That’s a long way of saying Democrats want to steal money from our children to prolong the lockdowns.

Yet, somehow, Democrats clearly believe that passing this bill with nothing but Democrat votes will help them politically. They think their “American Rescue Plan” is popular.

That’s remarkable. Because I’m pretty sure that if our fellow citizens actually knew what was in this plan, they’d reject it out of hand.

First off, the bill is misnamed. Its passage will “rescue” nothing. It will, instead, prolong the shutdown of businesses that many state and local governments ordered close to a year ago. That’s not what our fellow citizens think of as a “rescue.”

In fact, when I first learned the name of this bill, I laughed. I thought of a possible conversation with a friend:

“Hey, Jim, if I told you everything was going to stay locked down for another six months – no work, no movie theaters, no dinners out with friends, no ball games, nothing like the old days before the coronavirus, BUT I’ll get you a check from the government for $1,400, as long as you don’t make more than $75,000 per year – would you call that a ‘rescue?’ Yeah. Me, neither.”

Second, it’s rather difficult to make the argument that this legislation is necessary. The unemployment rate is a relatively meager 6.3 percent. That’s lower than it was for the first five straight years of the Obama Administration; after his first (and only) less-than-one-trillion-dollar “stimulus” package in early 2009, he didn’t try again. And while it’s true that the lower unemployment rate is caused at least in part by the decisions by many unemployed workers to leave the job market, it’s also true that we really have two different economies today – the economies in the states that locked down (lower growth, higher unemployment) and the economies in the states that did not (higher growth, lower unemployment).

Meanwhile, growth in the gross domestic product was 33.4 percent in the third quarter of 2020, and 4 percent in the fourth quarter. Going forward, Goldman Sachs projects that the U.S. GDP for 2021 will grow at a rate of 6.8 percent.

Third, we passed a coronavirus relief bill in December – that is, just two months ago. That bill ran to $900 billion and then some, and that money hasn’t even been spent yet. Come to think of it, neither has all the money from the earlier coronavirus relief bills. By some estimates, there’s about a trillion dollars sloshing around the system, waiting to be spent. And, by the way, the CBO projects that of the $1.9 trillion in spending authorized by this bill, about $700 billion won’t be spent until at least 2022. So much for “emergency” relief.

Fourth, this bill contains a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with the coronavirus, or relief from it – a massive increase in the minimum wage, for instance. That’s been on the progressive Democrats’ wish list for years, since long before anyone had ever heard of the coronavirus. It’s a terrible idea under any circumstance – the Congressional Budget Office says it will cost 1.4 million jobs – but it’s a particularly bad idea to roll it into a bill that its supporters claim is designed to help those struggling to find work.

Beyond the minimum wage increase, there’s $135 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, another $135 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. And there’s about $350 billion to bail out big-spending state and local governments that ran up huge debts over the last two decades. What has that funding got to do with the coronavirus?

Here’s the worst part of all: This bill isn’t just unnecessary and wasteful; it’s counterproductive. By throwing such huge amounts of money at the problem – and giving those who receive its benefits a short-term “high” that ameliorates the damage caused them by the lockdowns – it actually harms our efforts to end the lockdowns. It reduces the pressure on state and local governments to work to find ways to reopen businesses and schools, and thereby prolongs the lockdowns.

The American people are sick and tired of the lockdowns. They don’t want a check from the government; they want to go back to work and they want to send their children back to school. They want to go out to dinner and a movie, or maybe catch a ballgame. They want the lockdowns ended. Congressional Republicans seem to have figured this out. Why haven’t the Democrats?

Jenny Beth Martin is Honorary Chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.

MRC Store