Only a small percent of President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package would actually go to pandemic-related efforts.
Reason’s Peter Suderman reported this week that just 1% of the package would be spent on vaccines, with only 5% going toward “pandemic-related public health needs.” A full 15%, about $300 billion, is earmarked for liberal policy priorities that have nothing to do with the pandemic, such as expanding Obamacare subsidies and increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour (four years from now).
As Suderman noted, Biden has been pitching his nearly $2 trillion plan as imminently necessary. “We don’t have a second to waste when it comes to delivering the American people the relief they desperately need. I’m calling on Congress to act quickly and pass the American Rescue Plan,” Biden tweeted on February 8.
The actual relief package, however, wouldn’t all be spent immediately, even for things deemed necessary to reopen schools.
Biden’s “plan is padded with non-urgent, pre-existing Democratic policy priorities that have, at most, only tangential relationship to the crisis at hand,” Suderman reported.
For example, Biden’s plan calls for another $170 billion for education, including nearly $128 billion going to K-12 schools “for preparation for, prevention of, and response to the coronavirus pandemic or for other uses allowed by other federal education programs.” Despite Biden’s claims that the money is needed urgently, “The vast majority of the relief plan’s money for schools wouldn’t be spent in the current fiscal year, or even next year,” Suderman reported.
“Previous coronavirus relief and congressional spending bills have already included more than $100 billion in funding for schools. But according to the Congressional Budget Office, ‘most of those funds remain to be spent,’” Suderman added.
While Biden is calling for $170 billion, just $6 billion would be spent this fiscal year, with another $32 billion spent next year.
The relief package also calls for $350 billion to bail out state budgets. The figure was based on a previous projection that state budgets would be down about 8% this year, but The Wall Street Journal reported the real drop is just 1.6%. Further, 18 states ended 2020 with projected revenue increases. California, for example, would receive billions from Biden’s relief plan even though it has a projected revenue surplus of $15 billion.
“There’s more like this peppered throughout Biden’s pandemic relief plan. Biden and his communications team raise the issue of food insecurity—then insist that checks should go to a two-earner family with stable jobs making $120,000 a year in a city with a roughly $40,000 annual median income for couples,” Suderman wrote, adding that couples with these salaries have generally avoided losing any money during the pandemic.
As The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti reported last week, the pandemic-related measures of the bill would provide $1,400 stimulus checks to individuals that phase out starting at certain incomes, an extension to federal supplemental unemployment benefits, and increases the budget for the WIC food stamps program, as well as providing funds for mortgage payment and rental assistance.