The Biden White House is pointing to polls showing that its $1.9 trillion spending bill is popular, and the press corps is cheering. Yet we wonder how much public support there’d be if Americans understood that most of the blowout is a list of longtime Democratic spending priorities flying under the false flag of Covid-19 relief.
Let’s dig into the various House committee bills to separate the Covid from the chaff. The Covid cash includes some $75 billion for vaccinations, treatments, testing and medical supplies. There’s also $19 billion for “public health,” primarily for state health departments and community health centers. One might even count the $6 billion to the Indian Health Service, or $4 billion for mental health.
The package also hands more to businesses and individuals most hit by lockdowns. That includes $7.2 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program, $15 billion for economic injury disaster loans, $26 billion for restaurants, bars and live venues, and $15 billion in payroll support for airlines. The recipients of this taxpayer money will at least be required to prove economic harm, and in some cases repay loans.
Not so the recipients of the $413 billion in checks Democrats intend to send to households far and wide, at $1,400 per man, woman and dependent, that begins phasing out at $75,000 of individual income. The Congressional Budget Office says the bill’s unemployment provisions will increase deficits by $246 billion, and that its $400 a week in federal “enhanced” unemployment benefits through August “could increase the unemployment rate as well as decrease labor force participation.” So much for economic stimulus.
All told, this generous definition of Covid-related provisions tallies some $825 billion. The rest of the bill—more than $1 trillion—is a combination of bailouts for Democratic constituencies, expansions of progressive programs, pork, and unrelated policy changes.