Remember when Congress battled over President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package just over a decade past? It’s no wonder that seems like a lifetime ago, considering Congress has already shelled out more than $4 trillion in COVID-19 relief. If that weren’t enough, another $1.9 trillion is making its way down the pipeline.
The crisis before us calls for aid — but not unprecedented spending that’s going to hurt us for decades. Unlike the relief bills before it, Republicans must rediscover their Tea Party spirit and do everything in their power to stop this new relief package.
While there may be a handful of worthwhile measures in the new relief package, such as vaccine distribution funds and beefing up unemployment payments, the Democrats jam-packed it with progressive wish-list items. The list is extensive, but some of the worst of it includes a teachers’ union pay-off, abortion funding, Obamacare expansions and a minimum wage increase that’ll crush small businesses already struggling to stay above water.
None of this is going to do anything to ease the struggles caused by the pandemic, and we’re going to feel the effects of these bad measures for years to come.
For example, $1 billion of the funding is earmarked to promote social equality in farming, more than $800 million for civic-volunteer agencies, $200 million for museums and libraries — and there’s more of the same. Not to mention that over one-third of the bill won’t even be spent until 2022, when there’s little probability we’ll need it at all.
Furthermore, the bill does little to nothing to address the actual root of our problems. What we do need, like relief for burdened businesses, is insufficient at less than 3% of all relief funding. In fact, measures like the minimum wage increase to $15 an hour will worsen the problem. In an economy that saw, just a few months ago, 800 small businesses shuttering per day, we can’t risk further damage in the name of progressive policy maneuvering.
If Democrats actually have any concern for delivering relief to Americans, why would they turn this bill into a partisan cudgel? The short answer is that they don’t care. For Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the Biden administration, this is just another opportunity to play partisan.
After all, this isn’t the first time they’ve done it. If you’ll remember, last summer, Mrs. Pelosi refused to pass unemployment relief and business protections while the rest of the relief package was negotiated. Clearly, there was no reason for this other than the desire to score political points with her own party.
Leaving behind his central campaign message of “unity” once again, President Biden and congressional Democrats have decided to force the hand of congressional Republicans and play games with the well-being of America and our economy. This time, however, Republicans in Congress can’t budge. Instead, they should take a page from the playbook they used during Mr. Obama’s spending spree.
There’s less support for this kind of fiscal conservatism now than there was then. Even the right, these days, is eager to employ non-stop spending. But for the sake of our country, we can’t give in to these urges. Our debt-to-GDP ratio reached an unprecedented 127% in July. We owe more than $84,000 per person in federal debt.
And if Republicans let Democrats get away with this new bill, our national debt will be approaching $30 trillion. Whether it be the ballooning debt, the small business owner who sees his labor expenses double, or the unrelated progressive services and bureaucratic arms that receive billions of unrelated dollars, this bill will wreak havoc on our economy and our American culture. After a pandemic that kneecapped us, that’s the last thing we need.
Some Republicans may think opposing the relief bill would cost us elections, but that’s unlikely. Look at the Tea Party era: In 2010, 70% of Americans described the federal budget deficit as a major problem that had to be addressed. When Republicans staunchly opposed the Obama stimulus package and Obamacare, they set in motion a red wave that would last for years and unseat more than 1,000 Democrats.
Republicans have an opportunity here to help people in ways that Joe Biden is unwilling to do. He is not the answer for our return to normalcy — we are. By opposing this “relief” funding, Republicans in Congress will protect small businesses from ruin, block a wish list of items that would fundamentally change the fabric of our society, and chart a course toward responsibility when it comes to government spending. If they don’t, we can rest assured that we didn’t leave our troubles behind in 2020.
• Nick Lindquist is a strategist at Beck & Stone and a conservative policy advocate. Follow him on Twitter @nick_lindquist.
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