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Monday, March 21, 2022
One year later: Why Biden's 'American Rescue' failed
Friday marked the anniversary of President Joe Biden signing his $2 trillion American Rescue Plan into law. Although Biden and Democrats argued every which way about the urgent need to pass the monstrous bill, Congress had by that time already enacted $4 trillion in combined spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Biden argued that the country was on his side and that 7 in 10 voters supported the expenditure.
Amid the hysteria and cries for urgent action, my Republican colleagues and I could clearly see that Democrats were blinded by their ambition to spend more money as fast as possible, regardless of the need or the consequences.
One year later, everyone else sees it, too. According to recent polling, only 21% of voters believe the law has helped them, whereas 29% say it has left them worse off. Overall, less than 40% now support Biden’s handling of the pandemic.
It is not hard to see why — only 9% of the so-called Rescue Plan's spending went to combating the virus in the first place, even though it was Biden's signature attempt to fulfill a campaign promise to “shut down the virus.” The bill did little of substance to end the pandemic but quite a lot to exploit a crisis in order to grow government.
During the debate on the House floor, the Democratic chairman of the House Budget Committee said, “There’s no money wasted in this legislation.” He could not have been more wrong. In fact, billions of dollars have been wasted or mismanaged by state and local governments. As millions of people were left standing on the sidelines because of COVID-19 lockdown policies, state and local politicians saw an opportunity to use billions of federal tax dollars to pay for pet projects they had been promising voters for years, completely unrelated to COVID.
For example, President Biden’s home state of Delaware is spending $40 million of "emergency COVID-19 funding" to build libraries, New Jersey is spending $15 million on a sports complex, and Syracuse, New York, is pushing $2 million to plant trees. The city of Philadelphia has proposed spending $18 million to literally hand out free money via a universal basic income pilot program.
It gets worse. Stimulus checks as large as $1,400 were sent to Japanese citizens living in Japan. Checks went to convicted prisoners, including the Boston Marathon bomber. Michigan is spending $400 million to upgrade state parks and trails, a city in Connecticut is spending almost $1 million to build 40 luxury apartments, and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is spending nearly $17 million to build a golf course with a two-story clubhouse and driving range.
Most bizarrely, nearly $2 billion was sent to county governments that do not even exist.
That is just a sample of what we have discovered at the House Budget Committee, and surely, the list goes on.
As the dam opened and trillions in tax dollars began flooding our economy, the Biden administration was at the same time facing another self-created crisis — a national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border, borne out of Biden's lackadaisical approach to enforcing our immigration laws. Naturally, Biden turned once again to the taxpayers for a bailout, diverting $2 billion from his Rescue Plan's funds for COVID testing and vaccines to provide housing to the rush of illegal immigrants streaming across the border instead. Again, we had been told that this money was desperately needed to combat COVID-19, and yet the administration did not think twice about shifting money around to cover up other problems it had created.
During his recent State of the Union address, President Biden claimed that the American Rescue Plan “created jobs. Lots of jobs.” Simply put, that is malarkey. Over 20% of the bill’s spending went to policies that destroy jobs, encouraging people to depend on government checks instead of getting back into the workforce. A study from the American Enterprise Institute found that the American Rescue Plan failed to create any of the 4 million new jobs Democrats promised. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Approximately 1.8 million people reportedly turned down a job because of the extended unemployment bonuses that were included. The Democrats’ bill even eliminated work requirements for federal food assistance programs and the child tax credit. No wonder America faced a massive worker shortage.
The warning signs were there all along. Even before the American Rescue Plan was passed, Democrats such as former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers warned that it would cause “inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation.” His warnings proved correct. The San Francisco Bank of the Federal Reserve found that the American Rescue Plan helped ignite the highest spike in consumer prices in 40 years — a crisis that is making it harder for families to put food on their tables, clothes on their backs, and gas in their cars.
More recently, Biden requested another $15 billion for COVID-19, even though $326 billion remains unobligated from the original American Rescue Plan. Instead of asking taxpayers for another loan, perhaps he could divert some of the money from his spending bill, as he has done in the past.
One year in, it is already clear that the explosion of high prices, worker shortages, and a lagging economy limping its way to recovery along a trail of wasteful spending will be the legacy of Biden’s so-called American Rescue Plan.