As Congress prepares to pass a fifth coronavirus stimulus bill in as many months, we are at risk of turning what was supposed to be temporary government relief into a top-down reinvention of the U.S. economy. Under the guise of “stimulus,” Democrats are pushing massive increases in spending and regulation that advance progressive ideology but would throw America’s economic recovery in reverse.
At the outset of the pandemic, most people agreed that individuals and businesses needed help as states instituted broad economic shutdowns. Trillions of dollars in spending later, we are seeing clear signs of economic recovery.
Jobs are coming back at a record pace and consumers are spending again at a faster rate than expected. We have a long way to go, no doubt, but we’ve rebounded more quickly than most economists thought possible.
But even as the economy speeds up, the proposals for trillions of dollars more in government stimulus spending aren’t slowing down. It’s that clear progressive politicians have no intention to let go of the power they’ve acquired during the pandemic.
Despite the signs of recovery, House Democrats have passed legislation for $3 trillion more in new stimulus spending — roughly doubling what’s already been spent — to extend the $600 enhancement to unemployment, provide a new round of more generous stimulus checks, forgive student loan debt and send more money to state and local governments.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden has been laying out his vision for America if he wins the presidency, and it’s a progressive’s dream.
He’s proposed a climate change plan to spend $2.2 trillion over four years to, among other things, make houses, offices, appliances, transportation and energy production more green. Where are those trillions going to come from? His campaign says tax increases and “some amount of stimulus spending.” Some amount, indeed.
It’s not clear what pandemic recovery has to do with higher-efficiency wash machines, electric cars and solar panels, but what is clear is that progressives think they have found a back door to usher in their massive spending plans. America balked at the tens of trillions of dollars progressives wanted to spend on a Green New Deal, so now they’re doing it on the installment plan and calling it stimulus.
Not sure about universal basic income? Then how about repeated “stimulus” checks? Not sold on wiping out college loans? Just think of it as student pandemic relief. Skeptical about green energy spending? What if we called it a plan to create good union jobs?
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The packaging has changed, but the radical policies are the same.
Whether it’s the Green New Deal or Joe Biden’s modified version of it, we are talking about a program of new subsidies, rules and restrictions driven by Washington bureaucrats that would drastically affect jobs and investment in key industries like transportation, manufacturing, construction and consumer goods — anything that depends on access to low-cost, reliable energy.
Regulation would increase, as would taxes, and in both cases raise the cost of these policies in terms of higher prices and slower economic growth.
To be sure, Congress has a continued role to play in aiding the path toward economic recovery. Businesses need protections from frivolous lawsuits. Workers would benefit from policies that encourage hiring and that allow them to keep more money in their pockets.
Schools need resources to cover the costs of safely helping students get back in the classroom. And all of us would benefit from efforts to speed the development of a vaccine.
But the priority in this moment should be growing job opportunities and incomes, not the size and scope of government. The pandemic presented a need for temporary government help, not an invitation to re-brand progressive economics as crisis relief.
Too many of the policies being touted as stimulus would go much further, fundamentally and permanently pushing our economy toward more state control.
Call it what you want, Americans should stand against it.