Over the weekend, the U.S. House posted a first draft version of the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” – a $1.9 trillion emergency aid package to help America recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Previous legislation has already provided at least $4 trillion in funds for testing, paid family leave, small business relief, direct payments to individuals and families, the Kennedy Center, and a plethora of non-related Covid-19 “relief.”
Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team essentially wrote the bill, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found what House Democrats consider coronavirus-recovery “essential” spending:
- $1.5 million earmarked for the Seaway International Bridge, which connects New York to Canada. Senate Leader Chuck Schumer hails from New York.
- $50 million for “family planning” – going to non-profits, i.e. Planned Parenthood, or public entities, including for “services for adolescents[.]”
- $852 million for AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps Vista, and the National Senior Service Corps – the Corporation for National and Community Service – civic volunteer agencies. This includes $9 million for the AmeriCorp inspector general to conduct oversight and audits of the largess. AmeriCorps received a $1.1 billion FY2020 appropriation.
People of goodwill can debate each of these goals, but is it truly emergency spending or funding related to Covid-19?
For example, what is the public purpose for a hike in the minimum wage to $15 per hour – which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says will cost the economy 1.4 million jobs?
Certainly, the coronavirus stimulus bill does provide $473 billion in payments to individuals, $75 billion in cash for vaccines, $26 billion to restaurants, $15 billion to help fund airline payrolls, and another $7.2 billion in Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses.
However, The Wall Street Journal editorial board estimated that only $825 billion was directly related to Covid-19 relief and $1 trillion was “expansions of progressive programs, pork, and unrelated policy changes.”