Almost a dozen Republican U.S. Senators are putting forth a framework for their own coronavirus relief bill in hopes of promoting more unity in Washington, DC.
Maine Senator Susan Collins published the outline in a letter to President Joe Biden on Sunday requesting a seat at the table when it comes to negotiations. Collins and the nine other Republicans promise they want to see COVID relief passed. Their goals include $160B for hospitals, doctors, and nurses along with vaguely stated goals of increasing vaccine distribution, contact tracing, and handing out more personal protective equipment. There’s also an avowed promise of making sure small businesses get relief (even though opening the economy brings about the most) and school assistance. All things within Biden’s plan.
One key factor the ten point out is a reminder there’s still money from previous bills yet to be spent.
Just last month, Congress provided $900 billion in additional resources, and communities are only now receiving much of that assistance. Some of the spending appropriated through the CARES Act, passed last March, also has yet to be exhausted. The proposal we have outlined is mindful of these past efforts, while also acknowledging the priorities that need additional support right now.
Imagine my shock (note sarcasm) to learn appropriated money remains sitting there like ignored leftovers from Christmas dinner! One must wonder whether it’s state procurement procedures causing the hold-up or a bunch of bureaucrats sitting around staring at the cash going, “Welp, you send it out. No, you send it out!” Government moves extremely slow so both factors are likely.
This is another reminder of the tenet, “You can’t just throw money at a problem to solve it.” The U.S. spent billions on so-called coronavirus relief with nary a peep of real success. Americans received anywhere between $600 to $1200 in checks from the government, but those equal what, a paycheck and a half? How many Americans are still struggling due to lack of work or no work? How many small businesses have gone under since then? How many larger businesses declared bankruptcy due to pandemic exacerbation? How many students are struggling because they’re not in the classroom?
It’s completely understandable why local and state governments overreacted to coronavirus by shutting things down. Fear is a powerful weapon, and no one wants to see anyone die. However, at what point do we realize the importance of personal responsibility? Plenty of businesses made changes to operating models when the pandemic first came to American shores. Sports leagues shut down, then re-started once coronavirus protocols were in place. Alcohol to go is finally a thing. People started wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Responsible business owners understand the need for precautions if they want to stay in business. One can’t stay in operation if all your customers and workers are dead or ill. Jacob Sullum at Reason noted the harsh economic restrictions may not even be working.
I wrote last March about the importance of not giving the government more power during this pandemic. Yet, that’s all we’ve done. Vaccine efforts remain slow because federal, state, and local governments handle vaccine distribution. Why not let hospitals or pharmacies or even consumers buy directly from drug companies, as long as they get the shots at a doctor’s office? It’s ludicrous to think this can’t happen with better success than what’s currently going on.
It’s great this “Gang of Ten,” if you want to call it that, promote a small bit of fiscal sanity regarding the exorbitant amount of cash already spent. It’s imaginary relief, however, and not enough to solve anything. No amount will. Something needs to change.