Dems Can’t Get Enough from the Pork Barrel

Loyd Pettegrew, If you thought our Democrat legislators wouldn’t try to push through more pork in the Covid-19 congressional barrel, you have been living in a fool’s paradise.

The House has just completed its response to the bipartisan Senate bill, the Cares Act. With its $2.2T price tag, what this act is “helping” entails a lot more than a coronavirus response. Of course, much of the money is targeted at necessary things that will directly mitigate Covid-19’s impact on our nation. But as Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel points out, “A rough calculation suggests the single biggest recipient of taxpayer dollars in this legislation—far in excess of $600 billion—is government itself…this is a massive expansion of the welfare state, seemingly with no regard to the actual length of this crisis.”

It is hardly the “corporate bailout” that AOC, the stellar B.U. economics major, screeches about the Cares Act being: It is less a bailout and more a pet project stimulus for the Senate. Much of the Cares Act expands the welfare state and individual senator pet projects. Here is how it is being done: $25B for more food stamps and child nutrition; $12B housing (the coronavirus dismantles homes?); $3.5B to states for childcare (even though most parents are sequestered in their homes); $32B for education (even though most classes have shifted to online-learning); $900M for low-income heating assistance (it’s the end of March and while North Dakota may still be chilly, most states are warm and getting warmer); $50M for legal services for the poor (did Covid-19 kill a bunch of lawyers?); $37M for the U.S. Forest Service (nothing viral in our forests); $75M to the National Foundation on the Arts & Humanities (Kurt Schlichter has feared a virus lurks therein!); $25M for the Kennedy Center (it’s not even open); $78K to the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development (see line item comment on the National Foundation on the Arts); $500K to a Utah water project, etc., etc.

As former Democrat Senator Everett Dirksen once said: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

We should all rail against this misappropriation of taxpayer money.

It looks like Congress is trying to step into the same spot in the financial river it did during the Great Recession in 2007. Twenty-twenty hindsight reveals that our nation and financial markets would have fared better had we given aid directly to homeowners to use to pay their mortgages rather than to financial institutions and new government agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (current budget $585M). This would have created greater and more direct market liquidity and kept homeowners in their homes.

American economist Arnold Kling argues that what is needed most from our congressional spendthrifts is non-bank liquidity, not protection for our financial institutions. He believes that Covid-19 is producing a personal and business liquidity problem. The current favoring of Wall Street over the solvency of Main Street is an enormous market miscalculation that will lead to the need for more and more government interventions, thus affirming Congress’ need to feel important. Tom Giovanetti says what is required immediately is getting financial aid directly to the businesses and people who need it most while simultaneously minimizing the drain on our federal budget. His novel idea is government-backed credit lines to small businesses and individual households.

Sadly, the House’s response to the Senate Cares Act goes from bad to worse. Controlled by Pelosi and her Democrat minions, we see more, not less of the same. A quote attributed to Obama magnate Rahm Emmanuel but actually borrowed from Winston Churchill, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste”, will be the House Democrats’ mantra in the ensuing days and weeks. We can expect to find critical Covid-19 projects, from the House version to include life-saving additions like new Planned Parenthood funding, new greenish deal pet projects such as airline carbon emissions reporting, unionized medical care worker funds with additional collective bargaining items, violence against women program dollars, LBGTQ financial literacy programs, a national $15 minimum wage law, and the like.

We can be certain what was once just stupid, will now be totally ludicrous. As the Doobie Brothers album suggested: “What once were vices and now habits.”