President-elect Joe Biden just unveiled his proposal for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. Democrats insist it is targeted to respond to the crisis and only full of “commonsense” measures and much-needed emergency spending.
Yet, even a cursory glance at the specifics of the package reveals that it’s a Trojan horse for a sweeping liberal agenda that Biden could never otherwise get passed.
Yes, the proposal does include billions for vaccine distribution, testing, school reopenings, and the like. But it also includes blatant partisan priorities, such as a federal $15 minimum wage.
Biden knows that this far-left, job-killing policy would never make it out of Congress in a straight up-down vote. The Democrat’s hope here is obviously that he can sneak a doubling of the federal minimum wage into an “emergency” package that lawmakers feel obligated to support. We should all hope this duplicity is unsuccessful.
A nationwide $15 minimum wage was too radical a proposal for even 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, hardly a fiscal conservative. And right now, small businesses are already struggling under the crushing weight of the pandemic. A huge spike to their wage bills would no doubt push many past the brink.
For workers, too, basic economics teaches us that such a spike in the minimum wage would hurt more than it would help. Here’s a shocker: Artificially mandating higher prices for a service than what it’s worth on the market leads to businesses purchasing less of that service. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that a federal $15 minimum wage would kill approximately 1.3 million to 3.7 million jobs.
Similarly, the president-elect’s package earmarks $350 billion for state and local government bailouts in a nakedly partisan pander to badly managed blue states. Let’s be clear: Despite Biden’s rhetoric, municipal governments are not actually in a budget crisis.
“State and local tax revenues are rising nationwide, not falling,” Cato Institute economist Chris Edwards explained in December. “Sales tax revenues dipped in the second quarter of 2020 but bounced back in the third quarter. Individual income and property taxes did not fall — they rose in both the second and third quarters.”
Edwards concluded: “Some places such as New York City are in trouble from self‐inflicted wounds, but there is no nationwide government budget crisis.”
In reality, this money is not some emergency relief to make sure first responders’ checks don’t start bouncing. It’s a massive redistribution scheme to put federal taxpayers on the hook for years of mismanagement in blue states, culminating in the horrible decision to maintain crushing lockdowns despite their ineffectiveness at containing COVID-19.
What these states really need is not a federal bailout but relief from their left-wing politicians.
Similarly, Biden’s proposal contains massive expansions of the welfare state, such as increasing unemployment benefits and extending that too-generous system through September. This is no longer some short-term emergency measure (the unemployment system was originally “temporarily” expanded in March 2020) but rather a large step toward the Nordic-style welfare state that Democrats increasingly want to bring to our shores.
Republicans shouldn’t feel guilty about vocally opposing Biden’s COVID-19 relief efforts. Conservative opposition isn’t an obstruction of a commonsense emergency response but a rejection of an imposition of a liberal economic agenda on the United States through a back door.