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AFP: Biden Administration’s “Go Big” Message Presents a False Choice

Feb 5, 2021 by AFP

Grassroots group encourages lawmakers to embrace Collins’ approach to COVID Relief

Arlington, Va. – Americans for Prosperity (AFP) issued a letter to Congress and President Biden encouraging careful consideration of the approach to coronavirus relief advanced by Sen. Collins and nine of her colleagues. The letter notes that while details of the plan are not perfect, they point toward a more effective and responsible approach to addressing the challenges posed by coronavirus and the economic pain that has accompanied it. The proposal put forth by Sen. Collins and her colleagues is a smart and sensible approach with key elements that already have support from both parties and should serve as the framework for negotiations.

View Letter on Collins Proposal Here

In the letter, AFP Chief Government Affairs Officer Brent Gardner writes:

As policymakers debate the scope of this package, some express the view that “the risk is not in going too big, it’s in going too small.” That is a false choice. Taking a timely, temporary, and targeted approach isn’t “small.” It’s smart. Washington repeatedly confuses big spending with smart or effective policy. The result has been bad policy, disappointing results, and more debt. Americans deserve better than the same ‘go big’ rationalizations that seem to come whenever there’s a crisis to leverage.

The letter outlines areas where Republicans and Democrats agree on the value of new legislation and where the provisions of the coalition proposal offer a better way to achieve the same goals:

  • Supplemental Unemployment Benefits: There is no doubt finding work is not as easy as it was before. We can help those who have lost their jobs without making it harder for them to reenter the workforce and our economy to recover. The coalition alternative would provide months of additional relief with greater flexibility, creating an opportunity for Congress to revisit these provisions if appropriate, and in a manner that does not disadvantage the workforce or undermine economic recovery.
  • Direct Payments: Direct payments should be focused on those most in need of assistance. The coalition proposal incorporates income thresholds that help the payments get to the people who need them, but not the people who don’t. Early research shows that initial funding was not targeted to those in need. We should learn from that mistake and do better. 
  • Education Assistance: State and local education departments have already received significant new federal funding both in the CARES Act and in the COVID relief package enacted in December. Congress should not authorize a new round of additional funds for a system that is currently failing many of our students. Instead, any new education funding should be designed to go directly to families.
  • Overcoming the Virus: The challenges of supply and distribution of vaccines have less to do with available funding than with decisions about priority setting and regulatory approvals. We urge Congress and the administration to have a laser focus on increased testing as well as vaccine production and distribution because ultimately, the only way to truly recover stronger is when people have the confidence to confidently re-enter the economy.

View the letter in its entirety here.

Background:

AFP recently issued a key vote alert urging opposition to the empty “shell” bill that lawmakers intend to use to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID spending proposal, which fails to accomplish the key goals of defeating the virus and recovering stronger, while also piling up debt and imposing counterproductive policies that would hurt the people who need the help. The group believes any COVID relief spending during these extraordinary times should be timely, temporary, and targeted to those hit hardest by the pandemic.