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The $1.9 trillion bait-and-switch: supporters admit this bill funds a lot more than just coronavirus relief

Mar 19, 2021 by AFP

On March 11, President Joe Biden signed a massive $1.9 trillion spending bill supposedly intended to combat coronavirus. It is only the latest in a series of such bills, whose total spending had already reached an estimated $4 trillion before this most recent legislation.

What level of spending did Biden anticipate last year, before his inauguration? He was asked that question a few weeks after the election, on December 4, 2020:

Question: “Do you at all plan to pass trillions of dollars of aid, is that what you have in mind when you say we need to go big, or are we looking at billions of dollars?”

Biden: “We’re looking at hundreds of billions of dollars.”

In January however, after President Donald Trump signed into law a $900 billion coronavirus package and Democrats won a majority in the U.S. Senate, Biden endorsed a much more expensive package:

It will be in the trillions of dollars, the entire package. … We’re going to have to invest as I suggested throughout the campaign, in infrastructure and health care and a whole range of things …

Americans for Prosperity was among those who warned that this bill was not the targeted, timely, and temporary relief Americans deserve. Instead, it was a partisan laundry list of unrelated spending, drawn up by lawmakers looking for a rationale to find funding for pet projects. And once it was signed into law, supporters were more willing to tout the money spent on those same old partisan priorities:

“It’s a massive $1.9 trillion bill…” Senator Jeff Merkley

“a remarkable, historic, transformative piece of legislation.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

“…the most significant piece of legislation to come to the floor of the Senate in decades…” Senator Bernie Sanders

“Biden’s stimulus shows he’s governing like Bernie. … The stimulus is chock-full of social-democratic ideas” Business Insider: Australia

“The Stimulus Bill Is the Most Economically Liberal Legislation in Decades” Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker

[Sets the stage for] “…a major turning point in the history of the American welfare state…” Jordan Weissmann, Slate

Leaders in Washington promised a bill focused on beating coronavirus, and the result was a nearly $2 trillion spending package that supporters now admit funds much more than coronavirus response. We can’t let lawmakers pull off another bait and switch when they debate a costly new “infrastructure” bill that is also expected to fund, at the very least, key portions of a Green New Deal.

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