A new COVID-19 Blueprint by the National Center for Public Policy Research stands in stark contrast to the most recent plan put forward by Washington liberals. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just released an 1,800-page wishlist of left-wing spending priorities that will cost future generations of American taxpayers at least $3 trillion.
Thomas Sowell once called schemes like Pelosi’s examples of liberalism’s “unconstrained vision”—untethered from reality. Whatever the case, the Left’s answers to the thorny questions presented by the COVID-19 crisis remain true to form: more government control, more government spending, and more national debt. Across the board, these are the wrong answers.
In contrast, the National Center has proposed 54 practical and specific action items for federal, state, and local officials.
Relying on the principles that have made America exceptional, the blueprint insists that constitutional rights and liberty be protected to the fullest extent possible, even during a crisis; encourages states to chart their own course while bearing primary responsibility for their decisions; calls for us to reassess America’s relationship with China as well as pause or repeal rules and regulations that kill or stifle employment; and encourages us to enact a smarter pandemic response guided by data, not fear.
Pelosi’s HEROES Act is an unserious proposal that is “dead on arrival” in Mitch McConnell’s more sensible Senate. This irresponsible partisan proposal includes a massive trillion-dollar bailout for state and local governments that would say to governors and mayors that have mismanaged their finances for decades: “Go ahead, overspend and under-prepare. Washington will save you.”
Pelosi’s bill would send nearly $35 billion to New York, over $17 billion to New York City, and another $15 billion to local New York governments. Pelosi would then allow New York to cut its own Medicaid spending while reaping heaps of new federal support. And she would repeal the current cap on state and local tax deductions designed to place the burden of high-tax states (like New York) where it belongs—with those living in the states that voted for the tax hikes.
Rather than focusing on health issues and safely reopening the economy, the HEROES Act would extend incentives for able-bodied workers to stay at home and collect oversized unemployment benefits. It then ventures into unrelated spending territories long coveted by the tax-and-spend Left. It would spend $3.6 billion on elections and overhaul election law, bailout underperforming pension plans and the U.S. Postal Service, offer $10,000 in across-the-board student loan forgiveness for public and private loans for 16 million Americans, and give $10 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
No word yet on whether the bill subsidizes Pelosi’s favorite gourmet ice cream, but as Representative Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) recently tweeted, the Democrats’ new stimulus package is full of “more irresponsible socialist stocking stuffers.”
If policymakers in Washington are serious about turning America away from the economic and health strangulation it is experiencing, the Blueprint is an excellent guidepost.
The National Center’s Blueprint (to which this author is a contributor) will get the country back on its feet, save lives and prevent health pandemics of this sort from recurring. Instead of more government, more spending, and more debt—the liberal recipe for virtually every challenge—the National Center calls for carefully considered government action at all levels, builds on the private sector in healthcare and beyond, relies on personal responsibility and is based in federalism.
As the government-imposed lockdowns intensified, governors, mayors, and unelected health officials have besieged constitutional liberties and protections—a preventable side-effect of COVID-19.
One key proposal in the National Center Blueprint recommends protecting fundamental rights with a team at the U.S. Department of Justice dedicated to investigating COVID-19-related regulations that may violate constitutional rights. To assist that effort, why not require state and local governments to narrowly tailor their COVID-19 restrictions as a condition of direct federal aid?
To reopen the U.S. economy, Congress should end, not extend, the Paycheck Protection Program. As the National Center argues, the program designed to help small companies survive temporary economic turmoil has already cost nearly $650 billion, and the program itself creates disincentives to reopen businesses so long as it continues to subsidize an economic shutdown.
Instead of bailing-out fiscally promiscuous states with federal largesse, the National Center proposes limiting new government-to-government assistance to collateralized loans. Mayor Bill de Blasio may keep New York City closed until September, but New Yorkers, not residents of Wyoming or South Dakota, should pay the costs of such a shutdown.
The National Center also proposes several significant changes to America’s relationship with China, including: increasing FDA inspections in China to monitor products streaming through supply chains; extending the travel ban between the United States and China (except for repatriating citizens) until China opens the Wuhan Virology Institute labs to U.S. inspectors and shares vital health information; and scrutinizing Chinese investments in the United States more closely.
Perhaps most importantly, the National Center calls for developing alternative supplies of medical, pharmaceutical and national defense materials to reduce America’s reliance on China, and recommends passing the Medical Supply Chain Security Act. All good calls.
America in crisis does not need more “unconstrained visionaries” and their big government wish lists of reckless, haphazard spending. Now is the time for clear-eyed proposals grounded in constitutional principles and guided by fiscal restraint and care for America’s posterity.