As Democrats offer massive new benefits, a refresher on pandemic check writing

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[This piece has been published in Restoring America to highlight how out-of-control government spending has contributed to, and in some cases even created, the economic hardships Americans are facing today.]

Americans may struggle to keep up with the reckless pace of spending coming out of Washington today. Last week, it was college debt cancellation worth up to $20,000 per person (over 40 million people). Unbiased experts estimate it will cost $500 billion or more — or at least four times the price of last year’s expanded child tax credit. The week before, it was over $350 billion in Green New Deal spending, including $7,500 in subsidies for Americans buying electric vehicles.

Whenever supposedly transformational new benefits like these are rolled out, proponents simply ignore existing programs or dismiss them as woefully inadequate. In reality, before the pandemic, there were more than 80 federal programs that spent nearly $1 trillion a year on education, energy, food, housing, health, income, and other support for low-income individuals and families. But post-pandemic proponents of government check writing are taking it to another level — by also ignoring the unprecedented federal checks just paid to tens of millions amid the pandemic, including too many poised to receive the latest new benefits as well. and receive grants.

The first and most widespread pandemic payments were stimulus checks paid to an estimated 85% of all U.S. households. Adults first received $1,200 and children $500 under the March 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A second round of scrutiny followed a December 2020 law, which provided $600 per adult and child. The Biden administration then sent a third round of scrutiny through the March 2021 U.S. bailout, which raised another $1,400 per adult and child. Like the previous rounds, those checks were paid to individuals who made up to $75,000 and to married couples who made up to $150,000 per year. All told, an average four-person household collected $11,400, costing taxpayers a staggering $869 billion — more than the annual U.S. defense budget.

Other federal controls offered more benefits to those laid off or unable to work due to the pandemic. As of March 2020, federal bonuses of $600 per week (and later $300 per week) increased the value of all other state and federal unemployment benefits. These bonuses, which were paid out to a peak of 33 million in June 2020, were so generous that by mid-2020 the resulting benefits outweighed the past paychecks of two-thirds of recipients.

A new temporary program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) offered weekly checks to millions never before eligible, including independent contractors, the self-employed and those underemployed to qualify for regular unemployment checks. PUA contained notoriously loose eligibility criteria that provoked record fraud. It paid checks to a peak of 15 million in August 2020, and many of its recipients were younger than those on regular unemployment benefits — including many who also qualify for college debt forgiveness.

Millions also benefited from unemployment extensions. Those who exhausted up to six months of state unemployment checks were able to accumulate more than a year’s worth of federal checks under one pandemic program, which supported more than 6 million in early 2021. A second federal program offered another 20 weeks of checks to millions more. All things considered, an unemployed person receiving just an average state benefit of $325 a week could rack up an astonishing $46,000 in state and federal unemployment checks. That includes $38,000 in temporarily expanded and extended federal benefits that can last up to 18 months. Federal taxpayers will collect the record $700 billion.

The latest wave of federal checks was the increased child tax credits of up to $3,600 paid to 65 million children in 2021. In a controversial break with that program’s past, even non-working parents were eligible for monthly checks, making that temporary extension akin to working – free benefits for millions.

This list doesn’t include tens of billions of dollars in comprehensive federal food stamps, housing benefits, childcare benefits, and much more. It also doesn’t count toward universal basic income checks, supplemental stimulus checks, and other payments made by state and local governments with $500 billion in federal pandemic aid. Those extensive benefits, such as the cost of college debt forgiveness, were simply also added to the already massive federal debt.

While federal pandemic benefit extensions have now largely expired, recent studies suggest that Americans still have more than $2 trillion in excess savings as a result. Even some Democrats blame those expansions on the 40-year high inflation that has hit low-income Americans hardest. But none of that has stopped the latest $500 billion increase in government spending, which came just a week after President Joe Biden promised “we’re cutting deficits to fight inflation.” If only that were true.

This article originally appeared in the AEIideas blog and is reprinted with kind permission from the American Enterprise Institute.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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