Remember when Congress passed a gargantuan COVID-19 relief package after hundreds of mayors and governors cried out for “immediate action?” You might be old enough to recall that President Joe Biden and company responded by donning blue capes and flying to the rescue with a $1.9 trillion spending package ostensibly designed to keep America afloat amid the pandemic.
But what happened to all that dough? If one takes a closer look at where the money went, they might be tempted to conclude that the COVID-19 situation wasn’t as much of an “emergency” as these officials claimed.
COVID Funds Are Staying Put?
According to the AP, most of the hundreds of cities that requested emergency funds from Biden & Friends haven’t spent one thin dime of the relief funds they were so generously handed earlier this year. Indeed, even the ones who have spent some of the money aren’t exactly doing so on an urgent basis.
Many local and state governments reported that they were still considering how they would spend their share of the funds. The bill was signed into law on March 11, so these governments have had the moola stuffed in their mattresses for months.
The AP explained that even though the president signed the bill in March, the Treasury Department did not “release the money and spending guidelines until May,” and that “some state legislatures already had wrapped up their budget work for the next year,” which mean governors did not have the authority to spend the cash that continues to burn a hole in their pockets. Other states decided to wait several more months before asking the federal government for their share of the bounty.
Some officials working in these cities did not view the need for more money as urgent since they were “still trying to figure out how to spend previous rounds of federal pandemic aid.” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer attempted to spin this insanity into something resembling a justifiable expense when he told the AP: “It’s a lot of money that’s been put out there. I think it’s a good sign that it hasn’t been frivolously spent.”
Nice try, Greg.
However, it also appears those who drafted the “emergency” legislation gave states until the end of 2024 to make commitments as to how they would allocate the funds and until the end of 2026 to actually spend the money.
Gene Sperling, White House American Rescue Plan coordinator, also tried his hand at the spinning wheel, telling the AP that the funding was to both “address any crisis needs” and give “longer-term fire power to ensure a durable and equitable recovery.”
He added: “The fact that you can spread your spending out is a feature, not a bug, of the program. It is by design.”
More Wasteful Spending
Even Mr. Magoo could see that these states and cities were not in an emergency that called for emergency funds. If they were, at least half – if not most – would have already been spent. If this were meant to be a long-term plan, it would make no sense to call it “emergency aid.”
By the way, speaking of emergency aid, the CARES Act, which was passed under Trump in March 2020, had already granted almost $2 trillion in aid. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that $250 billion is still unspent, meaning that the American Rescue Act just piled on $1.9 trillion on top of what these cities and states already had.
This reeks of government wastefulness and shows a glaring disregard for how the state lacks the ability to steward America’s wealth. Indeed, this was nothing but a cash grab for local and state governments. But, what else would one expect?
~ Read more from Jeff Charles.