American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
Became Law on March 11, 2021
With the new year and a new Spring came new regulation and new spending from our nation’s Congress and President. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan became law, being sold to the American public as something that was going to improve the lives of “workers and middle-class folks.” The problem, as with all legislation this massive and far-reaching in scope, is that it is much different and much more than the American people are told.
What were we told? We were told that the act provides direct payments of $1,400 to some people. It extends unemployment benefits. It provides assistance to small businesses. It extends healthcare coverage. It provides for food assistance. It provides protection for renters. It provides money for vaccinations.
In addition to telling us about all these benefits in his remarks on March 12, 2021, President Biden also said, “For too long, it’s been the folks at the top. They’re not bad folks. A significant number of them know they shouldn’t be getting the tax breaks they had. But it put the richest Americans first, who benefited the most.”
Before jumping into the plan, let’s look at this comment about tax breaks. Take breaks, loopholes, or pick you term, are placed in the tax code by members of Congress — by the Joe Bidens of the nation. People who apply such tax breaks or use such loopholes are doing nothing more than playing by the rules set up by our elected representatives. And why do loopholes exist? In part, they are political paybacks, quid pro quo, to political supporters (i.e., donors) and their special interests. Regardless of how loopholes have made it into the tax code, they are there and there is nothing wrong with using them. Mr. Biden’s characterization, making it sound as if “the folks at the top” are engaged in some sort of nefarious dealings, is not only disingenuous and dishonest, it’s hypocritical. After all, for more than 30 years, he’s been part of the problem in how the tax code has grown and evolved (although devolved may be a more appropriate word).
We’re told that the federal government is needed to pull us through the pandemic, and in order to do so they need to spend $1.9 trillion. FALSE. We not only do not need the federal government to do this for us, we would likely be better off if the government got out of the way and let the People do what is needed. We the People would most assuredly use our resources in a more responsible way than the federal government, thereby getting us on the road to recovery much faster and in harmony with our civics.
What else is in the plan? There is quite a bit, actually. Just to balance out the picture provided by the President, permit me, kind reader, to share with you a few other items “the folks at the top” will be paying or on behalf of the rest of America.
· $400 million for animal surveillance related to COVID infection, of which $100 million is designated for overtime fees for federal workers.
· $1.01 billion for socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and forest landowners — in addition to other money normally set aside for this purpose.
· $800 million for the Food for Peace Act, which uses U.S. taxpayer money to buy American-produced food to send to foreign nations. It is a program in which only 30 percent of its funding actually goes to getting food to the hungry of other nations, and in actuality is designed to protect U.S. shipping and build future markets for U.S. products. There is also very little evidence that the program advances peace.
· $122+ billion to the department of education, purportedly to help schools re-open but which also dictates education standards through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as well as several other related pieces of legislation.
· $2.75 billion to non-public schools that primarily serve students from low-income families. Let there be no doubt that those billions of dollars come with strings attached.
· $1.26 billion specifically for two universities: Gallaudet U. and Howard U.
· $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts.
· $135 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
· $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
· $825 million for the Corporation for National and Community Service.
· $27.975 million for the Railroad Retirement board, none of which actually goes to retired railroad workers.
· $1.85 billion for IT and cybersecurity (i.e., Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S. Digital Service, Technology Modernization Fund).
· $1.05 billion for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
· $600 million for the National Science Foundation.
· $276 million for Aging and Disability Services.
· $8.675 billion for the Foreign Assistance Act.
Remember, this is just a sampling of all the provisions and give-aways that are included in the act. The bill also includes major changes to the tax code and regulations governing pensions.
It is difficult to align any of the above or any of the other line items in the act to constitutionally assigned responsibilities of the federal government. People often point to the “promote the general welfare” clause, but they fail to understand that such promotion is only achieved through limited government influence in our lives. The general welfare clause was not intended to function as limitless license to rule people’s lives, nor was it intended to be an open checkbook for politicians and bureaucrats. The Founders witnessed the deleterious effects of a heavy-handed government on their lives and livelihoods.
Tyranny, if I may use the term, promotes the specific welfare of the ruling class at the expense of the general welfare. In their time in office, politicians grow wealthy. Do you? If you do, I suspect it is in spite of the hurdles government erects in your path and in mine.
Every dollar of the $1.9 trillion will be taken from We the People — our current generation and generations yet to come. During the pandemic, we’ve had to tighten our purse strings. Why, pray tell, has the government chosen to grow instead? It is not out of any sort of respect for or deference to our system of government. It is solely out of the pernicious lust for power that infects the political class far worse than any pandemic.