Less than two weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. It's the single-largest spending bill passed in United States history and even though its funds haven't been disbursed, elected officials are already calling for yet more tax dollars to be spent to prop up the economy during an extended lockdown.
Last week, Trump said he wants another $2 trillion in spending, to be devoted to infrastructure, as phase four of the federal response to the pandemic. "It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country!" announced the president via Twitter. For those keeping score, the president has been promising "infrastrcture week" since at least 2017 and Trump's ritualized invocation of shoveling massive amounts of money at roads, bridges, airports, and the like even has its own entry at Urban Dictionary.
With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2020
Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) announced plans to push for at least another $1 trillion in new spending. From the Associated Press:
On an afternoon conference call with House Democrats, Pelosi told lawmakers at least another $1 trillion would be needed, according to a person unauthorized to discuss the call and granted anonymity.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) has told A.P. "that there will be another package and health care must be at the 'top of the list.'"
Early indicators about the efficacy of the CARES Act and federal efforts to prop up the economy are not promising. On Friday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) botched the online rollout of a loan program and early responses to various bailouts are not heartening. In order to maximize payouts from the government, airlines are flying empty planes and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., notoriously fired 100 musicians "just hours after President Trump signed a $25 million taxpayer bailout for the cultural center."
With Congress adjourned for most of April, it's not clear exactly when the next coronavirus spending bill will be passed, though A.P. says Pelosi has pledged to vote on a new package before the end of the month.
A week ago, I spoke with Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.), a critic of the CARES Act who warned that Congress would soon be voting to spend trillions of dollars more. Watch here:
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