Economy & Business

The Only Thing Democrats’ Spending Stimulates Is Washington, D.C.

The sun sets behind the Capitol dome in Washington, D.C., November 6, 2018. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)
Democrats keep passing spending bills that help grow the government, not the economy.

In 2009, both parties took flak for bailing out Wall Street instead of helping Main Street. Unfortunately, Democrats learned the wrong lesson. Now, in the face of a public-health and economic crisis, Democrats are choosing to bail out K Street and liberal special interests instead of helping Main Street.

Washington Democrats were patting themselves on the back after passage of what they called the “American Rescue Plan,” a $2 trillion “COVID-relief” bill of which less than 10 percent goes toward COVID-19 relief and around 1 percent goes toward vaccine development and distribution.

The Democrats used the COVID-19 crisis to enact the beginnings of a new liberal agenda that puts government at the center of every aspect of our lives — an agenda that is rife with payoffs to progressive constituencies and that reflects the leftward lurch of today’s Democratic Party.

It’s an agenda that increasingly appeals to highly educated coastal elites as working-class voters and Hispanic voters flee a Democratic Party that no longer represents their interests.

The Democrats’ so-called COVID-relief bill was a massive expansion of the welfare state. It sent stimulus checks to illegal immigrants and to people in prison. Why? No one can explain. It spent $86 billion to bail out failed union pensions. It spent $270 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Why? No one can explain. It sent $1.5 billion to Amtrak, which still has nearly $1 billion left over from previous COVID-relief bills. It gave $50 million to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

Why? No one can explain.

What we do know is what this bill didn’t do. It didn’t help get economies back open in states across the country. It didn’t help reopen schools — after all, more than 90 percent of the funding Democrats claim will help schools reopen this year won’t be paid until 2022 or later. It didn’t extend the Paycheck Protection Program, a program developed while Republicans controlled the Senate that kept millions of small businesses afloat.

And now the Democrats are moving on to not one but two new multitrillion spending bills that they’re calling “infrastructure” and “once-in-a-generation investments in our nation’s future.” You’ll be shocked to learn that the first bill has very little to do with infrastructure, and that the main things the second bill provides for our nation’s future are more money for liberal priorities and more debt. Together, it’s another massive expansion of the welfare state. Another massive increase in federal government spending. Another massive stimulus bill for Washington, D.C. and for liberal special interests.

I sent a letter a few weeks back that sounded a little wacky to other politicians in Washington. I asked that states and cities — which received a $360 billion bailout in the Democrats’ so-called COVID-relief bill after getting half a trillion dollars in previous packages — return the money to taxpayers that they don’t need to cover federally reimbursable COVID-19 expenses. Contrary to dire warnings, 24 states actually saw their revenue increase during the pandemic, while another 13 states saw a reduction in revenue of less than 2 percent.

Cities in Michigan can’t figure out how to spend the “almost sickening amount of money” they’re receiving, while the $650 million San Francisco got in this bill will help the city solve its long-standing budget problems.

Look, I understand the seductive power of so-called free money. Whether it’s in the form of stimulus checks for individuals, bailouts for cities and states, or the myriad new federal spending programs being inaccurately described as “infrastructure,” the Democrats are loading up legislation up with goodies. I get it. Who wouldn’t take some “free money?”

But the problem is that the money is never “free.” It’s actually your money. They are taking it from one of your pockets, taking a cut for Washington, giving a bunch of it to liberal special interests, Silicon Valley, and corrupt Democrat politicians who have blown big holes in their own states’ and cities’ budgets, then putting a tiny, little bit of what’s left in your other pocket.

This is a walking, talking lie with a dollar sign in front of it. This is the most expensive “free money” the world has ever seen.

I took some flak for saying that states and cities should return some of their bailout money that they don’t need. Coastal elites laughed at the notion of turning down this “free money.”

So be it. They laughed when I turned down “free money” for high-speed rail in Florida. How’s that working out for California?

I’m fighting to protect taxpayer money, because no one else will. I didn’t run for office to be like all the other politicians. I know it’s the political thing to take all the money you can get from the government. That’s the problem here.

But I’m going to continue to speak up, to tell the truth, and to fight to defend taxpayers’ money, even if — especially if — no one else will.

Rick Scott is the junior U.S. senator from Florida. He served as Florida’s governor from 2011 to 2019.

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