As of this writing, the United States Senate is debating the proposed increase in direct payments to Americans from $600 to $2000, as demanded by President Donald Trump.
The amount increase breezed through the House, albeit not as easily as the full bill did just the week prior, 275-134, with several Republicans choosing not to vote (or unable to) and 44 other red state representatives jumping in with the Democrats with the theory being they’re siding with Trump, who proposed the payments.
This is a rare case where the Democrats and Pres. Trump agree.
However, it’s important to note that nothing else in the bill changes. The increase in direct payments is the only item on the agenda.
Last week, we discussed on these very pages the issues that the ‘pork’ in the COVID-19 recovery bill posed. As time went on, more analysis went into the bill and more… issues were discovered as each portion of the 5,000 page tome were analyzed.
Some of which go well beyond the complaints filed by American citizens about payments that were scheduled to go abroad.
Did you know, for instance, that congress had slipped in raises into this bill? Congress, arguably, has a job that’s probably worth more than their paid (depending on who you ask) but was now the time for pay increases? No, especially as millions are without work.
How about $1 billion to the Smithsonian? Again, arguably, the institute is a necessity to maintain the history and heritage of America and, in some cases, the world. But a full year’s operating budget? When only 62% of their operating expenses come from congress annually? Seems wasteful.
And then, of course, there’s the $10 million to gender programs in Pakistan that’s making all the headlines.
These issues have caused a great divide among citizens of the United States and their representatives. Pres. Trump demanded $2,000 payments, but very privately issued a special type of return service to Congress – based on 1974 law – with red-item issues throughout the language for certain things to be removed.
As to be expected, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats ignored those guides and went straight for the increased payments. The fate of the bill in the Senate, as of this writing, is unknown.
However, debating the politics – especially the public facing ones – won’t serve any kind of purpose. The fact of the matter is the original bill, with $600 payments and all that pork, has been signed. Those demands by the president are, at best, requests because of the fact that he put his signature down on paper.
But how did we get here? Multi-part bills are a thing, that’s why.
And they are a problem.
Louisiana has benefited from it’s fair share of multi-part bills, including the fix for Duplication of Benefits which was affixed to a bill dedicated to Federal Aviation Administration changes.
But, on the flip side, it’s hard to believe that bill would not have made it through on merit alone.
What we know is that many of those extra expenses tied to COVID-19 relief would not, at least not now, have passed on their own. They aren’t dedicated to economic stimulus or recovery, but rather the push and pull of various representatives and lobbyists needing to get their way before the next congress kicks off in January.
If the Senate passes the bill, the American people receive a short-term win. The long-term problem is spending we, as a country, cannot afford. If the Senate passes the bill, it’ll double the cost of a bill that we, as a country, cannot afford.
It’s a lose-lose proposition amid a pandemic that has been poorly handled because the country is broke with high debt.
That’s why the United States must begin reducing the deficit, so that future disasters can be handled appropriately. And it’s why multi-part bills need to be erased from availability.
In the end, we just can’t afford it.
McHugh David is publisher of the Livingston Parish News.