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Conservative Review

Vote Alert: The biggest spending bill in American history

Congress just had a major vote. How did your elected official vote?

This was a vote to pass the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package and the largest spending bill in congressional history. This bill provides a $1 trillion bailout for state and local governments, another $1,200 direct payment for individual Americans, expanded unemployment benefits, college debt relief, and a bailout for the United States Postal Service.

When the coronavirus pandemic began, it was unclear what extraordinary government action would be needed to alleviate the economic pain inflicted on Americans by lockdown policies enacted by state governments nationwide. A shocking 36 million Americans are currently unemployed or furloughed and, in some states, remain prohibited from returning to work. The unknown danger presented by COVID-19 provided government a rationale to shut down the economy in the hopes that lives would be saved. Expanded government aid was seen as necessary to compensate American workers for our self-inflicted recession.

Now, circumstances have changed. The American people are armed with a better understanding of COVID-19 learned from fact and experience and must fight not for more government action but instead for the freedom to go back to work.

This spending bill, crafted by House Democrats under Speaker Nancy Pelosi's leadership, repeats the mistakes that worsened the economic crisis of 1929 into a Great Depression that lasted a decade. Rather than encouraging businesses to open and Americans to return to work, Democrats want to expand the current $600 in weekly unemployment benefits, paying workers more to stay home than to return to their jobs and support businesses that need them to survive. Democrats want to issue another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to every American, even the rich and those who still have their jobs and don't need cash payments from the government.

The bill also contains extravagant spending on issues not related to the coronavirus, despite being sold as a coronavirus relief bill. The $1 trillion bailout for state governments goes beyond what states are missing from tax revenue shortfalls due to decreased taxpayer and business earnings and covers state pension debt that has been built up by decades of fiscal irresponsibility. The coronavirus did not cause state pension plans to blow up state budgets, and the American people should not bail out states that failed to cut spending to save their pension programs. Additionally, the bill would reinstate the state and local income tax deduction, or SALT deduction. This is a tax break for the wealthiest Americans living in states with high tax burdens at a time when Congress is proposing to double the size of this year's $3 trillion budget deficit with just one bill.

Also included in the bill is a $25 billion bailout for the Postal Service, up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness, $200 billion in “hazard pay" for workers deemed essential during the lockdowns, and a $100 billion bailout for hospitals facing economic hardship — a hardship that's been inflicted on the health care system by government prohibition of so-called “nonessential" hospital services.

This proposed legislation dwarfs the $2.2 trillion in coronavirus relief Congress already approved in March, which was then the largest stimulus spending bill in American history. The current U.S. federal debt to GDP ratio is 118% — meaning the national debt is 18% larger than the value of the entire United States economy. The record levels of spending and borrowing already reached by Congress threaten to permanently impoverish future generations of Americans.

Instead of providing a path forward for economic recovery, Democrats have proposed a $3 trillion plan to keep workers from working and to bail out the businesses and governments that fail because no one is allowed to go to work. Americans do not need to be bailed out of this recession. They need to be told they are free to show up to their jobs, earn a living, and spend what they earn on the goods and services provided by their neighbors doing the same thing. Freedom is the only viable relief for an economy that committed suicide because of fear.

The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act on May 15, 2020, at 9:24 p.m. ET in a roll call vote of 208-199.

To see how your elected officials stack up or other votes that compose the Liberty Score, view our full scorecard here.

CR position: NO

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