Almost half of the COVID-19 aid package is diverted to non-pandemic priorities: Think Tank

The Committee on the Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) said in its policy analysis of the House of Representatives’ $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid bill, the details of the legislation indicate a trend for funds to be diverted. to non-pandemic priorities, which are not related to providing aid.

“The goal of COVID relief is to end the pandemic, protect income and support economic recovery. The House bill not only spends much more than is necessary to achieve these goals, it also places too many of these abundant dollars in the wrong places, ”said Maya MacGuineas, president of the CRFB, in a statement Wednesday.

The CRFB is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to informing the public about fiscal policy issues that would affect them. The group’s leadership is comprised of prominent budget experts, including former heads of the House and Senate Budget Committees, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget, the Government Accountability Office, and the Board. of the Federal Reserve.

According to the analysis, about 1 percent of the $ 1.9 trillion will go to vaccines, with just another 5 percent going to mitigate public health problems caused by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, « nearly half of the package will be spent on poorly targeted refund checks and aid from state and local government, even for households and governments that have experienced little or no financial loss during this crisis, » MacGuineas said.

MacGuineas criticized the House Ways and Means Committee’s decision to limit unemployment benefits to Aug. 29, in order to use that money for pension bailouts. « The financial status of these funds (multi-employer pensions) should not be addressed in a crisis law, and certainly not at the cost of benefits for unemployed workers. »

The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), In a separate statement Wednesday, said his committee has focused on the needs of the American people.

“In the past two days, the Ways and Means Committee has considered aggressive science-based solutions that will provide the urgent relief our country so desperately needs. From unemployment benefits to health care affordability, the work we’ve done is substantial, « said Neal.

Additional provisions authorized by the Ways and Means Committee for the fiscal year 2021 budget reconciliation bill include giving $ 1,400 to each person, extending unemployment through August 29, expanding tax credits for workers and families, improving health care coverage and curbing the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), which causes COVID-19 disease, in nursing homes.

In addition to the pension bailout, the CRFB also criticized the expansion of the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit, the increase in Affordable Care Act subsidies and the increase in the minimum wage, saying that the provisions are not related to pandemic relief.

“This legislation is supposed to be aimed at ending the pandemic, reviving the economy, and giving Americans the financial relief they need to get through this difficult stretch. We support a specific package that does just that. It is disappointing to see House committees deviate from that mission. It’s time to refocus, ”said MacGuineas.

The House Ways and Means Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.