Columnist: Big government is here to stay after COVID-19

More and more Americans are coming to the realization that regardless of government orders, COVID-19 is likely here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

Of course, that won’t stop the federal government from continuing to overstep their authority with regard to the pandemic — and as David Davenport argued in a column for the Washington Examiner Tuesday, the antics out of Washington aren’t likely to end any time soon. 

A consequence of COVID

Writing for the Examiner, Davenport, a research fellow at the Hoover Institute, said the government is unlikely to scale back its control over Americans even after the pandemic subsides.

As evidence, Davenport pointed to the continuing debate in Congress over President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending package. If Biden and Democrats fully leverage their slim majorities, the bulk of those funds will go toward a variety of social programs that will impact Americans from “cradle-to-grave.”

In his op-ed, Davenport called comfort with increased government spending a “consequence of COVID-19.”

“We have gotten comfortable with increased government spending everywhere,” he wrote for the Examiner, “from health to education to unemployment and housing. Biden’s new $3.5 trillion social program would grow not only government spending, but also its role in people’s lives.”

Davenport pressed: “How about paid family leave for births? Free or affordable child care? Two years of universal pre-K schooling? An increased child tax credit? Two years of free college? Expansion of Medicare to cover dental and vision?”

A look ahead

But the first question shouldn’t be where or how money should be spent, but whether the government has any business spending it in the first place, Davenport argues, citing a fascinating but lengthy 1979 essay from noted political scientist James Q. Wilson outlining how Congress shifted its mindset beginning in the late 1960s.

Following an explosion of government activity, debate on the Hill shifted away from whether the government should do something to instead jumping right to how it should be done, Wilson wrote.

This seems to mimic legislators’ outlook in the era of COVID, as Congress has already spent at least $6 trillion in efforts to address the pandemic and mitigate the economic and health damages caused by it, according to a March report from Fox Business.

The reasoning often put forth by members of Congress is that COVID-19 constitutes a dire emergency requiring drastic intervention, which they’ve long vowed would be temporary. But the late free-market economist Milton Friedman put it best: “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”

The pandemic will eventually end — or at least subside to the point where we can get back to our lives — but all of the government overreach and excessive spending in response to the public health crisis will live on to some extent or another, plaguing us for decades to come.

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