Democratic politicians and pundits have touted the most recent COVID-19 relief bill as a sweeping measure to help struggling Americans who have seen their lives upended by the ongoing public health crisis.
Recent statements by Vice President Kamala Harris, however, indicate that there was an ulterior motive in pushing for the $1.9 trillion plan — namely, to throw money at various social issues and concerns.
“This is a waste of money”
In fact, she admitted this week that it was an “intentional” aspect of the American Rescue Plan to benefit individuals and causes not directly related to the pandemic.
The bill, which passed without any legislative support from Republicans on Capitol Hill, faced opposition on the basis that much of the spending was not geared toward relief associated with COVID-19.
For his part, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) denounced the plan as a not-so-subtle way for Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to help out her political allies.
“This is a waste of money, less than 9% is going to COVID,” he said during a recent Fox News Channel interview. “This is payoff to [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s political friends.
Citing similar concerns, U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) called the bill a “Democrat wish list of socialist programs.”
“To do what has long been overlooked”
Based on Harris’s recent remarks, it appears the GOP criticism of the relief plan was justified. At an event on Friday, she pointed to the funding of childcare and other programs as a planned feature of the behemoth bill.
“This was the intentional purpose of the American Rescue Plan, which was to look at childcare, to look at our childcare workers, to look at our children, to bring them out of poverty,” the vice president declared.
She went on to defend her party’s intentions, adding: “And to do what has long been overlooked, which is to understand that our children — we cannot in public policy subordinate them, as you know, is because I guess they’re little people, little problems.”
Among the provisions included in the bill is a boost to the child tax credit and expansion of eligibility for such credits. Those measures, Harris said, indirectly help children by bolstering the financial situation in American households.
Next up on the Biden administration’s legislative agenda is a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plan said to be split into two parts — one focused on construction projects and the other targeting additional social issues. It remains to be seen exactly what form that proposal will take, but the vice president’s latest remarks might offer some insight into the Democratic Party’s priorities.