President Joe Biden has yet to sign the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” spending package billed as coronavirus relief into law, but some members of Congress are already gearing up for another massive pandemic “relief” spending bill in the near future.
When asked Tuesday about the possibility of more COVID-related legislation down the road, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), flippantly replied that reporters would “have to ask the virus,” Just the News reported.
That remark clearly left open the potential for even more coronavirus spending measures, which is remarkable in light of the fact that the current bill hasn’t even been passed yet and large amounts of the prior relief bills have yet to be spent.
Pelosi signals future COVID spending
During a press conference Tuesday to herald the imminent passage of the so-called American Rescue Plan, Pelosi was quick to shut down any hint of criticism over the particulars of the bill or possible ramifications of some of its provisions.
Asked at one point if this was likely to be the last primarily COVID-related piece of legislation, Pelosi replied, “You’re just going to have to ask the virus. If it stops mutating. If it stops spreading and therefore mutating, then this will be.”
“And some of the provisions in here that have a fuse like the expanded tax, the enhanced tax — enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefit that goes until the fall, just — we’ll just see where we are then,” she added. “But it’s not anything anybody can predict. It’s just a question of the science. And we will have legislation to address it for as long as it’s there.”
With regard to her confidence about how successful the current bill would be in reaction to the pandemic, Pelosi said, “What is interesting about this virus is that it’s resourceful. It mutates. It has variants. And so too must we be resourceful and resilient in how we deal with it, but we will be on top of it.”
Taxpayers on the hook
Just the News noted that Pelosi’s mention of enhanced unemployment benefits was in reference to a provision in the current package that would add $300 per week in federal funds on top of the normal state unemployment funds an out-of-work individual could receive. The provision also creates an annual tax write-off for approximately $10,000 in unemployment benefits.
That provision is ostensibly set to expire in September, but like so many other things created “temporarily” by Congress, it is almost certain to be further extended or even be made permanent.
That, in conjunction with the probability that other new benefits and tax credits will be extended or made permanent, poses a substantial burden to future taxpayers.
According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget, it will add several trillion dollars more to the national debt and annual federal deficit. As things stand, and factoring in the likely extensions and permanency of certain benefits and credits, plus interest, the $1.9 trillion package will actually cost taxpayers around $4.1 trillion by 2031.
Without any permanent extensions, the bill alone was estimated to raise the national debt to $37.4 trillion, with an annual deficit of $1.9 trillion, in 10 years. With the likely extensions factored in, the debt would be closer to $42.8 trillion, with a deficit of $2.9 trillion, over the same time span.