Washington, D.C., may be under lockdown, but Congress is still in business and looking for ways to spend our taxpayer dollars to address the COVID-19 crisis. 

So far, Congress has spent about $3 trillion on several stimulus packages to boost resoruces for hospitals and frontline workers, help businesses stay afloat, and provide American families with economic relief. So far, negotiations have been a bipartisan effort based on a common agreement that the nation needs federal help.

The conversation has shifted to yet another behemoth federal stimulus package full of expensive and unnecessary proposals that would inflict great economic damage. It’s likely to significantly eclipse cumulative federal funding so far.

Meanwhile, previous stimulus funding has not yet been spent, we don’t have oversight on how it has been used, and we’re racking up the national debt–sticking our grandkids with a bill they may never be able to pay.

Funding for more testing and protective medical equipment are not controversial, but here are  9 proposals that are sure to make you shudder: 

  1. Extending the $600 added unemployment benefits indefinitely – A big disincentive to keep workers from returning to their jobs.
  2. Giving small businesses grants of up to $250,000 – The Paycheck Protection Program was already extended, yet there is a call for another round of grants with 75 percent going to “underrepresented” businesses.
  3. A $1 trillion blank check to state and local governments – Some states mismanaged their funds before COVID-19 broke out and now they want taxpayers to bail them out.
  4. $2,000 in monthly checks to every adult – Universal basic income will undoubtedly discourage workers from returning to their jobs.
  5. Federalizing the electoral system potentially ahead of November’s elections.
  6. Saving the U.S. Postal Service – Memes about the reliability of private delivery services compared to USPS make the case for why a postal service bailout is not a good idea.  
  7. Improve broadband infrastructure in underserved communities – What about rural areas? We want to encourage the private sector to work with the government to expand broadband across America not just to certain communities.
  8. Release “vulnerable” people from prison to protect them from COVID-19 – Releasing individuals whose situation doesn’t warrant early release just to keep them healthy can lead to other crimes and safety risks.
  9. Cancellation of rents and home mortgage payments through the coronavirus pandemic – Landlords and banks would revolt, but the expectation is Uncle Sam would quiet them with more taxpayer money.

These are just some of the concerning congressional proposals being floated. 

Like a child’s Christmas wishlist, there’s no consideration for how much it would all cost, who pays for it, and whether someone else would be left worse off.

Taxpayers are Santa in this situation. In 2019, half of the $3.5 trillion collected by the federal government came from individual income taxes ($1.7 trillion) and another third from payroll taxes ($1.2 trillion). As layoffs increase, federal revenue will drop which leaves less funding even as Congress is demanding more in stimulus money.

In addition, outside interest groups are using the COVID-19 crisis to make regulatory demands including capping interest rates on small-dollar loans (such as payday loans and car title loans) that will hurt many of the people they purport to help.

For example, Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of labor, consumer, and interest groups formed in the wake of the financial crisis, says the next stimulus bill MUST cap interest rates. If Congress passes such a measure, it would dry up funding sources for cash-strapped Americans who lack savings or cannot secure loans from traditional banking sources. Here’s why and we dispel lies about payday loans here.

Now more than ever, we need restraint in Washington. The government shutdown our nation bringing our economy to a near standstill to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and ensure that our healthcare system would not be overwhelmed by cases. Stimulus aid is a reasonable response to helping workers and businesses that have been sidelined by no fault of their own. But, aid should be targeted, temporary, and flexible. These proposals fill none of these requirements.

Congress is using COVID-19 to push the boundaries. The hardships they trigger will be born by today’s workers and tomorrow’s taxpayers.