Economy: For now, some welcome relief

No doubt some members of Congress had to hold their noses while they were voting for the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. CARES includes a ton of money for initiatives that have nothing to do with COVID-19. Why on earth did anyone think it was important to cough up $25 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in Washington, D.C.?

Still, members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were right to approve the bill, in overwhelming bipartisan fashion. Handling it as nearly all legislation is dealt with on Capitol Hill would have delayed critical assistance for months.

Additional spending to help Americans deal with and rebound from the epidemic is being considered now. It may include trillions more in federal spending — and that spells opportunity for special interests of both the ideological and financial kinds.

“Green New Deal” spending sought by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and others was excluded from the CARES Act. Rest assured they will try again.

Other proposals, such as one to spend billions of dollars on what supporters call a “Lifeline” initiative to expand broadband internet access, also will be brought forth. Clearly, by the time additional broadband funding could be spent, the immediate health-related need for it would be over.

Again, however, ideology-related proposals are far from the only peril in a second COVID-19 recovery bill. The CARES Act already includes a measure some critics have said could save wealth real estate investors as much as $170 billion during the next decade. Is that really necessary?

Lawmakers and President Donald Trump did the right thing in acting quickly on the CARES Act. Reasonable objections to some provisions in its 880 pages had to be put aside to ensure tens of millions of Americans know the help they need is coming quickly.

But moving forward, more care needs to be taken to avoid making CARES Version 2.0 a giveaway to special interests of all kinds. With the national debt at $23.6 trillion — plus $2.2 trillion — we simply can’t afford to spend money we don’t have unless the need is clear and critical.


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