The Biden administration has released a new National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that — surprise, surprise — calls for billions in new spending. The initiative is unnecessary, wasteful and will spark additional inflation.
Why in the middle of plunging COVID case, hospitalization and death rates do we need additional spending? New cases have fallen by 90% from their Jan. 15 peak and are back to some of the lowest levels seen in the pandemic. New COVID hospital admissions have fallen by 80% since mid-January to levels not seen in over a year. Deaths — a lagging indicator — have been falling steadily since the beginning of February.
The White House claims more money is needed to vaccinate Americans, including children under 5. But the FDA has delayed approval of vaccines in that young age group and the CDC has not recommended it. It is not clear that either agency ever will. Seventy-five percent of those 18 and older, including 89% of the most vulnerable who are 65 and older, are already fully vaccinated and about half the country has natural immunity from previous infections. COVID poses little risk of serious illness to those below age 18.
Moreover, spending more, as the White House requests, for vaccine outreach and education after a year of non-stop public appeals, is unlikely to convince the minority of people who have thus far refused the shot.
The administration is also asking Congress to reinstate tax credits for businesses to provide paid sick and family leave. This seems unnecessary with rapidly declining numbers of cases that are overwhelmingly mild. Moreover, as the economy struggles to get people back into the labor force, it seems counterproductive to restore a program that pays people not to work.
A more fundamental question is why additional COVID appropriations are needed when much of the previously appropriated money remains unspent? The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan of 2021 was passed through the reconciliation process with no Republican support and signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. It followed the $2.2 trillion CARES act from March 2020 and the $900 billion Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 enacted in December 2021.
There has never been a clear accounting of where and how much of this roughly $5 trillion in appropriated money has been spent. While the federal government has committed to spend the majority of these funds, it has yet to spend all that it has formally committed. Moreover, roughly $500 billion has not even been obligated yet by any federal agency.
Read the full article at The New York Post.