Social Safety Nets

The nearly $2 trillion Wuhan Virus “relief” bill, the American Rescue Plan Act, wending its way through Congress on strictly party lines, is being masqueraded as a safety net for folks badly impacted by the Wuhan Virus situation.

Aside from the plain fact that no such bill is needed anymore—our economy is rapidly recovering, and would continue to do so were it not for the Biden administration’s burgeoning reregulation imperative, explosive spending plans, and its impending tax increases—there’s another aspect of this bill.

I’ve written elsewhere about the 91% of spending in this bill that has absolutely nothing to do with the virus. This is about the “safety net” spending. That spending includes items like these:

  • the largest direct stimulus payments ever provided in legislation at $1,400 per adult who filed tax returns with a Social Security number—which is nearly every working, or was working, person. It includes retirees, who lost no income due to the virus, and so they do not need virus stimulus/replacement money
  • expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to the largest amount on record.
    • increases the Child Tax Credit amount to $3,000 per child and $3,600 for children under age six
    • increases the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit in 2021 from $543 to $1,502
  • continues the temporary weekly federal unemployment payments of $300 on top of state jobless benefits
  • recipients will get a tax waiver on $10,200 of unemployment payments. Heretofore, unemployment payments, as income replacement payments, were taxable as ordinary income
  • $86 billion bailout for union-managed multi-employer pension plans and single employer pension plans
  • $27.4 billion for rental and utility payment assistance
  • 15% benefit increase for food stamp recipients
  • reparations—direct payments, to the tune of 120% of outstanding indebtedness, for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers
  • “aid”—bailouts—for State and local governments—every bit as much handout to these political entities as are the above to individuals

All of these are handouts paid to folks who aren’t working and encourage, however weakly, those folks to continue not working and collecting the handouts. They’re not hands up paid to folks who are looking for work, are working temporarily reduced hours, and especially there are no criteria tying the payments to actively seeking work or increased work.

A legitimate social safety net would be a program that offers limited hands up to folks who’ve had a run of bad luck, or who have exercised bad judgment and learned their lesson, or who have misbehaved and mended their ways. Those hands up also would be tied to measurable efforts to find work or increased hours of work.

Giving handouts—especially broadly targeted or altogether untargeted handouts—making them repeatably renewable or outright permanent, and not keying them to working is no safety net. It’s

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