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Critics reject $1.9 trillion Biden COVID plan as 'liberal wishlist'

Critics say redistributionist plan subsidizes teachers' unions and may enact racially discriminatory spending priorities in the name of 'social justice.'

Updated: January 19, 2021 - 9:32am

Critics of President-Elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-related spending plan say the proposal goes far beyond coronavirus relief into subsidizing teachers' unions and prioritizing taxpayer money to be spent on non-white, non-male-owned businesses rather than taking a color- and gender-blind approach.

Biden's proposal comes in addition to the $900 billion passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last month, and on top of the $2.9 trillion stimulus package passed in the spring of 2020.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a self-described "democratic socialist" called Biden's plan just a "first installment."

In an interview with the "Just the News AM" television program, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) called the plan "another multitrillion dollar liberal wishlist" that she opposed. 

"I just hope that President-Elect Biden looks to work with Republicans, rather than just really bowing to the far left, the AOC wing of the party where I think there's gonna be a lot of pressure to do that," Stefanik said, alluding to the bloc led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

The Biden transition team did not respond to a request for comment from Just the News.

Though the Biden plan carves out $70 billion for COVID-related vaccines, therapies and testing (this is on top of the $42 billion passed last month), critics of the plan say that the vast majority of the rest of the funding is more focused on income redistribution to advance long-term Democratic social policies.

Brad Polumbo, opinion editor at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), said that he was troubled by Biden's statement in a recent video that in fighting the coronavirus his "priority will be Black-, Latino-, Asian- and Native American-owned small businesses, women-owned businesses, and finally having equal access to resources needed to reopen and rebuild." 

"It's unclear exactly what form this will take or what the policy specifics would entail," Polumbo wrote in a FEE blog post. "But if Biden intends to enact racially discriminatory COVID-19 aid programs in the name of 'social justice,' he'll run into the same moral and legal problems that plague all such misguided efforts."

Biden's plan would also provide additional $1,400 checks to most Americans, the vast majority of whom are currently employed, at an estimated cost of $400 billion.

Economists John Cogan and John Taylor, senior fellows at the Hoover Institution, argued in a recent op-ed that the checks won't provide an immediate boost of economic growth or consumer spending jolt because people don't change their spending behavior unless they expect long-term earnings to change. They noted research from the National Bureau of Economic Research about the CARES Act, which found that "most respondents report that they primarily saved or paid down debts with their transfers, with only about 15 percent reporting that they mostly spent it."

The plan seeks to raise the minimum wage to a uniform $15 an hour nationwide, which critics say is a rigid standard that is harmful for small businesses in parts of the country that are less expensive than, say, New York City or Los Angeles.

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"Biden's COVID plan isn't all bad (strategies to curb the virus, for example) but using a relief bill to double the cost of employing people when thousands of small businesses are closing and millions are out of work isn't a solution, it's a foolish, partisan wish-list item," tweeted Akash Chougule, vice president of economic opportunity for Stand Together, a network funded in part by conservative billionaire Charles Koch. 

"Schools that stayed closed (and laid off employees) will be rewarded with $130 billion to open—with no guarantees that they will," the Wall Street Journal editorial board argued. "This is a payoff to unions that have refused to open schools even as most private schools have. Public and historically black colleges will get $35 billion, but nada for private schools."