President Biden just signed his sweeping $1.9 trillion spending package into law. Once this bill hits the books, total taxpayer expenditure on COVID relief will hit $6 trillion-which, roughly estimated, comes out to $41,870 in spending per federal taxpayer.
Did you see anywhere near that much in benefit?
The sheer immensity of this spending is hard to grasp. For context, $6 trillion is more than one-fourth of what the US economy produces within an entire year, according to Fox Business. The COVID spending blowout is at least eight times larger than the price tag of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's \”New Deal.\”
Moreover, the COVID spending bills have all lost huge sums of money to unrelated carve-outs, politician pet projects, corporate bailouts, fraud, waste, and worse.
In the most recent $1.9 trillion package, more than 90 percent of the spending is not directly related to containing COVID-19. Only 1 percent of the money, about $15 to $20 billion, is allocated to vaccines. Meanwhile, hundreds of billions visit bailing out poorly managed state governments' budget holes that predate the pandemic and $86 billion rescues failing pension plans. Meanwhile, billions more go to Obamacare expansion and subsidizing public schools long afterwards the pandemic.
And that's just scratching the top.
The Math Doesn't Add Up
The numbers here really are quite damning.
For the same $6 trillion in expenditure, the federal government could have given every federal taxpayer a $41,870 check. Or, to consider it a bit differently, it could have written every American roughly an $18,181 check.
Let's compare this to what most Americans actually received.
Only someone who fully collected expanded unemployment benefits throughout the pandemic and received all $3,200 in total of the stimulus payments likely received more than $18,181 in direct benefit from this spending package. And that is a relatively small fraction of the public.
The government cannot give if it does not take from somebody.
Because of the way the government used outdated income data to find out eligibility, many more taxpayers saw nothing or little in exchange for their $41,870 share of the cost, perhaps only the initial $1,200 stimulus or none at all. .
So, for almost all Americans, the actual together with your multiple pieces of lengthy stimulus legislation are available in far, far below the figure they would have received if the entire pile of money was just even split up and sent.
How can that possibly be considered a success? In fact, it's actually a net negative.
Trade-Offs Are Inescapable
Too often, the stimulus conversation is just framed around whether we ought to give money to a certain group of people or program-rather than also such as the trade-offs and costs.
The question isn't just: Don't let send people $1,400 \”stimulus\” checks? It is, instead: Should we send people $1,400 stimulus checks at the cost of taking the equivalent amount from others? It's not just whether we should send $350 billion to state and local governments-but should we do so at the expense of taking an average of $2,442 per federal taxpayer?
The Government isn't Santa Claus
Money doesn't grow on trees. Or, as the great economist Ludwig von Mises put it, the government \”does not have the powers of the mythical Father christmas.\”
\”The truth is the government cannot give whether it does not take from somebody,\” Mises wrote in Bureaucracy. \”They cannot spend except if you take out of the pockets of some people for the benefit of others.\”
The government cannot create wealth out of thin air. It can only give anyone anything via 3 ways:
- Directly increasing taxes, which discourages economic growth and directly takes money from people
- Running up debt, which means higher taxes in the future plus interest, creating a drag on economic growth
- Printing money, which \”stealth taxes\” the general public via inflation
There's no such thing like a free lunch, and, much to the chagrin of spend-happy politicians', Santa Claus is not real. Government spending doesn't build a fortune; it only transfers wealth, generally destroying a lot of it in the process.
So, unless Americans are in fact seeing equal or greater benefit from spending compared to its cost, it is a raw deal for taxpayers. But for the federal government's \”COVID\” spending binge, it isn't even close.
Don't believe me? Well, have you see $41,870 in benefit from these programs? Or perhaps $18,181?
For almost everyone, the honest answer is no.
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and Opinion Editor in the Foundation for Economic Education.