Conservative Index Add
pagetitle

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020Last Update: Thursday, June 25th, 2020 07:51:39 AM

Mult-Trillion Dollar Tragedy

By: Tim Bakamjian

In late March, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the $2.3 Trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It passed the U.S. Senate 96-0 and the House of Representatives by voice vote. Oklahoma’s two senators and five House members expressed their support. “Oklahomans need relief now,” said Rep. Kevin Hern. “It brings confidence,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin, “that the federal government is taking action to combat the crisis.” Rep. Frank Lucas said it “strengthens our fiscal health and supports U.S. businesses.” Congressman Tom Cole expressed gratitude that President Trump and Congress helped those hardest hit, while Rep. Kendra Horn called it a “step forward in our work to deliver relief for workers, businesses and families.”

Our senior senator, Jim Inhofe, said “it brings Oklahoma families the ability to make ends meet,” while Senator James Lankford especially praised the help CARES gives small businesses and nonprofits, but urged passage of additional funding for those groups.

What a shame. This is a BAD BILL, that will have tragic consequences for the economic health and future well-being of our country. Some of the many reasons are:

No Transparency

The House never had a recorded vote. In fact, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority leader Kevin McCarthy told members to stay home. But Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky) pointed out that, per Article 1 Section 5 of the Constitution (remember that?), a quorum must be present to pass a bill. So enough of them flew back, they debated for four hours (of which Massie wasn’t even allowed one minute) and then passed the largest spending bill in U.S. history by voice vote! No recorded vote enables members to stay less accountable to their constituents during this election year. For his efforts, Massie was called a “third-rate grandstander,” by President Trump and an “***hole who must be quarantined for his massive stupidity” by former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Budget Buster

The CARES Act will widen the annual deficit from $1 trillion this fiscal year, ending September 30th, to about $3.6 trillion. And that’s before the President and Speaker Pelosi add another $3 trillion for infrastructure and additional “stimulus.” This jump in total debt, percentagewise, will resemble Greece, where unemployment reached 27%. The planned 2020 spending spree will exceed, in real terms, the entirety of spending during FDR’s New Deal. It will make LBJ’s Great Society expenditures for The War on Poverty look like a street fight. And the massive 2008 TARP bailout will resemble fiscal constraint compared to what just passed and what’s coming.

Corporate Welfare

Since most people are told to stay home, the centerpiece of the program, as stated by Congressman Justin Amash (I- Mi), should be direct cash relief to the people, not to the Secretary of the Treasury for his own discretion, or to corporations, businesses and current government agencies. Money straight to people in need means businesses could make necessary adjustments to wages and hours without harming workers. Instead, a small fraction of the dollars ends up in the people’s hands. Consider the estimate done by Congressman Massie, an MIT math graduate: Let’s say the government ends up spending $6 trillion to fight Covid-19. We have about 100 million families in the U.S. That means each family should get $60,000 if it’s directly spent on them. Instead, each family will likely get about $3000, based on $1200 per adult and $500 per child. That totals only 5% of the $6 trillion that will be expended. Where’s the rest going? An undisclosed amount is at the discretion of Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and the Federal Reserve. But some of the most egregious examples of this profligate spending are:

$61 billion to the airlines, $30 billion to the Department of Education, $20 billion to the USPS (Post Office), $9.5 billion to “Higher Education”, $1 billion for more Obama phones, $1 billion for AMTRAK, $300 million to Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), $100 million to NASA, $25 million to the Kennedy Center, and $25 million to salaries for the House of Representatives.

Moral Hazard

Should the federal government bail out individuals and businesses for the hardship they’re suffering? It’s a compelling argument, since government lockdowns restricted their ability to earn a living. However, it’s the governors and local officials of each state who imposed the lockdowns, not the federal government. Shouldn’t they be responsible for making their people whole? Perhaps then, they’d work harder to rationally keep their economies open instead of shutting everything down. In short, if state government takes something from you, it should be state government’s obligation to give it back.

Dire Consequences

In a recent video entitled “Bankrupting America,” award-winning journalist John Stossel lists the only three options for paying off this enormous debt: 1. Raise taxes 2. Print money 3. Default. All are awful. If we raise taxes, it kills jobs and income that the rich create. Plus, it never yields the amount hoped for. If we print more money, it causes inflation or perhaps hyperinflation, as seen in Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Argentina and 1920s Germany. A $2 bag of onions, Stossel notes, costs $100 trillion dollar bills in Zimbabwe. Lastly, if we default, which means we refuse to pay our debt, we betray everyone who invested in America. Interest rates would skyrocket worldwide. The stock market would likely crash to levels not seen in decades. And unemployment might quickly reach Great Depression levels.

A Better Way

Rep. Amash and others had the right idea. Instead of wasting money on corporations, useless programs and bureaucracy, government, especially state government, should have focused spending directly on those hardest hit by the government-imposed economic shutdown. Hourly earners and small business people are among the biggest victims. At the same time, Rep. Massie suggests, Washington D.C. should have declared war on the virus, not on the taxpayer. They should spare little expense in quickly developing test kits. If a kit cost $100, that’s only $35 billion to test every American. Have them manufacture and distribute masks to everyone. Plus, develop a 3-D printed ventilator, continue work on a vaccine, and utilize drugs, with medical approval, that have shown positive results. Hydroxychloroquine comes to mind. As well, replace state shutdowns with strict guidelines, particularly for the elderly and those with certain pre-existing conditions. After all, we are a free society. Aren’t we?

Conclusion

Nearly unanimous passage of the largest spending bill in world history shows how far we’ve fallen from free market principles. Only five House members and one senator (Rand Paul, who was self-quarantined with Covid-19) voiced opposition to this pork-laden monstrosity. That’s six members out of 535, or 1.2%. What’s ironic for Oklahomans is this bill became law within days of former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s untimely passing. Can you see Dr. Coburn, renowned for his fiscal conservatism, voting for this? I can’t.

When he ran two years ago for the 1st District Congressional seat, Oklahoma state senator Nathan Dahm (100% Oklahoma Conservative Index score) was once asked who his favorite U.S. House of Representatives member was. “Thomas Massie,” he answered without hesitation. Remember that as our current D.C. politicians spend us into bankruptcy.

Tim Bakamjian is an independent real estate broker and investor living in Tulsa. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kenyon College in Ohio and a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Tulsa. He’s married with one grown child. Political and economic issues have been a life-long interest. He may be contacted at: tbakamjian@gmail.com

About Tim Bakamjian

Tim Bakamjian is an independent real estate broker and investor living in Tulsa. He holds a bachelors degree in political science from Kenyon College in Ohio and a bachelors in journalism from the University of Tulsa. Hes married with one grown child. Political and economic issues have been a life-long interest. He may be contacted at: tbakamjian@gmail.com

Other Articles By Tim Bakamjian

Mult-Trillion Dollar Tragedy

In late March, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the $2.3 Trillion Coronavirus Aid...

Rating Oklahomas Members of the U.S. House

The 116th U.S. Congressional Session is more than halfway complete, having begun in January, 2019....

Trump Is Right, OK Delegation Wrong On Syria

When Will They Ever Learn?, sang the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary more than 50 years ago in...

Hamilton Is Coming, But Im Not Going

Hamilton the smash-hit Broadway musical is coming to Oklahoma. A whopping 48 shows are...

Stitts Strong Start

In his January 14th inaugural address, Governor Kevin Stitt outlined a clear set of goals for his...

The Medicaid Mess and How to Deal with it

Medicaid is a means-tested entitlement program that is overseen by the federal government, but is...

Stitt vs. Edmondson: A Comparison of Candidates

Oklahomas two main gubernatorial candidates are sharply different in background and approach to...

Other Constitution Columnists

Ron McWhirter

Covid-19 Impacts the 2020 Oklahoma Conservative Index
We believe the most important product of this publication is our annual Oklahoma Conservative Index...

Steve Byas

Jim Inhofe
Perhaps another person could take his place and do an even better job than Jim Inhofe, but I...

Linda Murphy

Oklahoma Education, Covid and Global Control
Since Spring Break, the public schools have been closed due to COVID 19, bringing children and their...

Charlie Meadows

Evaluating the Governor and Legislature under Covid-19 and the Medicaid Expansion
My article in the Winter edition evaluated Governor Stitts performance after a year in office. This...

Tim Bakamjian

Mult-Trillion Dollar Tragedy
In late March, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the $2.3 Trillion Coronavirus Aid...

Shane Smith

A Self-Inflicted Apocalypse
Youve really got to hand it to COVID-19; in a matter of weeks it has accomplished what the War on...

Theodore King

The Federal Page
This is a noteworthy column. It is my 81st column. I began writing for The Oklahoma Constitution...

David Deming

Social Justice and....Fried Chicken?
Since an infamous 2015 incident involving members of the SAE fraternity chanting racial epithets,...

Richard Engle

In this Time
I remember hectic times. I remember busy days. I remember missing appointments because of crazed...

John Michener

Time for Executive Orders
Do we have any mighty men of faith who will establish justice in the midst of the current crisis?...

In The News

Constitution Staff

Oklahoma Presidential Primary Election
Oklahoma was among14 states holding Presidential Primary Elections on March 3, 2020 in what is known...

Constitution Staff

Statewide Races and Congressional Seats on Ballot
In 2020, the Oklahoma candidate filing period was April 8-10. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ...

Constitution Staff

Republicans Will Retain Control of Legislature
The candidate filing period for the Oklahoma Legislature this year was April 8-10. Due to the COVID...

Constitution Staff

Legislature Considers Bills
The Oklahoma Legislature went into its annual mid-session recess on March 18, which coincides with...

Constitution Staff

Oklahoma Legislators Rated
The Oklahoma Constitution presents the 42nd annual Oklahoma Conservative Index rating our state...

Constitution Columnists

Ron McWhirter

Covid-19 Impacts the 2020 Oklahoma Conservative Index
We believe the most important product of this publication is our annual Oklahoma Conservative Index...

Steve Byas

Jim Inhofe
Perhaps another person could take his place and do an even better job than Jim Inhofe, but I...

Linda Murphy

Oklahoma Education, Covid and Global Control
Since Spring Break, the public schools have been closed due to COVID 19, bringing children and their...

© 2001 - 2009 The Oklahoma Constitution, all rights reserved.
Contact the Oklahoma Constitution by calling 405-366-1125 or emailing okconsti@aol.com
Content Management System (CMS) provided by WebTeks CMS.