Joe Biden wants to go big when it comes to COVID-19 relief.
“Right now, Congress should come together and pass a COVID relief package like the HEROES Act that the House passed six months ago,” the presumptive winner of the presidential election said during a news conference Nov. 16, according to a transcript. “Once we shut down the virus and deliver economic relief to workers and businesses, then we can start to build back better than before.”
The HEROES Act, passed by the Democrat-controlled lower chamber, involves $2 trillion in aid. That’s on top of the trillions we’ve already spent.
If the Democrats end up winning both Georgia runoffs in January and gain control of the Senate — and decide the filibuster is for dupes — that price tag could get even heftier.
Just don’t expect any of the money to be used to reopen schools.
In Biden’s first extensive post-election sit-down interview, aired Tuesday on NBC, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt asked the Democratic candidate about the recent closure of New York City’s public school system and what he would do “to get kids back in school.”
“How much will you be working the phones and working with governors and mayors?” Holt asked.
Answer: Not a whole bloody lot, because the former vice president is all about fiscal continence.
“Well, it takes a lot of money to get them back,” Biden said.
“The estimates are $150 to $200 billion for the year it would take to get — safely open our schools,” he said.
You need to change the ventilation systems in public schools, Biden said. You have to change how employees conduct themselves, “everyone from the sanitary workers right through to the bus drivers.” Also, classes need to happen in smaller modules. All apparently insuperable hurdles for a prospective Biden administration.
And then there’s this from Holt: “You’ve got schools closed right now in places where restaurants are open. Are our priorities correct?”
“I think we should be able to do both,” said Biden, who then proceeded to tell us why we couldn’t do both.
“I’m very concerned about the schools, and I — for example, I was on a call yesterday with Mayor de Blasio, the largest school district in the country,” Biden said, referring to New York’s Bill de Blasio. “He is in a position where it cost tens of millions of dollars to be able to safely open their schools.
“So, there’s a lot we can do, but it is the single best expenditure of our dollars we could engage in now is to provide for these kinds of protection, not only the protective gear, but the PPP, meaning the ability to allow businesses and other operations to be able to open and have the wherewithal, the financial aid to open safely.”
The first argument against doing both: We can’t spend the money. The second argument against doing both: Our best investment isn’t our children but our businesses.
Yes, apparently the most powerful member of the party whose voters once affixed an obscene number of “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber” stickers to the bumpers of their Subarus suddenly thinks your neighborhood bar is a better candidate for government spending than the education system.
Of course, the teachers unions, whose members were so fond of those Pentagon bake-sale stickers, also have a fair bit of sway with Democrat leadership, and they don’t want in-person teaching, which may have something to do with Biden prioritizing business stimulus in this false dichotomy.
Whatever the case, this undercuts Biden’s message of going big on COVID-19 relief funding.
Few budgetary items would have the return on investment as ensuring our kids got back into the classroom. Remote learning has proven to be wildly ineffective, particularly for students with special needs and from low-income families.
A return to schools would also see the greatest benefit to low-income households for whom the costs of day care and technology are simply infeasible.
This should be Democrat red meat.
Also, schools haven’t proven to be known vectors of transmission. Take the New York City public school system, which closed when the city hit an arbitrary 3 percent positive COVID test rate.
According to ABC News, at the time of the closure, the positive test rate in the city’s public school system was 0.23 percent. The New York Times reported there were only 28 positives — 20 staff and eight students. There’s no evidence transmission happened at school, either.
De Blasio was thrown under the bus by the governor of his own state, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who signed onto a statement by a group of Northeastern governors that “in-person learning is safe when the appropriate protections are in place, even in communities with high transmission rates.”
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) November 19, 2020
But apparently, we’ve got a budget hawk in the White House, one who won’t balk at the $2 trillion Democrat coronavirus relief package — a bill that includes plenty of money for bailouts, including $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service.
And, in fact, there’s plenty of money in the HEROES Act for education: $175 billion of it for K-12. Not a single cent of it is contingent upon schools reopening for in-person learning, however, unlike in proposals introduced in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Thank heavens Joe Biden cares about our budgetary waistline, though.
American parents whose kids have to learn from home for the foreseeable future ought to remember his grave concern for out-of-control federal spending going forward, particularly when he wants us to get behind wasteful spending.
Like, for instance, the HEROES Act.
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