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COVID-19 Legislation: More Manipulation of Americans

9 April 2021

To our country’s detriment, power-hungry politicians and a cooperative media are manipulating Americans. Democrats have mastered manipulation as a political strategy. Republicans have allowed, and continue to allow, this Democratic strategy to be successful. They enable this destructive strategy by failing to instruct the public regarding governmental processes, sensible reasons for their policy and legislative positions, the basics of economics, and a multitude of similar considerations.

As bothered as one might be by this Republican failing, the fact of life is that Democrats have, very likely intentionally, created a societal atmosphere where it is nearly impossible for Republicans, or anybody else, to do the educating and informing of the general public called for in that first paragraph. That near impossibility is rooted in Democrats: robbing millions of Americans of the capacity for critical thought; promoting focus on self and on group identity; from government, giving just enough to certain groups to gain and retain their support; pitting enough supportive groups against others so that there is a winning Democratic coalition (Identity Politics).

To our country’s detriment, power-hungry politicians and a cooperative media are manipulating Americans.

The end result of all of this is that citizens are manipulated into strongly supporting policies, legislation, and societal standards that, in my estimation, make no sense and even contribute to the looming destruction of this nation as a place of tremendous opportunity and simply an amazing place to live.

What has been presented to this point plays out in real life through the recent passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Consider the high level of public support for that legislation, the reasons for that support, and the public’s understanding of what is included.

There was overwhelming support for the legislation.  An article at democrats.senate.gov titled “Americans Overwhelmingly Support The American Rescue Plan Because Families Still Need Relief From The COVID Pandemic – But Republicans Say They Just Don’t Know What’s Good For Them” included the following statements:

“In the poll, which was conducted Feb. 19-22 among 2,013 registered voters and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points, 76 percent said they back the stimulus package, including 52 percent who said they ‘strongly’ support the bill. Only 17 percent of voters said they oppose it.” [Morning Consult, 2/24/21]

“Small Business for America’s Future:  “69% of small business owners — including 46% of Republican business owners and 61% of independent small business owners — support the American Rescue Plan.” [Small Business for America’s Future, 2/23/21]

The following is from an article by Samantha Chang, titled “Biden Voter: The Bombs in Syria Are Kinda Expensive for a Dude Who Owes Me $2,000”. Ben Calvert, age 27, who is referred to in the article, is a Democrat and lives in Minnesota:

“A lot of my friends are really frustrated because they were like, ‘We’ve got to elect these two senators in Georgia! We’ve got to get Joe Biden in office and then everything’s going to be better!’” Calvert told CNN last week. “It’s not a $1,400 check, it’s $2,000 checks.’”

Many Americans interpreted Biden’s promise to mean they would receive a separate $2,000 check — not $1,400 plus $600.

The focus on self that is reflected in Calvert’s statement is rampant across America. One only has to look at comments from some individuals as to why they vote as they do to see the success of the focus-on-self political strategy. Concern for one’s personal circumstance is reasonable, but it now seems at dangerous levels in our society.

Then there was this revealing post on Nextdoor, a neighborhood social media site: “How many Republicans are giving the stimulus check back?” It is reasonable to conclude that this statement was driven by the fact that no Republicans in the House or Senate voted for the legislation and public support for it was far less among Republicans than among Democrats. I contend that statements, such as referenced here, point to a lack of thoughtful examination of facts and to the harmful partisan divide that is so present in America.

These three accounts, although limited, reflect the condition of our country. That condition is one of: individuals making decisions based on tremendously insufficient and faulty thought; allowing short-term personal impacts to blind their ability to see and consider the bigger picture; simply following the dictates of a group with which they identify. This condition leads many Americans to wholeheartedly support policies, legislation, and even societal standards, that are unfair, often defy reason, are sometimes unconstitutional, and jeopardize the very continued existence of America.

Passage of the American Rescue Plan is proof-positive of the argument made to this point. In an article titled “American Rescue Plan (Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package)”, Erik Haagensen writes: “The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package designed to facilitate the United States’ recovery from the devastating economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”   

Given the reason for this legislation, the thoughtful approach would be to ask if it is needed and, if so, how will the need be best addressed? A starting point for addressing this question might be unemployment. The February 2020 unemployment rate was 3.5%, March 2020 14.7%, and February 2021 6.2%. Even though unemployment is down dramatically from the March 2020 devastating high, there are clearly Americans who still need assistance.

It does not appear that Democrats in Congress gave sufficient attention to who really needed assistance. The U.S. Treasury Department’s website states this regarding disbursements under the legislation: “In total, this first batch included approximately 90 million payments, which are valued at more than $242 billion.” This was just the first batch of payments. Simply considering the unemployment rates, even in March 2020, there is no way 90 million payments would be required. Payments were definitely authorized for many people who had not missed a paycheck and faced no financial hardship. 

Depending on whose reporting is considered, there is a half-trillion to a full trillion dollars remaining unspent from previous COVID relief bills. There are various explanations as to why this is the case. However, one would think this situation would have been made known to, and explained to, the American people before committing to another $1.9 trillion.

The listing of questionable funding items in this legislation seems almost endless. Among these are payments in an amount up to 120 percent of the outstanding indebtedness of each farmer or rancher to the Department of Agriculture, or guaranteed by the department, and is a member of a socially disadvantaged group as of January 1, 2021. From 7 U.S.C. 2279(a)(6): “The term ‘socially disadvantaged group’ means a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.” How is this related to COVID?

Then there is millions in funding to Gallaudet University, Howard University, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and Institute of Education Sciences. Why these specific institutions? There is $50 million for family planning. Addressing what comes under this heading, 42 U.S.C 300 says in part, “…effective family planning methods and services (including natural family planning methods, infertility services, and services for adolescents).” Consider one billion available until September 30, 2025, to carry out the purposes of the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). Regarding TMF, the General Services Administration (GSA) website says, “…gives agencies additional ways to deliver services to the American public more quickly, better secure sensitive systems and data, and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently.” COVID related?

Finally, $350 billion is allocated to states, the District of Columbia, local governments, territories, and tribal governments to mitigate the fiscal effects stemming from the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus disease. Most of this total will be distributed to states and the District of Columbia based on each state’s proportion of seasonally-adjusted unemployed individuals for the three-month period ending in December 2020. In assessing this provision, one has to consider that, as stated above, unemployment rates were much improved from the height of the pandemic. Further, state revenues did not experience the expected decline. This from an article by Mary Williams Walsh, titled “Virus Did Not Bring Financial Rout That Many States Feared”:

A researcher at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank, found that total state revenues from April through December were down just 1.8 percent from the same period in 2019. Moody’s Analytics used a different method and found that 31 states now had enough cash to fully absorb the economic stress of the pandemic recession on their own.

This allocation of funds to states certainly appears extremely questionable at best. Congressional Republicans raised thoughtful opposition, but were lambasted and dismissed by Congressional Democrats and a majority of American citizens.

The fact of life is that, to the detriment of this country, far too many Americans are being manipulated into supporting policies, legislation, and societal standards that are moving America along a dangerous path. Public support for, and passage of, the American Rescue Plan is just one of many glaring indications of this truth.

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