In a recent opinion column, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI-07) again tells half-truths to try to convince his constituents that anything that President Joe Biden does is disastrous. A bit of fact checking reveals his errors and omissions.
His spin on Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan, is narrow and extremely misleading. Consider his claim that “less than 10% [is spent] on public health measures to defeat the virus.” That is all he says about COVID-19 relief. True, only $265 billion, about 8.5%, was for things like COVID-19 testing, protective gear, treatments, vaccines, and distribution. Although the impact on public health was devastating, he never mentions the damaging economic impact of the disease. Part of COVID-19 relief is economic relief.
Remember your $1,400 stimulus payment? Those payments cost $420 billion or 22% of the bill’s total spending. Then, $350 billion went to state and local governments to cover added costs for first responders, vaccine distribution, and other expenses. Among other distributions, $166 billion went to help reopen schools safely.
Then there was the $163 billion of unemployment insurance to help workers who lost their jobs because of COVID-19. Let’s not forget the businesses themselves with small business grants ($15 billion), additional restaurant grants ($25 billion), the Paycheck Protection Program aid ($7 billion), and additional aid to theaters and cultural institutions ($1 billion). The 12 million Americans who owe an average of $5,800 in back rent and utilities were helped by $5 billion in housing aid. Finally, there was $12 billion in food aid through SNAP and WIC.
Mr. Walberg never mentioned these expenditures because he tries to paint Biden and Democrats as failures. The above numbers show that most of the package was devoted to COVID-19 economic relief, something he and other Republicans should applaud. He likely never even bothered to read the bill so he just spreads lies about it without fairly discussing the entire bill.
He then goes on to attack the proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill with his narrow, antiquated ideas about infrastructure. He limits infrastructure to “rebuilding our roads, bridges, and highways.” The plan does allocate $115 billion to modernize highways, roads, and bridges. But there is much more to infrastructure. Today our country’s infrastructure includes public transit, rail, ports, waterways, and airports. The plan includes $85 billion to modernize existing transit; $80 billion toward repairing and modernizing Amtrak and connecting more cities; $25 billion to upgrade airports; and $17 billion to improve inland waterways, ports, and ferries. Guess what that means. It means JOBS! That’s why the official name is the American Jobs Plan. But Mr. Walberg doesn’t mention that. Instead, he falsely states that $1.8 trillion “will expand the size and scope of government mandates” without explaining what those mandates are and implying they are part of a “liberal wish list.”
Where is the rest of the infrastructure money going? Where it is needed:
- to bolster caregiving for aging and disabled Americans and improve the wages of home health workers, about 17% of whom live in poverty ($400 billion)
- to boost manufacturing ($300 billion)
- to build, renovate, and retrofit more than two million homes and housing units ($213 billion)
- to invest in research and development ($180 billion)
- to rebuild the country’s water systems ($111 billion)
- to upgrade and build schools ($112 billion)
- to expand high-speed broadband ($100 billion)
- to create workforce development programs ($100 billion)
- to modernize Veterans Affairs’ hospitals and other federal buildings ($28 billion)
To pay for the plan, Biden proposes closing tax loopholes and raising the corporate income tax rate from 21% to 28%, still far lower than it had been before the 2017 Republican tax cuts. Mr. Walberg implies, falsely, that “hardworking families” would feel the pain of increased taxes.
The moral of the story: Don’t believe everything Tim Walberg says. He rarely tells the whole truth.
Image from Brett Jordan via Unsplash.
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