The Next Stimulus Bill Must Be Temporary and Targeted | Citizens Against Government Waste

The Next Stimulus Bill Must Be Temporary and Targeted

The WasteWatcher

As Congress decides on what to include in the next COVID-19 response bill, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released preliminary estimates for the most recent stimulus package, the CARES Act.

The largest single economic stimulus in U.S. history, the CARES Act is estimated to cost roughly $1.76 trillion according to CBO.  The original projection had the CARES Act total around $2.2 trillion, but CBO removed loan guarantees from their projection, since these programs would have no “net effect” on the preliminary estimate.  

While the projection is less than originally calculated, CBO paints a very grim picture on how much this mammoth infusion of financial aid could actually cost.  Because of how widespread the new coronavirus is and the many unknowns associated with it, including how much a future vaccine will cost, it is extremely difficult to predict how far the stimulus funding may be stretched.  As explained in the report, “actual costs could vary significantly from CBO’s preliminary estimates” depending on how well the aid is implemented and the overall extent of the COVID-19’s effect on the economy.

The stimulus bill’s cost uncertainty only adds to an already grave fiscal outlook.  The national debt stands at more than $24 trillion, more than the U.S. economy itself, and February CBO projections expected the deficit to reach $1 trillion for this year, with total deficits reaching $13.1 trillion by 2030.

There is no doubt that this moment of great pain and hardship requires swift and substantial action to weather this storm, no matter how long it may last.  As conversations continue on how to best help Americans in the next round of funding, Congress must remember to keep a temporary mindset that is focused on the colossal enemy at our gates, not use this crisis to enact unrelated reforms.

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