Big-government contagion

The online edition of Kim Strassel’s weekly Wall Street Journal Potomac Watch column “Big-government contagion” is accompanied by a video that gives us the gist, but it omits lot of the painful details. Details such as these:

Democrats used the bill to tighten every fiber of the social safety net. Put aside the $260 billion for unemployment benefits, potentially necessary in light of record jobless claims. The bill throws $25 billion more at food stamps and child nutrition; $12 billion at housing; $3.5 billion to states for child care; $32 billion at education; $900 million at low-income heating assistance; $50 million at legal services for the poor and so on. This is a massive expansion of the welfare state, seemingly with no regard to the actual length of this crisis.

There’s also the money appropriators threw at government for no purpose other than the throwing. Every outpost gets dollars, most for nothing more than the general command “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” NASA gets $60 million. Has the virus infected the sun’s corona? The National Archives gets $8 million. Will it put the virus on display? Many departments get cash for research, regardless of their relevance to today’s medical crisis. Perhaps the Energy Department will use its additional $99 million in “science” to gauge how the virus responds in a nuclear reactor.

Then there’s the outright pork. The Forest Service gets $3 million for “forest and rangeland research,” $27 million for “capital improvement and maintenance,” and $7 million for wildfire management. The bill shovels $75 million to the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities, $25 million to the Kennedy Center, an odd $78,000 “payment” to the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development. A water project in central Utah gets $500,000. Appropriators can sneak a lot into 880 pages.

Here is the video that accompanies Kim’s column.

Kim’s video was followed by a walk down memory lane with “Bob Newhart’s education about unemployment benefits” (below). But for Ammo Grrrll’s columns, I haven’t laughed this hard since the beginning of self-isolation a year or two ago (as it seems).

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