Up & Coming Weekly

April 20, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 5 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM APRIL 21-27, 2021 UCW 5 ese three accounts, although lim- ited, reflect the condition of our country. at condition is one of: individuals making decisions based on tremen- dously insufficient and faulty thought ; allowing short-term personal impacts to blind their ability to see and consider the bigger picture; simply following the dic- tates of a group with which they identify. is condition leads many Americans to wholeheartedly support policies, legisla- tion, and even societal standards, that are unfair, often defy reason, are some- times 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 "Ameri- can Rescue Plan (Biden's $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package)", Erik Haagensen writes: "e 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 ef- fects of the COVID-19 pandemic." Given the reason for this legislation, the thought- ful 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 unem- ployment. e February 2020 unemployment rate was 3.5%, March 2020 14.7%, and February 2021 6.2%. Even though unemployment is down dramat- ically 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 as- sistance. e U.S. Treasury Department's website states this regarding disbursements under the legislation: "In total, this first batch included ap- proximately 90 million payments, which are valued at more than $242 billion." is was just the first batch of payments. Simply considering the unem- ployment 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 re- maining unspent from previous COVID relief bills. ere 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. e 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 ranch- er 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): "e 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? en 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? ere 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 ser- vices (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 Ad- ministration (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 govern- ments, 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 propor- tion of seasonally-adjusted unemployed individuals for the three-month period end- ing in December 2020. In assessing this pro- vision, 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. is from an article by Mary Williams Walsh, titled "Virus Did Not Bring Financial Rout at 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 reces- sion on their own. is allocation of funds to states certainly ap- pears extremely questionable at best. Congressio- nal Republicans raised thoughtful opposition, but were lambasted and dismissed by Congressional Democrats and a majority of American citizens. e fact of life is that, to the detriment of this country, far too many Americans are being ma- nipulated 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 glar- ing indications of this truth. Democrat and Republican leaders alike have failed to inform the public on governmental processes, sensible reasons for their legislative and policy posi- tions, and the basics of economics. More often than not, leaders are pitting supportive groups against others and catering to certain groups just enough to gain or keep their support. KARL MERRITT, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomigweek- ly.com. 910-484-6200.

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