In a move that’s likely not to work in locked-down blue states that were banking of bailouts from the rest of America, Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott nonetheless is calling on states to reject or repay any “Biden bucks” that actually don’t pay for COVID-19 relief.
Reflecting on the recently enacted $1.9 trillion “relief” package, only 9 percent of which is devoted to actual COVID needs, Scott noted that since the coronavirus outbreak there has been “great collaboration at every level of government.
As Florida’s former governor, Scott wrote, he could appreciate “the arduous decision-making and budgeting process” that state and local leaders have undergone in the past year. Thus, that explains his advocacy for the federal government to provide “needed funding” in support of small businesses, the unemployed, and life-saving vaccines.
Accordingly, Scott said, “Prior to the recent partisan passage of President (Joe) Biden’s massive, wasteful and non-targeted $1.9 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan Act,’ Congress passed five bipartisan COVID-19 relief packages dedicating almost $4.5 trillion in federal spending, including nearly $400 billion in taxpayer funding to state and local governments.”
Now, thanks to congressional Democrats, state and local governments are going to receive another $360 billion from taxpayers that are “wholly unrelated to responding to the pandemic.’
“Democrats rushed this spending through Congress without a single Republican vote and against growing evidence that local and state tax revenue did not suffer the massive downturn predicted when lockdowns began,” Scott argued.
“In fact, many state and local governments have seen revenue increases over the past year, like California, which is adding more than $22 billion to its reserves.”
Thus, Scott said he was making a “simple and common sense request”:
“Each state and local government should commit to reject and return any federal funding in excess of your reimbursable COVID-19 related expenses.”
“This commitment,” Scott added, “will serve the best interests of hard-working American taxpayers and will send a clear message to Washington: politicians in Congress should quit recklessly spending other people’s money.”
Florida’s junior senator admitted in the letter that the coronavirus is a public health emergency.
“Just as it does for other major disasters, the federal government has an important role to play in helping state and municipal governments offset the costs of COVID-19 response,” Scott said. “However, American taxpayer dollars should not be used as bonus cash to plug budget holes caused by decades of poor fiscal management. This is not a taxpayer-funded bailout; it is a reimbursement for specific, COVID-related expenses.”
Mayors and governors, he said, ought to understand the importance of “living within your means and budgeting responsibly so that you are delivering the best possible service to your communities, ensuring maximum return on any government spending and eliminating debt wherever possible.”
“By rejecting and returning any unneeded funds, as well as funds unrelated to COVID-19, you would be taking responsible action to avoid wasting scarce tax dollars. After all, every dollar in this package is borrowed.
Scott pledged to continue to do all that he could to support federal efforts that would pay for “the things that are most important to defeating this virus, including protecting families and small businesses.” Yet, he concluded in the letter, we must “have a sustainable and responsible path forward.”
In a separate statement, Scott accused Democrats of “using trillions of American taxpayer dollars, under the guise of COVID relief, to fund their liberal priorities and pay back their blue state Governor pals. They really should be ashamed of this political theater.”
“Our nation is $28 trillion in debt. With the passage of this bill, Senate Democrats have increased the debt to $30 trillion, knowing that they and President Biden have no plan to address it or its devastating consequences for American families,” Scott said.
“At this rate and the direction Democrats are taking us, there is no way our nation will ever be able to pay off this unsustainable debt without significant change. It’s time to get serious about what this means for our nation moving forward. I will never stop fighting to ensure accountability to American taxpayers and get Washington’s insane spending under control.”