ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis
It’s one thing to hope for some kind of emergency aid to help pay those pesky bills that just won’t go away no matter how little income has been coming in during most of this ongoing pandemic, but it’s something else for those who wish to offer aid to help us in that department to sneak in all kinds of other things to spend that emergency aid money on.
Therefore, the “American Rescue Plan of 2021” was created, just last month; it’s also referred to as the COVID-19 relief bill, and officially known as H.R. 1319, Report No. 117-7.
But out of curiosity — and because someone was kind enough to send it to me — I decided to give the 594-page monstrosity of a bill a quick perusal. (Considering that some bills, such as the way-over 5,000-page bill that was the last one to show up on Pres. Trump’s desk, this one is a “baby-sized” bill.)
So I started looking it over, and read about a few of the categories that were written into the bill to share the “COVID-19 relief funds.”
There was far too much for me to read in just the short time I had, and quite frankly, it started to not only get boring, but it was hard to believe how much other stuff they actually stuffed into that bill —including many millions for the various inspector generals who have to oversee the particular amounts that are being allotted to their particular causes.
I doubt if anyone would disagree with me when I say that bills of this nature need a whole lot of streamlining to get down to a manageable size, a size that those who need to read them for the purpose of approving them before they’re passed can actually do so.
I’m not opposed to using all the words that are necessary to say what needs to be said; however, I feel that there are far more words than are needed. But for now, forget the number of words, needed or not, and consider what those words are saying. How about the little pork sausages that call for $470 million (more than double what their budget was last year) for The Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment of the Arts and the Humanities. It’s always been my opinion that when times are tough, we think first of what we need, rather than what we want or would enjoy. Those kinds of “luxuries” can wait till we all have the freedom and money to indulge in those activities. If individuals or families have put off all such
luxuries while doing all they could just to put food on the table, keep their lights on, and pay the rent, they’re not about to think
first of entertainment while sitting in the dark, hungry, and wondering how much longer they’ll be able to stay in their home. Many have already lost that luxury.
Then there’s that “cute little pork sausage patty” for the Seaway International Bridge, which connects New York to Canada. Guess who probably wanted that little $1.5 million item stuck into the bill: might it have been Senate Leader Chuck Schumer who hails from New York?
And here’s a little item that might be of interest to some: a $128.5 billion amount to fund K-12 education. BUT…most of it will not be distributed this year. It will have to wait till 2022 and stretch itself out through 2028, when the pandemic has been long over, thanks to the CBO.
One does wonder who made all the suggestions for the bill. And who set the amounts for them. It’s so easy to see why there would be those against the bill as written, but we can at least be thankful that the raising of the minimum wage to $15 an hour didn’t stay in the bill.
Not that I’m suggesting the cost of “fast food” will go up once that raise goes into effect, or that there will be fewer employees to serve us, or that the wages of long-time employees will also have to be raised in order to keep them happy and appreciated, which may, in the end, cause many small businesses to go out of business…again. Or, after having managed to stay in business during the pandemic, to not be able to stay in business after that mandated minimum hourly wage goes up to $15.
Yes, this seems to be a whole different world we’re living in these days. Who would have guessed how things would be today just one short year ago. If anyone knew it was coming, I sure hope they got themselves prepared. But as we’ve learned over the years (and also earlier this year as well), even when we know some things are coming, little to nothing is done about it and the result is not a pretty picture.
So we’re heading into the new “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” and many, if not most, of us will be getting the balance of that $2,000 that President Trump wanted us to have (which will be $1,400) and that may well be all we’ll care about. We’ll appreciate any benefits we personally receive, but most of the money stuffed into that bill will probably never come to our attention and maybe that’s one of the reasons it’s so easy for all that pork to go unseen, unquestioned, and uncooked — meaning that raw pork is not good for us in many ways.
Sure, we’ll appreciate all that’s going toward COVID-related items that really help us all (even if it’s only about 9 percent of the
amount in that bill) and we sincerely hope that whatever the amount, that it will make the kind of difference that counts.
Either time will tell, or we might never know.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. Shewrites a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.