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Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Jim Risch

Despite falling COVID-19 case counts;

Despite President Biden’s assurances of bipartisan cooperation;

Despite $1,000,000,000,000.00 ($1 Trillion) in unspent COVID-19 aid across the country from previous relief bills;

Democrats are on the precipice of passing a $1,900,000,000,000.00 ($1.9 Trillion) COVID-19 spending plan through Congress without a single Republican vote. The previous five relief bills were all passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Unlike the five bipartisan COVID-19 relief bills before it, this $1.9 Trillion spending plan is packed with funding for special interests and longtime liberal priorities. Early COVID-19 relief bills provided funds for testing and vaccine development, personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health care workers, and grants to keep small businesses afloat. In stark contrast, this package devotes hundreds of billions of dollars to items like expanding Obamacare and tens of millions to “climate justice.”

These are not efforts that will benefit people who need help related to the impact of COVID-19.

The bill also offers $350 Billion to state and local governments. That’s more than 87 times Idaho’s entire annual budget which will predominantly be awarded to states that rang up billions in unpaid debt long before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Under Democrats’ plan, poorly-run states will receive the biggest government payouts over well-managed states like Idaho which, despite a year of extraordinary challenges, ranks first in the country for economic momentum, financial solvency, and personal income growth.

Thanks to the leadership of Governor Little and the State Legislature, Idaho is in the strongest possible position to emerge from the pandemic in even better financial shape than we were in going into it. Remarkably, Idaho currently carries a budget surplus. The United States is $28 Trillion in debt and about to add nearly $2 trillion more to that total, a 7 percent increase in our national debt with a single bill. That’s spending with no revenue source to pay for it. It’s all borrowed money. That’s more than $84,000 in debt for every man, woman, and child in the country.

Idaho has a long history of fiscal responsibility and conservative governing, and when it comes to Idaho’s balanced budget approach, the proof is in the pudding. Last year, states across the country slashed their budgets by 20- to 40- percent. Meanwhile, Idaho’s efforts to cut red tape and limit government spending helped deliver the largest ever budget surplus on record.  

In Idaho, we have much to be proud of. We make our home in a place that is committed to small government and responsible spending. Idaho’s leaders are building a future rooted in these conservative principles where our children’s children can learn, grow, and prosper.

Idaho’s economic recovery has not been even, and some are still in great financial distress. However, there are still more than $1 trillion in unspent funds from the last bipartisan COVID relief bill that have yet to be tapped. Furthermore, Republicans proposed a smaller, more targeted relief bill without state and local government bailouts and much of the wasteful spending we see in the current bill. Republicans’ good faith effort was summarily dismissed by Democrat leaders from President Biden on down. 

There’s still time to turn things around in Washington, D.C., but the goalpost of fiscal responsibility gets further away every day. We must start digging out of the spending hole we’ve created for ourselves before it’s too late. This is not a Democrat problem or a Republican problem, it’s an American problem. It’s time for Washington, D.C. to take a page out of Idaho’s playbook and take responsibility for getting our nation’s fiscal house in order so we can give future generations the America they deserve.

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