Eyes Wide Open: “The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act”

Alright, we all know that the government has just passed the largest “stimulus” bill ever written. And my guess is that no one reading this article is genuinely upset that we may be getting upwards of $1,200 or $2,400 from the government in the next few weeks?

Be honest now.

Even the most staunchly conservative ones of us are not going to turn away money, especially in a time like this. And if you notice, the Senate passed the bill, 96-0, exhibiting a bipartisan compromise which, for the past few years, has been unheard of. This means that, even our most staunchly conservative senators voted for this bill.

So, if we’re going to do this, let’s go in eyes wide open.

In this article, I hope to shed a little light on what this bill does, analyze it briefly through the lens of the Constitution and touch on the significance of such bipartisan effort.

One: What Is The “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act)?

Let’s put this new law in perspective for a moment. Remember, Congress makes law. Making law is Congress’ primary job. An “act” is another name for a “law”. So, Congress is passing a new law to stimulate or aid the country during this time of perceived crisis. It is a law. We can’t forget that. In a time of crisis, the people beg for more government and government is more than happy to meet the call. The more laws they pass, the more powerful they become. This law is only the latest way the government, Congress, is swallowing up more power during a time of crisis.

Here’s a link to the 880 pages of this law.

Here’s a brief bullet point analysis of what the law does (sources: USA Today and Politico):

Help to individuals:

  • The bill provides direct payments of up to $1,200 for most individuals and $2,400 for most married couples filing jointly with an extra $500 for each child. From what I’ve read, these payments (if you have direct deposit) will be coming through within three weeks of the bill’s complete approval. 

  • Assistance is based upon an individual’s earning. If one makes more than $75,000 as an individual, or, for couples, $150,000 in income, assistance is either not given or decreased. 

  • It extends unemployment insurance benefits for up to four months

Help to small businesses:

  • The bill would give small businesses access to a nearly $350 billion loan program to cover monthly expenses like payroll, rent and utilities. The loans would not have to be repaid if businesses maintained their workforce. I’m still not sure I understand the “repayment” part of this and I’m not going to read all 880 pages to find out.

  • The eight weeks of assistance would be retroactive to Feb. 15, 2020 to help bring back workers who have already been laid off. Interesting.

  • Pay attention: government money = government regulation of economy

Help for mortgage and student loans:

  • Student loan payments are extended and federally backed mortgages are suspended or protected from foreclosure for 180 days.

Help for corporations (who are lobbying hard for money and using this crisis to their advantage):

  • This amendment helps industries such as passenger and cargo airlines who are the hardest hit by the impact of the virus. More money would be available to help other businesses for a combined $500 billion.

    • Companies receiving assistance would be barred from raising the pay of certain executives.

    • Any company receiving a government loan would be prohibited from buying back stocks while getting assistance as well for an additional year.

    • Businesses controlled by the president, vice president, members of Congress and heads of federal agencies are not eligible for loans.

    • “A provision for the FDA to approve ‘innovative’ sunscreens—which would benefit L’Oreal, which has operations in Kentucky—appeared in the bill” — ok, what?.

    • Casinos are benefiting from this crisis by becoming eligible for government assistance. They can apply for portions of the $350 billion in Small Business Administration loans if they’re a small business and need less than $10 million. Larger casinos can apply for $454 billion in loans backed by Treasury.

    • Pay attention again: government money = government regulation of economy

Help to the Medical Industry (Representative Ilhan Omar has called to make all private hospitals public for the time being…but this bill does not quite do that. Thankfully.):

  • Hospitals and medical centers are set to receive billions of dollars to handle “surging” caseloads.

  • Hospitals treating coronavirus patients should also get higher reimbursements from Medicare.

  • Extra funding for the Defense Department includes money to deploy the National Guard and use the Defense Production Act to help fast-track production of needed medical supplies to combat the coronavirus.

Help to state and local government (remember, it’s really up to the state and local governments to handle this crisis):

  • The package includes $150 billion to help state and local governments, which have had major unanticipated expenses while losing revenue. States are supposed to get a minimum amount while the rest of the funds would be allocated through a population-based formula.

  • Public transit agencies, which have lost ridership, would get $25 billion in assistance. Airports and Amtrak would also get billions of dollars of assistance.

    • “The airlines used their clout to get tens of billions of dollars in grants and loans included in the bill, but carriers aren’t the only ones who will benefit.” -Politico

  • Schools and colleges can access nearly $31 billion to continue to teach students as schools are closed.

Money to the Arts (…and this is needed why?):

  • Museums, libraries and arts organizations across the country, which have been closing because of the pandemic, will get a boost in grants to state arts and humanities organizations.

  • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which has been closed until May, is set to get $25 million so it can reopen its doors once the crisis is over. 

  • The Smithsonian Institution will get $7.5 million to help with teleworking, deep cleaning and overtime for security, medical staff, and zoo keepers. 

Two: These Provisions are Nowhere in the Constitution as Part of Congress’ Job

So, crisis does a couple of things. It does minimize polarization and partisanship. It forces democrats and republicans, who have become more ideologically distanced from each other, to work together to defeat a common enemy.

This is a good and bad thing. Good, because, presumably we expect our government to fix our problems quickly and working together achieves that goal. Bad, because both sides will slip in their little pet projects and dig the federal government’s bureaucratic talons more deeply into the private sector—-and they won’t fight each other to stop this from happening.

Here’s what’s so difficult about this. I can sit here and write that this bill is unconstitutional until my fingers bleed, but right now, that’s a pointless argument. NO ONE CARES.

A good crisis always makes the Constitution IRRELEVANT.



I can promise you that none of those legislators were considering what their Constitutional limits were when writing this new piece of legislation.


Because we are not thinking of the Constitution, nor measuring their success against it. We only feel the strain of the economy and the potential virus impact. We’re looking at things in the short term. What do we need now to survive? And that’s all that matters right now to most Americans.

Think about the provisions listed above? Based on what you’ve learned about the Constitution and the reason for government, can you find a single provision that fits within the Constitution’s confines?

I can’t.

We create government to protect us and our private property from each other. That’s it. And yet, we’re perfectly content asking the federal (not state) government to step in and provide insurance, pay, financial support to almost every industry, dictate how companies use the money and what they can or cannot do with the money, and…go read the provisions again.

I’m just curious. Since when did it become normal for Americans to expect the federal government to fix all of our problems? Why do we automatically assume that it’s the federal government’s job to make sure we’re paid? (And this is not just average Americans that do this. New Orlean’s mayor is blaming Trump for not taking the virus seriously enough. In other words, she’s saying it’s the federal government’s fault that she did not shut down Mardi Gras. Excuse me?)

This bill is the result of “panic”. That is truly what it is.

And can we blame our legislators for passing it? We’d punish them severely if they didn’t meet our every need and concern right now. So, really, we’re the ones to blame more than anyone else. If we told the federal government to mind its own business and instead demanded more of our state and local governments, of our private communities, of our businesses, of our churches, and of our charities—the federal government wouldn’t respond this way. So, let’s own it and go in with eyes wide open.

This is the personal struggle that I have. I know that, in the future, we’ll look back at this bill and scratch our heads about it, realizing what an overreach of government power it was; but for now, with the Constitution effectively put on hold, it seems like it’s fruitless to criticize or bemoan it.

It’s the tyranny of the urgent.

Where are we going to get 2 trillon dollars from? Really? Remember, the government gets paid from us.

I don’t know the answer to all of this, but I do know that there is no such thing as free money. We need to get out of the mindset that every time there is a catastrophe the federal government should fix it. But for now, since it is the mindset, let’s be educated about what we’re getting into and the Constitutionality of it.


Congress passed a substantial bill. One we’ll likely be paying for——for years to come. And yet, we wanted it, we demanded it. Why?

Because people are scared.

And now, when we need help, we turn to the the federal government.

So, take a look at the provisions in this bill. Don’t be ignorant of what all it does. Sure, enjoy that stimulus money, but do so with the understanding that it’s not free. And always remember that, any legislative vote for “saving” the country in the short term was a vote against “saving”the country in the long term. Something Americans should never forget.

Keep yours eyes wide open friends, keep them wide open.

The Liberty Belle

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