Here we are again. The federal government is working on yet another coronavirus stimulus package intended to provide relief to Americans who are struggling from the effects of the coronavirus lockdowns.
I’ve gone over these bills before, so I’m not going to harp extensively on the Constitutionality of this bill but rather, look at some of the economic and cultural ramifications of such a bill.
What Does The Bill Do?
An article on CNBC says: “The resolution instructs committees to draft a bevy of coronavirus aid measures included in Biden’s proposal, such as $1,400 direct payments, a $400 per week federal unemployment boost through September, $350 billion in state, local and tribal relief, funds for Covid-19 vaccines and testing and rent and mortgage assistance. The instructions do not include a $15 per hour minimum wage, a Democratic priority that may not fit within restrictions governing reconciliation bills.” Send a smaller $1,000 direct payment, which starts to phase out at a lower $40,000 income threshold for individuals
This is not the final bill as Republicans want a slightly different version: ” 1) Extend $300 per week federal unemployment benefits through June 30. 2) Put $20 billion into a national vaccine program 3) Inject $20 billion into K-12 schools 4) Not include any state and local government support, a priority for Democrats.”
The $15 minimum wage seems to be a wildcard move and I’m not quite sure where it fits.
However, I will start out with a brief overview of the bill’s constitutionality and then proceed to look at few other aspects.
Is It Constitutional?
The question every American should ask about every action of government is this: is it Constitutional? It’s our job, as citizens, to make sure the government is abiding by their job description. It’s really THAT simple. If they don’t, they we fire them and hire new representation. They need to realize that their job’s are always on the line.
Of course, this is never how American’s treat government or the Constitution, but for the sake of this article, I’ll pretend like it is.
So, is this new coronavirus relief bill constitutional?
Short answer: NO.
For those of you who have not been following my blog, I’d advise you to go read Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution OR simply go read this post on my blog detailing the topics about which Congress can make law. Congress is given a small set of topics about which they can make laws, outside of those topics (i.e. taxation; declaring war; coining money and the like) Congress can make no law. The rest of the topics are left exclusively to the states and the local governments.
Hence, providing emergency funding, increasing minimum wages, loan forgiveness and the like are never mentioned as the federal government’s job and are therefore NOT part of the federal government’s job. This means any law that the federal government passes taking any of those aforementioned actions is unconstitutional.
Some people can argue that it’s a state of emergency, that the court’s have interpreted the Constitution differently, that it’s Constitutional because the government is giving most of the money to the states, but in the end, these are all arguments that avoid that basic and fundamental reality that no matter what, these topics are not the list of powers laid out in Congress’s job description and are therefore arbitrary or–coming from nowhere.
Is It Economically Healthy?
Here’s the thing. There is real economic hardship happening (due to state government mandated shutdowns supported by federal money) and because of inflation, the current minimum wage if far from a livable wage. These are real problems that need real solutions.
Today, I’m not looking to provide the solutions as much as point out the flaws in the solutions the federal government is currently presenting.
So, aside from the fact that any coronavirus “relief” is fundamentally unconstitutional, what are some of the other issues at play?
We’re looking at a fundamental shift in the way Americans perceive government. This shift really started during the Great Depression and has only grown since. The primary shift being this: federal government should solve all economic inequality and issues rather than local communities, churches, and state/local government solve economic inequality and issues.
Americans are daily learning to look to the federal government as the ultimate source of all power and therefore all answers.
So, an economic crisis? The federal government should bail us out by sending us money (money they have because a certain percentage of us paid the federal government in the first place). The federal government should increase unemployment payments for those that are unemployed thereby killing all incentive for individuals who are already on unemployment (or going into unemployment) to get off unemployment.
Listen, there are people who need financial help but the federal government should not be the one doing the helping.
Let’s look at the consequences of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Logically, if this were to be passed (which, again, is unconstitutional), it should be implemented very slowly or the federal government runs the risk of completely destroying the economy.
I’m no economist, so I don’t presume to be an expert on how the economy works (I simply know that government’s influence in the economy should be severely limited based the confines of the Constitution) but something tells me that a sudden increase in the minimum wage would cause a sudden loss of many jobs. Small businesses who can’t afford such expenses would be forced to make major cuts while also increasing their overall prices. Such an increase in their prices would force other businesses to do the same and overall the entire economy would simply shift up. This means that people who were making $15 an hour before the federally mandated increase will want to be paid more than the minimum wage, causing major strain on the economy as a whole.
Again, as a political scientist, this is what I know: I know that nothing forced by the federal government in an unconstitutional way is going to be healthy for our country.
State and local governments can assess their local communities, inflation and the like and figure out ways to account for the income disparities in each unique city or state, but the federal government doling out money in large swaths, in conjunction with a sudden hike in the federal minimums wage, is incredibly dangerous.
I said that the coronavirus stimulus relief bills under Trump were unconstitutional just as this one is unconstitutional.
This is not a democrat problem or a republican problem.
This is a constitutional problem.
The Liberty Belle