Any Domestic Supplemental Should Be Paid For

The White House submitted a supplemental appropriations request for domestic needs yesterday totaling $56 billion. The request includes funding for disaster relief and rebuilding, child care, internet connectivity, energy, substance abuse treatment, international food assistance, and wildland firefighter pay, among other priorities.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

With interest rates rising and just ending a fiscal year with a deficit that essentially doubled from $1 trillion to $2 trillion – a record level outside of a war or pandemic – now is certainly not the time to borrow more. That is particularly true for policies that don’t pass the smell test of being a true emergency. 

Apart from the disaster relief funding, which already received $16 billion in the September continuing resolution – $4 billion more than the White House’s August request – it’s not clear any of these items are emergencies that couldn’t be handled as part of the normal appropriations process. For example, $16 billion for “child care stabilization” that has been known about for two and a half years and $6 billion for broadband funding entirely unrelated to a public health emergency both seem to be priorities that do not belong in an emergency funding bill.  

As we noted when the White House submitted its national security request, there are certainly times when urgent, temporary, necessary, sudden, and unforeseen circumstances can make borrowing appropriate – though when the debt is this high, even that would ideally be offset over time.  However, this package isn’t one of those times. If these important priorities are worth doing, they are certainly worth paying for.  

When your deficit situation is a mess, it makes sense not to add more to the national debt, even for real emergencies, and most certainly for fake ones.


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