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More Debt Not Answer to COVID-19 Problems

The clock is ticking for Senate Republicans and Democrats to come to an agreement on the next COVID-19 assistance package before Congress adjourns for the August recess.

The House version passed in May, the Heroes Act, comes with a whopping $3 trillion price tag. That would be in addition to the nearly $3.6 trillion already spent on the several bills signed into law since March.

We hope our own West Virginia senators are wise enough to reject any solution that doubles down on reckless spending. In the four months since COVID put a strain on our economy, unprecedented numbers of West Virginians have filed for unemployment, several thousand local businesses have had to apply for federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, and families have found it harder to make ends meet.

But passing another bad spending bill, however well-intentioned, will make our economic problems worse.

To provide the relief that was required at the beginning of the health crisis, significant spending was necessary. But decades of fiscal irresponsibility and unchecked spending had already set our country on an unsustainable path that made us vulnerable to the financial crisis we face today.

As we look toward reopening, the last thing lawmakers should do is threaten recovery by bailing out states, many of which were experiencing financial problems long before COVID-19.

Instead of perpetuating the cycle of fiscal irresponsibility, lawmakers should work together to create solutions that focus on real people and foster innovation in the marketplace.

Senator Joe Manchin has talked a good game on spending, although the results have been mixed at best.

“With our national debt exceeding $19 trillion, we need to start making smart reforms to reduce the deficit and achieve fiscal sustainability over the long term,” he said four years and several trillion dollars in debt ago.

The senator was correct. Adding yet another $3 trillion to the deficit now would only push us further away from long-term prosperity, while failing to provide assistance to those who need it most.

As Sen. Manchin has often pointed out, rising federal debt has real consequences for West Virginians. Surely, he must understand the burden of adding trillions more.

No one was immune to the economic impacts of COVID-19 and there is certainly a need to help those who have been harmed the most.

But handing out more money will not reach this goal. On the contrary, it will pass the buck and shackle future generations to irresponsible debt.

To get our economy going again, we need to create an economic climate that fosters innovation and allows every person to create value and improve their lives. This starts with state and federal lawmakers focusing on creating the conditions for a new, stronger West Virginia economy in which every Mountaineer has an unprecedented ability to reach their full potential.

By safely reopening the economy and getting goods and services moving again, jumpstarting private investment in the economy by eliminating burdensome regulations, and removing unnecessary barriers to work such as onerous occupational licensing restrictions, we can bounce back from this crisis and prepare for future crises as well.

We encourage Sen. Manchin to say no to any deal that pushes us further away from that goal.

Jason Huffman is state director of Americans for Prosperity-West Virginia.

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