A $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill supported by President Joe Biden, which provides some $350 billion in funds to Democrat-run states, critics say smacks of political patronage.
As he opened a segment during his Saturday Fox News show, host Steve Hilton began by explaining that the “emergency aid” was requested by states to compensate for losses in revenue due to coronavirus lockdowns which were imposed by nearly every state as the pandemic began last spring.
“That does sound plausible, but is it true?” Hilton asked on “The Next Revolution.”
He went on to discuss finances involving his home state of California, noting that tax revenues for the state’s general fund in 2020 were 30 percent “above forecast with the tax revenues through November 2020 actually higher” than in 2019 “when there was no pandemic and no lockdowns.”
(Source: Fox News)
“So why do we need to shovel more money their way from U.S. taxpayers?” Hilton went on.
The host suggested that the money wasn’t going to help ordinary Californians whose livelihoods were disrupted or upended by coronavirus lockdowns, but rather to “bail out the government unions that have a political stranglehold on the Democrats who control California.”
Hilton then cited reports claiming that California’s government spends lavishly on “luxury health insurance subsidies” per retired state worker and each of their dependents, about $9,000 and $8,000 annually, respectively.
“That is on top of what they already get through the state’s version of Medicare,” he said, adding that amounts to about $5 billion annually without even taking in costs for current, active state workers.
Hilton then noted that pensions for retired government workers are also astronomical, citing a 2018 report that said a former Los Angeles assistant fire chief made an after-tax pension income of $1.4 million the previous year.
The host explained that some 340,000 current California state employees earn more than $100,000 a year for a total cost to taxpayers of about $45 billion.
“That’s what the $350 billion blue state bailout in Biden’s relief bill is all about – relief. It’s a pay-off. A pay-off to the government unions that fund and control the Democrats,” Hilton continued. “Let’s call it what it is: Legalized bribery, legalized corruption.”
GOP lawmakers have also criticized the new relief package as a blue-state bailout for other states like Illinois, New Jersey, and New York that were already facing massive budget deficits prior to the pandemic, due in large part to extremely generous pension plans for state workers.
“They have to fill” their budget deficits, Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) told Fox Business Network last month. “States have to balance their budget, the federal government doesn’t. So AOC and now Joe Biden are going to the big piggy bank in the sky that prints nonstop money.”
Last summer, as lockdowns persisted in many states including most run by Democratic governors, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said bailout funds for states with historic budget deficits should be taken off the table in large part because three-quarters of relief money earmarked for states had yet to be spent.
“This hang-up over sending over $1 trillion down to the state and local government — we’ve already sent them $150 billion and they’ve only spent 25% of what we sent them before in the [CARES Act],” he said in August.
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