White House press secretary Jen Psaki tried to spin the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan on Fox News, but struggled to explain why a third of the bill will be spent over the next 10 years.
During an interview on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Psaki why so much of the COVID relief bill isn’t going toward any actual immediate economic relief.
“The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that more than one-third of the total bill, $700 billion, would not be spent this year. It would be spent between 2022 and 2031,” Wallace said. “So how does that qualify as COVID relief?”
Without directly answering the question, Psaki said the bill is meant to get direct cash payments to Americans and COVID vaccines distributed.
“People also have to plan. Schools have to plan to reopen, they need to do budgetary planning over the course of years, businesses need to do that as well,” Psaki explained. “So this package is, of course, meant to provide immediate direct relief but also provide a bridge to help us get through this crisis.”
The Fox News host noted that 95% of the $170 billion portion of the bill going toward schools will be spent between 2022 and 2028, hardly considered COVID relief.
“Again, what does that have to do with emergency COVID relief and getting kids back into school this year?” Wallace asked.
Psaki said that a ten-year “budgetary plan” for schools was necessary, such as changes to “facilities” and “hiring additional teachers and bus drivers.”
“90 percent of this bill goes to address the twin crises we’re facing right now, Chris, which is getting the pandemic under control and helping the American people go back to work, helping them get the relief they need to get through this period of time,” she said.
“Schools are like businesses, Chris. They need a budgetary plan over a period of time. Some have to frontload changes, whether it’s to their facilities, or ensuring that if they have to hire additional teachers or bus drivers–”
“But we’re talking about a decade,” Wallace interrupted.
“Well, they have to plan over a period of time,” Psaki retorted. “I’m sure I don’t want my kids going to school where they have to fire teachers next year or do the facility upgrades, I should say, necessary in order to ensure they’re going to school safely.”
So Psaki is worried about teachers getting “fired” over the next year, but isn’t concerned that most American students haven’t had any face time with teachers over the last year. Makes perfect sense.
The Democrat-controlled House passed the massive bill, dubbed the “American Rescue Plan”, Saturday morning along mostly party lines.
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