Jason Chaffetz: Democrats' crisis relief a pretext to throw trillions at this 'disaster liberalism' agenda

The rest of the money is being used to grow government and to subsidize well-heeled Democratic constituencies. Ditto for the last COVID relief bill, of which roughly 10% funded COVID relief. Already the Biden administration is talking about another $ 1 trillion “infrastructure” bill this fall.

The last time Democrats held majorities in Congress, we saw the same thing. The Obama-era stimulus, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) intended to fund “shovel ready” projects yielded far less than 10% for the projects used to sell the bill.


This is disaster liberalism: leveraging a crisis to transfer huge sums of money out of the productive economy and into government coffers.  

In my new book, “Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste: the Truth About Disaster Liberalism,” I unmask the deceptive tactics used to subvert the democratic process. Using the threat of an impending crisis, Democrats justify enacting expensive, unpopular and unconstitutional policies disguised as crisis relief. 


The latest crisis is infrastructure, but the crisis relief is the Green New Deal in disguise. Infrastructure is the spoonful of sugar to make profligate spending go down. And once we swallow the spending, we are expected to ingest the economy-killing tax hikes that will follow. 

The results of Obama’s 2009 ARRA are instructive. After a catastrophic bridge collapse in Minnesota, this $ 787 billion behemoth was marketed as infrastructure spending for “shovel-ready” projects. Though just a fraction of the money was spent on infrastructure, that fraction was still a whopping $ 48 billion.

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But it turned out growing government didn’t actually grow the economy. Government and market data analyzing the impact of the 2009 stimulus found it didn’t create many new jobs or result in long-term economic returns. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate climbed.  

Notably, Obama’s stimulus didn’t actually increase infrastructure spending by much. In 2008, the year before the stimulus, $ 81.4 billion was spent on road and bridge construction work. After the $ 48 billion federal infusion, that number increased by just $ 800 million to $ 82.2 billion.  

Why? According to T. Peter Ruane, of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, instead of increasing infrastructure spending, states used the federal money to substitute for state dollars on infrastructure projects, using the savings to shore up their own budgets.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made sure the same will be true of the latest round of COVID relief.  

Disasters come in so handy. They provide a vehicle to move legislation that could not otherwise gain popular support.

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