Coalition of 18 Free-Market Groups Urges Congressional Leadership to Keep Unnecessary Spending out of “Phase 4” COVID-19 Package

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

May 12, 2020

May 12, 2020

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, House Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader McCarthy:

On behalf of millions of taxpayers and consumers across the country, the undersigned 18 organizations urge you not to include unnecessary spending and regulatory measures in the event of another round of Coronavirus relief. Members of Congress and the Trump administration are closely collaborating on the forthcoming legislative package known as “Phase 4,” and lawmakers are already considering measures completely unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) has advocated for a multi-billion-dollar taxpayer bailout of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and open-ended spending on broadband infrastructure. Other lawmakers are pushing for the inclusion of healthcare price controls as a misguided “solution” to surprise medical billing, despite overwhelming evidence that this will cause significant harm to frontline health professionals. Similarly, the pandemic should not be an excuse for federal bailouts of state and local governments’ unfunded pension and transportation liabilities, which stem from bad policy decisions preceding the pandemic by years. Congress must reject these unneeded tangential measures and focus on providing targeted relief to struggling households and businesses.

Members of Congress previously stood firm in rejecting Speaker Pelosi’s misguided “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act,” which included far-flung provisions on “corporate board diversity”, same day voter registration, and an attempt to forgive $10,000 in student loan debt per borrower. Instead, lawmakers passed (and the President signed) the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which focused on providing relief to businesses, households, states, and localities instead of the pet projects pursued by other officials. But now, Congressional leadership is purportedly considering unneeded, unnecessary fiscal and regulatory measures as part of “Phase 4” of relief.

These considerations include up to $89 billion in taxpayer dollars for the USPS, which was already deeply in debt prior to the pandemic. This bloated request is far larger than the estimated $13 billion in lost USPS revenues due to COVID-19. Lawmakers fail to explain why it is necessary to grant the USPS $76 billion more than it says it needs due to Coronavirus-related difficulties.

At a time when frontline workers are risking their lives to help patients in harm’s way, it is unclear why some lawmakers are intent on including healthcare price controls in Coronavirus-related legislation.  Instituting rate-setting as a way to curb surprise medical billing would result in significant and instant pay cuts to doctors and hospitals across the country, forcing providers to cut back hours at the worst possible time.

Finally, some lawmakers are purportedly considering including broadband infrastructure subsidies in “Phase 4” of Coronavirus relief. This would result in significant losses to taxpayers, given previous failures in properly targeting broadband funding. The Federal Communications Commission is making significant strides in keeping Americans connected during this pandemic, and poorly targeted broadband funding would only hamper these commendable efforts.

Congress must not allow unrelated spending items into Coronavirus-related relief legislation. Every dollar spent on unneeded Postal bailouts, government broadband networks, or similar unrelated projects is a dollar withheld from struggling families, patients, and businesses. Furthermore, healthcare price controls will only hurt efforts to treat patients on the frontlines of this crisis.

In the event of another Coronavirus relief bill, we urge you to reject pet projects unrelated to the current pandemic.

Sincerely,

Tim Andrews
Executive Director
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Andrew Langer
President
Institute For Liberty

Christopher Sheeron
President
Action for Health

Seton Motley
President
Less Government

Bob Carlstrom
President
AMAC Action


Robert Fellner
Vice President & Director
Nevada Policy Research Institute

Ryan Ellis
President
Center for a Free Economy

Pete Sepp
President
National Taxpayers Union


Andrew F. Quinlan
President
Center for Freedom and Prosperity

James Taylor
President
The Heartland Institute

Jeff Mazzella
President
Center for Individual Freedom

Dr. Bob McClure
President & CEO
The James Madison Institute

Matthew Kandrach
President
Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Brett Healy
President
The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy

Thomas Schatz
President
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste


Paul Gessing
President
The Rio Grande Foundation

Jessica Anderson
Executive Director
Heritage Action For America

Jason Pye
Vice President of Legislative Affairs
FreedomWorks