[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 40 (Wednesday, March 3, 2021)]
[Pages S1006-S1007]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, this week, my Democratic colleagues 
are poised to push through the Senate here an untargeted and unfocused 
$1.9 trillion tax and spending package, and it is all being done under 
the guise of COVID relief. Some of it is very essential for COVID 
relief but a small part of it.
  This whole act is very unfortunate because it didn't have to be this 
way. In the past year, Republicans and Democrats were able to work 
together to pass more than $4 trillion in COVID relief, and it was all 
done with strong bipartisan support.
  From the start of this year, my Republican colleagues and I have 
stood ready to engage in good-faith, bipartisan negotiations to provide 
further targeted relief. However, despite all the talk of unity and 
bipartisanship by President Biden, the new Senate majority hasn't even 
attempted to reach across the aisle. Bipartisanship worked 5 times over 
the last 12 months, starting about 1 year ago right now.
  The majority, demonstrating their unwillingness to compromise, has 
resorted to using special budget procedures so that they may pass a 
partisan bill strictly along party lines. The result is going to be an 
unwieldy, nearly $2 trillion package that isn't shaped according to 
current economic realities but strictly by a partisan liberal agenda.
  In February, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, CBO, 
projected that even without any further stimulus, gross domestic 
product will return to its prepandemic levels by mid-2021, and, for the 
year, the economy will grow at 4.6 percent.
  If those two points aren't strong enough, it was recently reported 
that retail sales jumped 5.6 percent during January, and the National 
Retail Federation is projecting retail sales for the year to grow at 
the fastest rate in two decades.
  If those four points aren't enough, at the same time, personal income 
is reported to have risen by 10 percent, and the personal savings rate 
has surged from a historically high 13.4 percent to over 20 percent.
  The American economy will soon be roaring without a $2 trillion 
further stimulus. It is no longer March of 2020 when the economy was in 
free fall and businesses and places of employment were shut down. And 
how were they shut down? By those of us right here in the Congress of 
the United States, the Federal Government doing it by government edict.
  While many individuals and certain sectors of our economy continue to 
struggle and, of course, deserve a helping hand, others have largely 
recovered and are no longer in need of assistance. At this time, 
instead of $2 trillion, two-thirds of it not needed, why not help those 
hurting and not pour gasoline on the inflationary fires? A COVID relief 
package should reflect this reality in both size and scope.
  Even longtime Democratic economists, such as Obama's former Director 
of the National Economic Council, have raised concerns about enacting 
nearly a $2 trillion stimulus package at this point when we are already 
in recovery. As former Secretary of Treasury Summers--I also referred 
to him as Director of the National Economic Council--this is what he 
says: ``The proposed Biden stimulus is three times as large as'' the 
gap between actual and potential output as estimated by the CBO.
  Enacting a stimulus unmoored from economic reality poses real risks 
to our economy, including inflation and slower economic growth moving 
forward. In fact, a Penn Wharton Budget Model analysis of the 
President's proposal projects the proposed stimulus would result in a 
decrease in both GDP and wages in 2022 and over the next 2 decades.
  While inflation has been subdued in recent years, we shouldn't let 
that lull in inflation lull us into a false sense of confidence that we 
can spend with impunity with no consequences. We are in unchartered 
waters with debt held by the public exceeding the size of our economy 
and trillion-dollar annual deficits.
  Moreover, as economist John Greenwood and Steve Hanke, professor of 
economics at Johns Hopkins, recently warned:

       The money supply will grow by nearly 12 percent this year. 
     That's twice as fast as its average growth rate from 2000-19. 
     It's a rate that spells trouble--inflation trouble.

  And that is without another round of stimulus that we are going to be 
debating in the next few days here on the floor of the U.S. Senate and 
probably passing before the end of the week.
  Concerns of inflation have been dismissed by the White House and by 
the Federal Reserve. This sounds too familiar to those of us who 
witnessed the stagflation of the 1970s. We were told by President Nixon 
and his advisers that they could spend their way to lower unemployment 
and economic growth without inflation. They were wrong. The Nixon 
administration's mistakes ushered in a decade of disastrous inflation. 
I have said for decades, if Nixon did something, we ought to learn from 
it, not repeat it.
  It was with this background of stagflation that I first ran for 
Congress on a platform of fighting inflation. Inflation is a regressive 
stealth tax on every single American. It is particularly unfair to 
those who have very little money to begin with, and those who have 
lived beneath their incomes to save for the future only to see their 
hard work wiped out as the value of the dollars that they put away 
plunges. Hopefully, Nixon inflation is only history never to return.

[[Page S1007]]

  But none of us can guarantee that inflation won't return. Not only is 
the size of this stimulus package detached from reality; so is the 
scope. A common adage for stimulus and economic relief measures is that 
they should be timely, they should be temporary, and they should be 
targeted. By this standard, the Democrats' stimulus is well wide of the 
  More than one-third, or about $700 billion, of the funding in the 
bill wouldn't even be spent until 2022 or beyond, according to the CBO. 
How does anybody know that we need a stimulus in 2022 and beyond? By 
what standard does the Biden administration say that we are going to 
need that? And doesn't that have something to do with the failure of 
this bill to accomplish what it wants to accomplish, or even the need 
for it, if some of this money won't be spent until the outer years?
  I don't know about you, but I don't see how spending hundreds of 
billions of dollars years from now is either timely or targeted. As 
these economists talk about a stimulus, if it is going to be any good, 
it needs to be timely and targeted.
  What does all this have to do with fighting the pandemic right now, 
with the people hurting right now? Are these same people going to be 
hurting in these out years when some of this money is going to be 
spent? If that is the case, this brand-new administration is already 
admitting that their policies of the future are a failure and a failure 
  Nearly a quarter of the package, or $422 billion, is dedicated to 
direct payments to households with incomes up to $200,000, all 
regardless of whether they have lost a job or experienced any loss of 
income. Such untargeted payments make little sense when just this past 
week it was reported that personal income was up 10 percent and 
personal savings rates soared to over 20 percent. We clearly shouldn't 
be using taxpayer dollars to pad the bank accounts of those with six-
figure incomes when we ought to be targeting this toward those who are 
unemployed and those who are low income.
  Then we have another $350 billion of this package that is going to be 
allocated to bail out fiscally irresponsible States at the expense of 
States that have managed their State budgets wisely, like my home State 
of Iowa. This spending is hard to justify given recent reports 
indicating most States saw little to no drop in revenue between 2019 
and 2020. And many States that were previously projecting shortfalls 
are now projecting budget surpluses.
  The package also includes hundreds of billions of dollars in liberal 
wish-list priorities that have very little to do with the current 
pandemic. This includes enhancements to refundable tax credits, an 
expansion of ObamaCare subsidies, and an $86 billion taxpayer bailout 
of poorly managed pension plans.
  On poorly managed pension plans, that is something that I have been 
trying to reform over the last 2 years, and reform is necessary, as 
much as helping them with taxpayer dollars. But there are absolutely no 
reforms in this stimulus of those multiemployer pension plans. It is 
simply an $86 billion bailout.
  In the case of COVID, there are some things that no amount of money 
can address. Until the widespread immunity is achieved, many people 
will not feel comfortable eating out, going to a movie, taking in a 
concert, or traveling on a vacation. Spending trillions of dollars will 
not change the attitude of those people who are going to still be very 
  So here is what I would spend the money on--and a lot less money than 
$1.9 trillion. Yes, let's prioritize funding for vaccine distribution, 
assistance for the unemployed, and aid for small businesses in the 
struggling sectors. And, by all means, let's open our schools. Doing 
this doesn't require $2 trillion. Let's remove the pork in this bill. 
Let's set aside the long-term leftwing wish list and work together as 
we did before in those five bipartisan bills over the last 12 months. 
And they have passed both bodies overwhelmingly.
  Several of my Republican colleagues approached the White House a few 
weeks ago with a long list of what I just said--maybe a longer list of 
items proposed by President Biden that could get Republican support 
with minimal tweaks. A bipartisan package along those lines could well 
have passed a few days ago. It is still not too late. I hope we can 
make a bipartisan effort happen again
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. BARRASSO. Madam President, first, I would like to associate 
myself with the outstanding remarks from the senior Senator from Iowa, 
whose long experience in this body is one that we all look to with 
great admiration and respect.
  When he speaks on this, he is well known for his fundamental focus on 
taxpayer dollars and making sure money isn't wasted, making sure money 
is directed to the areas where it is supposed to go, where it is needed 
the most. When he points out how this is a bill basically piled on with 
pork--and he is from Iowa; he knows about pork--he points out how 
misguided this effort is, how expensive it is, and how misdirected it 
  I just want to associate myself with these wonderful remarks of the 
senior Senator from Iowa, and it is a pleasure and a privilege to serve 
with him.