- - Thursday, July 23, 2020

The apparent spike in coronavirus cases has been accompanied by renewed demands for more of what the Washington elites call “stimulus.” Big surprise. Giving in would be a mistake “along the lines of getting involved in a land war in Asia” which, as fans of “The Princess Bride” know, is the second greatest blunder known to man.

Instead of more spending, which both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have in mind, the next bill should focus on ways to help American business and the people they employ keep more of what they make.

There’s plenty of evidence to support the idea this is the way to go. One need look no further than the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which President Trump supported enthusiastically, to see this is true. The rate reductions kicked off an economic expansion that boosted growth, created jobs, and was producing a rise in real wages before the lockdowns were imposed.

The most important thing now is to get people back to work. The lockdowns must be lifted — but there are things to do before that can happen if we don’t want to pay for it later. Washington must ensure businesses won’t be walloped by rapacious trial lawyers seeking easy money down the road and companies of any size need assistance putting their workforce back online.

In a recent letter to Mr. Trump, Committee for Prosperity co-founders Steve Forbes and Stephen Moore made several recommendations that make good sense, starting with a temporary suspension of the payroll tax to give, for example, a person making $40,000 the equivalent of an annual $3,000 after-tax raise while reducing employer labor costs by about 7.5%. Despite Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin saying Thursday the idea was being set aside for the moment in favor of stimulus checks, it’s still the best idea out there.

It would act as an incentive for companies to keep current workers and hire new ones, which addresses the complaint made by those who dislike the idea that it provides no help to the unemployed. It creates reasons for people to offer them a job.

Mr. Forbes and Mr. Moore also call for employers to be given a federal liability shield for 12 months that will protect them from frivolous but expensive to defend-cheaper to settle lawsuits anytime a plaintiff’s attorney asserts someone got sick at work from COVID-19.

Lastly, they call on the administration to put the unemployment system back the way it was for 50 years by eliminating the COVID-19-era $600 per week bonus payment to the unemployed. If Congress insists on some form of short-term funding for families in financial distress, say Mr. Forbes and Mr. Moore, then another round of $1,200 payments — which is what Mr. Mnuchin said the White House would pursue - while not being the best idea is preferable because the checks don’t discourage working like the bonus payments have.

We can think of a few other things. Many of the government-run schools are saying they will only open for in-building instruction on a part-time basis. Others say they won’t open at all. Parents aren’t being given a choice and both options are bad for children because of the adverse educational and health conditions they will create. says no less an authority than the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Instead of sending tax dollars to schools that aren’t open, it would make more sense and would be better for the economy if they were given out as scholarships to help parents fund their children attendance at private or parochial schools that are open on a full-time basis.

The president and his advisers are said to be working on a plan to do just that, using a small percentage of federal education aid that’s already in the pipeline. Its conversion to scholarships ought to be in the next bill, with tax savings going to any individual or business who wants to kick in some money. To help America’s seniors especially, the next bill should contain a provision allowing retirees over the age of 60 to make temporary, tax-free withdrawals of up to $50,000 from their 401Ks and IRAs to help pay bills, do home repairs, or help out a family member who has fallen on hard times because of the lockdown and the economic crash it caused.

Finally, because dangerous times call for bold measures, the president should ask Congress to expand the availability of Health Savings Accounts so people can address their health care needs tax-free for as long as the pandemic lasts. It’s an option that could be utilized by hundreds of millions of Americans including those on Medicare, Medicaid, receiving care through the Veterans Administration, and those participating in Indian health plans, Obamacare or an employer-sponsored plan.

The next bill should be geared toward helping the American people help themselves with their own money through their own hard work and initiative. More spending isn’t the answer and, if that’s all Washington has to offer, it would be better to have no bill at all.

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