By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said the coronavirus relief bill headed to the U.S. Senate this week gets a grade of “F” from him because it is “packed with pork.”
He criticized the bill in two different venues on Tuesday, on the Senate floor and during an appearance on Fox Business with Maria Baritromo.
“This whole coronavirus so-called relief bill is packed with pork,” Barrasso said on Fox. “This is a piece of legislation that is the wish list of liberal Democrats for a long, long time. This whole bill, in my opinion, gets an F grade.”
Barrasso was referring to certain provisions of the bill, including one raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 (something both he and U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis have been vocal in opposing), another providing money for “failing pension funds” and a third funding what he called “bailouts for blue states.”
A Congressional Budget Office report estimated the legislation, if passed, would increase the cumulative budget deficit by $54 billion in the next decade. Prices for goods and services would also increase as a result of paying workers more, the report said.
But the report also estimated the minimum wage increase would pull 900,000 workers out of poverty and pump $333 billion back into the economy.
Barrasso said on the Senate floor that he opposed the billions of dollars being spent on issues unrelated to the virus.
He also mentioned that the bill would subsidize health insurance, allowing people who make significant amounts of money to still get government aid for health care which they do not need.
“Government aid is supposed to be for those who need it — people who can’t make it on their own. But that’s not been the focus of the Democrats with this legislation,” Barrasso said on the floor. “This legislation is not about coronavirus, not about coronavirus testing and vaccination. This new proposal with these additional subsides is just going to get us this much closer to one-size-fits-all, socialized medicine.”
He added that Republicans wanted to lower health care costs, but Democrats wanted to raise what the government pays and that the party was pressuring states to expand Medicaid, something Wyoming has declined to do during numerous legislative sessions.
“I think only one dollar out of 11 of this $1.9 trillion bill actually goes to help get people back to work, kids back to school, focuses on the health care components of the coronavirus,” he said. “Republicans are offering the American people a stronger economy and opening schools. That’s what we ought to be focusing on.”