Convicts will get COVID bucks

Although three COVID-19 vaccines are being rapidly distributed and states throughout the nation are finally allowing businesses to reopen, the Biden administration is still moving forward with a heavy-handed stimulus package that will put America more deeply in debt.

The latest installment of the coronavirus stimulus package trilogy manifested as Senate Democrats voted to advance President Biden's stimulus bill, which will now go back to the House of Representatives for a final vote.  This package is dubbed the "American Rescue Plan" and comes with a hefty $1.9-trillion price tag.

The spending bonanza includes billions for agricultural subsidies, education payoffs, expanded tax credits, and extended unemployment benefits, and last but not least, the coveted $1,400 stimulus checks.

Once again, all this comes as states are reopening, citizens are getting vaccinated, and hiring surged in February as U.S. economic activity continues to accelerate.  In early March, the Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls jumped by 379,000 and that the national unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent.  So why is this stimulus package still being considered, and where is the money going?

As the Federal Reserve continues to devalue the dollar by printing more and more money, these are the questions all Americans should be asking.  Let us not forget that the $900-billion coronavirus relief bill signed at the end of 2020 was wrapped in a $1.4-trillion omnibus package that gave billions to foreign nations.

It is evident that there is very limited transparency when it comes to congressional spending.  Therefore, it is crucial that we scrutinize the spending in the latest relief package.

For instance, incarcerated convicts, including convicted murderers, will receive stimulus checks.  Once Senate Republicans discovered this abomination, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) submitted an amendment that would exclude prisoners from getting stimulus checks.

In an unsurprising turn of events, not a single member of the Senate broke party lines.  On March 6, the Senate voted on the amendment, and every Democrat voted to send checks to prisoners while Republicans remained united to add the amendment and exclude prisoners from the $1,400 stimulus payments.

It is important to note that prisoners did receive stimulus payments from the CARES Act as well as the coronavirus relief package passed in the omnibus in late December.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) outlined through a series of tweets that Republicans in the Senate did "not intend to send prisoners serving life sentences stimulus checks as part of CARES."  He further stipulates that after the CARES Act, Senate Republicans attempted to mitigate the issue, although they had to rely on litigation to make changes moving forward.  This meant that when the second stimulus relief bill was passed, the litigation was still pending.

The first attempt at rectifying the issue occurred with Sen. Cassidy's amendment, which would prevent prisoners serving life sentences from receiving checks.  After all, the coronavirus pandemic did not bar them from gainful employment; their heinous and unlawful actions did.

Furthermore, prisoners do not pay taxes.  They do the exact opposite.  The damage they have caused to society extends beyond their crimes and their victims.  They become burdens on law-abiding and tax-paying Americans.  Now they will have $1,400 more than before, while 60 percent of U.S. small businesses have closed permanently due to the pandemic.

Sadly, this is a perfect example of how Democrats in the Senate prioritize their progressive ideology above all else.  Not to mention how flippant and reckless they are when it comes to spending taxpayers' money.

So criminals like the Boston Bomber will receive taxpayer-subsidized money while Democrats work in tandem to defund the police in many communities.  That sure sounds like a lose-lose for law-abiding, hardworking taxpayers if ever there was one.

Samantha Fillmore (sfillmore@heartland.org) is a government relations manager at The Heartland Institute.

Image: Rainerzufall1234.