Warm greetings! As we wrap up another week of physical distancing, it is nice to see the weather forecast improving. I’m sure the farmers are thinking of planting and gardeners are looking forward to working up the soil in the warm sun!
By now, you likely have all the COVID-19 sites at the local, state and federal levels memorized or bookmarked on your devices. We have all been inundated with “the latest” during the nonstop news reporting on the subject. I personally have spent a great deal of time on conference calls with the White House Intergovernmental Affairs Office, legislative groups, and other solution stakeholders.
The biggest discussion right now is reopening the country and each of our states. I am convinced it can be done wisely; in a manner that continues to protect our health and puts our people back to work. Some of the nation’s leading economists agree that the next six weeks will determine our future.
Every state will need to determine the speed and the method best suited for their specific set of circumstances. As you’ve heard me say before, Iowa is not like New Jersey and therefore will not seek a one-size-fits-all solution in revitalizing our economy. At the same time, infrastructure like railroads, airlines and our trucking industry can’t function effectively with a state-by-state approach. Federal and state government have to work together. I could write the entire newsletter about Federalism, but I will simply say I think it is good that both the President and the Governor are moving forward for the benefit of us all.
To that end, businesses and individual taxpayers alike are being taken care of. On Monday, 80 million checks were deposited in Americans’ bank accounts from Federal legislation that was passed. People have been receiving grants and loans through various state and federal programs. Currently, the Payroll Protection Program has exhausted the appropriation, and states and local governments, hospitals and others have received much-needed funds to provide immediate economic relief.
There are many opinions on how much funding is enough, but I personally hope the Federal government doesn’t try to backfill all the states and local governments. I say that for two reasons, although there are others, I’m sure.
First, the Federal government only gets money from you, the taxpayer, or by printing it. Obviously, neither is a good option when considering additional appropriations beyond our ability to pay for them. We can all be thankful that Iowa has done a good job of planning and saving for emergencies and making sure we not only balanced the budget, but resisted runaway spending just because there was money left at the end of the year. We saved it, and so did many other states. That puts us ahead of the curve for recovery.
Second, using Federal dollars to bail out states is like using your MasterCard to pay your Visa bill. The burden will be on the taxpayer or the Federal government will need to reduce programs and services in other areas to accommodate a backfill. The most prudent thing is to proceed with caution. We all want to help our neighbors, and we have done that as we have gone through this crisis. But it’s time to pause, evaluate and prioritize when it comes to spending more taxpayer money.
Another topic of concern as we move forward is testing for COVID-19. The necessary reagents are in huge demand. Understandably, most go to the outbreak hotspots. About 50,000 Abbott rapid tests are being produced daily. Three antibody tests have been approved by the FDA and many more are making their way through trials. Newer tests require much less PPE. In all testing, accuracy is key. We know we have more capacity for running the tests, but we still need the actual test supplies.
Finally, as we begin the broader recovery process in our state and country we must be vigilant that our rights and freedoms are not curtailed, but rather restored. It will take time, because every decade or two, when we face a true national crisis, we find ourselves with more government and less freedom.
As I close, I want to give a shout-out that also serves as a resource for you. All my colleagues are writing newsletters, and I receive most of them. One caught my eye yesterday. Check out Representative Megan Jones’ newsletter. It has many links to resources that may interest you. In a similar vein, FEMA’s website has a page devoted to help you identify inaccurate information. Visit fema.gov/coronavirus to help you sort out anything erroneous that may be circulating.
Continue to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 641-357-8806. Stay safe and well!