Phoenix Declares COVID No Longer An Emergency

Phoenix Declares COVID No Longer An Emergency

By Corinne Murdock |

Last Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council declared that COVID-19 no longer constitutes an emergency. The council passed the resolution quietly and without discussion, lumping it in with dozens of other agenda items. 

It has been two years and eight months since the city first declared COVID-19 as an emergency. Yet, the issue that instigated controversy and struggle for so long was passed over with little notice. 

The resolution rescinding the emergency declaration for COVID-19 cited the CDC data from late last month listing transmission levels for Maricopa County as “low.” This means that all declarations related to the COVID-19 emergency are rescinded. 

Although the city rescinded the emergency declaration, they continue to offer COVID-19 mitigation resources like testing kits and masks.

The city lagged behind the state in determining that COVID-19 no longer constituted an emergency.

Governor Doug Ducey ended the state’s COVID-19 emergency in March. The city last updated its face mask policy in February, requiring mask-wearing if risk levels were considered high. Phoenix went through periods of rescinding then reimposing its mask mandate.

It wasn’t until April that the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport dropped its mask mandate in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration no longer enforcing the federal mask mandate.

Like most other cities, Phoenix capitalized on its $396 million in COVID-19 relief funds to subsidize community needs and other projects. 

This included allocations like $75.5 million for homeless shelters, housing, treatments, and resources; $31 million for affordable housing and financial assistance; $16.7 million for a “Resilient Food System” to increase agriculture in the city with a focus on equity and inclusion; $10.5 million for planting trees and making homes energy efficient; $8.3 for refugees; $5 million went to community college tuition assistance.

As for COVID-19 mitigation efforts and expenses: $28.9 million went to city testing and vaccination efforts, $28 million funded current and projected COVID-19 health care expenses for the city, and $22 million funded premium pay for essential city workers.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

America Is Facing a Cycle of Doom but Nobody Seems to Care

America Is Facing a Cycle of Doom but Nobody Seems to Care

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

America’s political class can no longer put off the inevitable. They soon will have to pay for their insanely reckless fiscal practices.

It’s not going to be pretty. America’s debt has reached an appalling $31 trillion. Annual interest payments will exceed $1 trillion this year. Debt service is well on its way to crowding out other priorities, a trend which will only accelerate.

Unfortunately, a steep rise in interest rates occurred near the end of the biggest spending binge ever. Economists are warning we are nearing the dreaded “doom loop” in which interest costs can be covered only by more borrowing which further drives up interest expense, creating a vicious cycle.

There is a weird, almost preternatural calm about our dire fiscal future during this campaign season. We’ve seen much consternation about inflation, public safety, the border, and other critical issues. Yet politicians and the media hardly mentioned the debt crisis, so the public seems to assume everything is under control.

It isn’t, not by a long shot. Uncle Sam issued $7 trillion in new debt to finance the recovery from the COVID pandemic and our panicked overreaction to the disease. It’s too bad we can’t take back that $7 trillion.

Much of it was stolen by fraud and bureaucratic bumbling. Funds went to school districts, that haven’t spent them so far, to finance the indolence of those who preferred not to work and to Democrat pet projects like “climate change.” Millions of voters in no distress whatsoever got checks, as did some illegal immigrants.

Many economists predicted that injecting that much cash into the economy would cause inflation, especially since supply was limited by weakness in the labor market, fuel shortages, and supply chain problems. They were mostly ignored but turned out to be absolutely correct. After decades of relative price stability, we are now experiencing 8% inflation with no end in sight.

Millions of non-economists are experiencing what that does to your standard of living. Suddenly, food, fuel, and shelter have become existential concerns to millions of Americans, and the economic future looks dim.

Inflation also increases government spending. Social Security benefits are inflation-adjusted, resulting in an 8%, $100 billion increase. Total government healthcare costs will grow from $710 billion last year to $915 billion.

Financial markets cannot ignore the cloud of government debt hanging over our economy. A serious recession will almost certainly soon be upon us. Already, declining stock and bond values over the past nine months assure a steep decline in capital gains tax revenue, another contributing factor to the deficit.

The Federal Reserve board is doing the only thing it can to address inflation, which is to raise core interest rates. That also directly adds to the national deficit, increasing the interest cost and driving up the balance, since no other source of funds is available.

So, to summarize, unnecessary COVID-related spending of $7 trillion has combined with chronic overspending, which caused inflation, which increased borrowing costs, which drove up the deficit, thus precipitating a recession which will deprive the government of revenues to pay down the surging debt load. Way to go, guys.

The principle response of the Biden administration has been denial. Our president claims the economy is thriving. A monthly .1% drop in the inflation rate was the pretext for claiming inflation was in decline. The national debt is never mentioned, nor are the untold trillions in future promises we have made to senior citizens and others.

Instead, Biden issued a probably unconstitutional executive order “canceling” unpaid college loans – i.e., transferring the liability to taxpayers. It was terrible public policy, penalizing those who had behaved responsibly and incentivizing student indebtedness in the future. It spent yet more money in a desperate attempt to bribe some votes for the midterm elections.

Yet there seems to be little taxpayer resentment. Why should they care? Their taxes aren’t going to increase. The obligation will be added to the great river of debt passed on to future generations—you know, those little people who don’t vote yet.

They will inherit an America feeble and impoverished, that will have forfeited its greatness because of our greed and selfishness. STOP THE SPENDING!

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

The Urge to Spend Is Out of Control—And Time Is Running Out to Reverse Course

The Urge to Spend Is Out of Control—And Time Is Running Out to Reverse Course

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Loma Verde, California is building a $24 million recreation center with a pool. Forest Lakes, Minnesota is getting a $1.5 million golf clubhouse, while San Antonio is purchasing a $15 million theme park.

These may seem frivolous when rampant inflation is threatening, but never mind, they’re all “free,” a synonym for “paid for by the feds.”

America is awash in cash. Hundreds of other communities are enjoying similar goodies. States in no fiscal difficulty whatsoever have been given billions in budget boosts.

Checks for thousands of dollars have gone to citizens not even claiming to be in need. Millions of Americans receive enough government cash that they can now avoid the inconvenience and degradation of work.

These are the outcomes of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion-dollar American Rescue Plan, although the link to COVID may seem obscure to some. But the bigger point is that our governing culture today sees government spending as a positive good, which may be prompted by any excuse or none at all.

This is a continuation of the age-old argument over the role of government. For those who see government as a benign force that can efficiently, by use of its taxing power, address the common welfare and assure equitable outcomes, every dollar transferred from private to public hands is a positive.

Moreover, Big Government clearly increases the power and prestige of government officials. It creates beneficiaries highly likely to vote for those politicians who “cared” enough to send Other Peoples’ Money their way.

Vastly expanded government has also affected the attitudes of Americans toward the role of government in their lives. To an extent unthinkable to earlier generations, Americans now assume the federal government will take responsibility for such matters as healthcare, education, childcare, and aging parents.

The founders of our Constitution would not be pleased. Their original intent was to create a more just and independent society than the autocracies which had plagued mankind for millennia. Regrettably, Americans have blandly looked on while much of their birthright has been stolen.

Much of the recent confiscation of our nation‘s economic output has come under the pretext of COVID spending. But remember that the COVID financial crisis was a self-inflicted wound. The lockdowns were unprecedented and proved ineffective as a pandemic response strategy, but they precipitated a huge expansion of government power.

America has so far spent $6.4 trillion in COVID relief bills. The $1.9 trillion in the 2021 American Rescue Plan alone was enough to buy every COVID vaccine, ventilator, and hospital in existence. But much of the money went to beyond-obvious pork and to support Democratic political constituencies.

New York, among others, is reportedly sitting on $12.7 billion in unneeded COVID funds that they hope will revert to “unassigned” dollars. The money was pushed out so carelessly that the Labor Department IG estimates $163 billion of the $872 billion in COVID unemployment funds were dissipated in fraud.

The consequences of all this unnecessary spending are predictable and enormous. In 2009, then-President Obama warned against continuing deficits when the debt had doubled from $5 trillion to $10 trillion under his predecessor.

It was $20 trillion by the time he left office, stands at $30 trillion today, and will reach $45 trillion by 2032 according to Biden’s own budget projections.

But trifles like stifling debt and lack of need can’t suppress the political urge to spend. With COVID receding and no extraordinary expenses pending, Joe Biden’s new budget proposal rings in at $5.8 trillion, fully 31% higher than in 2019.

Federal revenues rose 18% in 2021, then 26% this year, but it’s not enough. Biden‘s $2 trillion projected deficit means the debt will have climbed $7 trillion in just the last three years. Multi-trillion-dollar deficits have effectively been normalized.

It could be worse. We narrowly escaped passage of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better boondoggle. Yet now Biden has the gall to demand $30 billion more for COVID expenses when at least $500 billion from the last COVID relief bill is still unspent.

The mindless, immoral imperative to spend more knows no bounds. Time is running out to reverse course. When will we come to our senses?

The High Cost of Our Botched COVID Response

The High Cost of Our Botched COVID Response

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Let’s face it. America botched its response to the COVID pandemic.

Traditionally, as in the Spanish flu and polio pandemics, authorities have recommended common sense public health measures and protected the vulnerable. This time, they ordered sweeping lockdowns of the economy and closed schools, churches, and businesses.

The results were economic devastation, educational stagnation, greater income inequality, and loss of civic life.

Sweden, even though it has a reputation for a more collectivist mindset than our “land of the free” got it right. Their health officials adopted a live-and-let-live strategy, mostly rejecting lockdowns and letting normal life go on.

Initially, health outcomes suffered some, partly because Swedes neglected to adequately protect their nursing homes. But today, probably because of herd immunity, Sweden’s death rate is just over 1614 per million, compared to 2335 in Britain and 2836 in the US.

Even better, Sweden avoided the multiple consequences Americans now face. GDP growth is projected to be 5% larger than pre-pandemic, and they don’t face a mountain of future debt. Since schools stayed open without face masks, there were no lost years of education and test scores are up.

Unfortunately, America’s response to the self-inflicted wounds caused by our COVID panic caused yet more harm. When confronted with the results of their mismanagement, America’s governing leftists reverted to their universal solution for all ills: spend more money.

So last March, President Biden triumphantly announced “help is here” as he signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. We were assured that the truly massive spending would help defeat the pandemic, reopen schools, and revitalize the economy, creating at least 4 million additional jobs.

We now know the bill was a colossal failure. We didn’t get more jobs, but we did get ominous inflation even though Biden had insisted that “no serious economist” predicted inflation as a result of the spending surge.

The inflation was totally predictable. At least 1.8 million people declined to reenter the workforce when the $300 per week unemployment benefit supplement was extended. That’s understandable since one study indicated that in 19 states, a family of four with two “unemployed” adults could receive $100,000 in total government benefits.

Meanwhile, trillions more were pumped into the economy. This excess demand, combined with fewer goods and services being produced, was the perfect recipe for inflation, which “serious economists” now acknowledge is probably here to stay.

Why did the plan have no effect on COVID? Answer: it didn’t really try. PolitiFact concluded only 10% of the bill addressed COVID health impacts and 1% went to advancing vaccines, the most effective way to impact serious disease.

Instead, the ever-vigilant spenders saw their chance to enact a wish list and took it. Their dreams that came true included $20 million for “preservation of Native American languages,” raising Obamacare subsidies, and a massive expansion of the child tax credit.

Since the feds are sitting on so much surplus funding (sarcasm alert), $350 billion went to state and local governments to help them weather the pandemic. But even when the bill was being considered, it was already clear that state-local tax revenues were growing, and their budget crisis never materialized. It was simply an excuse for feds to shovel out money, mostly to their friends in Democrat states.

Public schools were also showered with $120 billion to help them reopen safely. But the funds came with no requirements attached. By the end of FYI 2022, only $40 billion will have been spent, leaving education administrators with an $80 billion slush fund. Thanks, COVID.

So, another $1.9 trillion accumulates onto our debt load, and we have precious little to show for it. We have fewer jobs than were predicted in the “baseline” without the bill, and there was minimal or no effect on the course of the pandemic.

Lesson learned? Nah. Biden preposterously proposes spending yet more on Build Back Better, an even larger collection of handouts, as an inflation cure. Yet our debt is not only higher than ever ($30 trillion) but rising interest rates now will make our debt service more expensive and hasten the Day of Reckoning.

When will they ever learn?