U.S. Rep. Billy Long told local Republicans at their recent Lincoln Day event that the spending in President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan is 9% related to COVID-19 and the rest is "fluff." This has been the untrue talking point of Republicans in recent weeks and has been designated "false" by several media sources and fact checkers. Being told it's a lie, however, hasn't stopped them from repeating it every chance they get.

One of the best sources for the facts is the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which has determined that 85% of the relief bill is directly related to COVID-19 pandemic health and economic recovery. Their figures match up with other reliable sources.

The remaining 15% will support policies and projects important to both parties and is not just a Democratic "wish list." In fact, the Republican alternative included many of the same items but on a smaller scale. Perhaps you have read about Republican efforts to be sure their home states' priorities were included in the Democrats' version.

I hope Long's audience knew the facts when they heard his "91% is fluff" lie. I hope they recognized that in addition to the 9% for vaccinations and testing, they and their communities will benefit from things such as stimulus checks, small business loans, tax credits for working families, funding for safe school reopening, and relief for state and local governments that have suffered economic losses during the pandemic.

I don't like everything about the relief bill and wish some of it could be more specifically targeted to those who most need it. There are other legitimate concerns raised by a $1.9 trillion spending proposal. But it is unacceptable for  Long to flat-out lie about it and label vital relief efforts as nothing more than "fluff."

Sherry Buchanan


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