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Debate: Should the U.S. Spend More to Fight COVID?

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Much of the federal funding that has been allocated toward fighting COVID-19 has been spent. The Biden administration has begun warning that the government may be unable to provide important supplies if more funding is not allocated quickly, before an anticipated COVID-19 surge in the fall and winter months. Still, many debate whether the nation needs added funding for vaccines, research and other tools in the fight against COVID-19.

We asked two professors and authors of ALM’s Tax Facts with opposing political viewpoints to share their opinions about whether additional federal funds should be allocated to COVID-19.

Below is a summary of the debate that ensued between the two professors.

Their Votes:

Bloink

Byrnes

Their Reasons:

Bloink: We need to continue to allocate federal funds to fighting COVID-19. Sure, we’re returning to normal. The virus has become much less dangerous now that we have vaccines and other tools to fight off serious illness. On the other hand, those tools can only be effective if they’re available. Failure to allocate sufficient federal funds to COVID relief creates a serious risk that we may be forced to return to early pandemic precautions.

Byrnes: There isn’t any urgent need for additional COVID-19 funding as the situation stands right now and the government has much more pressing issues that should be addressed first. As always, determining priorities when it comes to allocating limited federal funds is a complex matter. The country is struggling with sky-high inflation and soaring gas prices, and we need to first take steps to address those issues before we worry about yet another round of COVID funding.

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Bloink: We have to face the reality that the government is quickly running out of money to ensure that we have the tools to continue fighting a dangerous virus that isn’t going away anytime soon. If we want to make sure we have enough vaccines for everyone this fall and winter, we need to pass funding now. 

Byrnes: It’s not that we should stop funding COVID vaccines and research entirely, but we have to be responsible about our priorities and allocate funds to the issues that are most important to Americans right now, such as inflation. Americans have by and large moved forward with their lives, and we’re now struggling with an entirely different set of issues that must be addressed before we go back to allocate more funding to COVID.

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Bloink: Waiting too long to address this serious funding issue could bring us back to square one as the virus continues to mutate and prove dangerous for Americans across the board. It’s flat-out embarrassing that one of the most powerful nations in the world may soon not have enough money to make sure every citizen has access to even a simple COVID vaccination.

Byrnes: We have options for funding COVID research and development right now. We could take funds that are sitting unused from previous COVID relief bills and allocate those funds toward vaccines and research. The bottom line is that we’ve already greatly reduced the risks associated with COVID-19 and this is now a virus that we’re simply going to have to live with — and we can’t always make funding COVID research our top priority.

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