Where the Helicopter Money Is Landing

What has the federal government done to help Virginia cope with the COVID-19 crisis? The following data comes from the White House. Clearly, the decision to compile and disseminate the information was political. But the data speaks for itself. 

  • The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has obligated $200.2 million or Virginia to respond to COVID-19
  • FEMA has delivered the following from the Strategic National Stockpile to Virginia:
    • 214,389 N-95 masks
    • 510,222 surgical masks
    • 82,621 medical gowns
    • 2,056 coveralls
    • 101,035 face shields
    • 386,975 gloves
  • Health and Human Services has awarded over $21.29 million in CARES Act funding to 26 health centers across Virginia to assist in combating COVID-19
  • The Commonwealth of Virginia has received a total of $931.4 million from HHS.
  • The Small Business Administration issued over $8.7 billion in loans to over 40,300 Virginia small businesses
  • Housing and Urban Development made over $52,639,529 in COVID-19 funding available to Virginia via CARES Act authorizations
  • The Department of Transportation allocated more than $456.3 million in Federal Transit Administration funds to help the Virginia public transportation systems respond to the challenges of COVID-19

Let me be 100% clear: I am not defending (or criticizing) the White House’s approach to the COVID-19 crisis. (I’m not a big fan of helicoptering money, much of which predictably will be poorly spent.) I provide this information to add context to how well Virginia’s political leadership is dealing with the epidemic. In any public health crisis, a large share of the state’s resources comes from the federal government.

As an aside, Michael Martz with the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the federal government has actually deposited $1.65 billion in relief funds into Virginia’s bank account so far, but adds that much of the money comes with strings attached. He writes: “The money is spent only on specific purposes, such as expenses for medical care, public health and a range of government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.” It cannot be used in any way state officials desire.

— JAB

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24 responses to “Where the Helicopter Money Is Landing

  1. Interesting that the government sent an odd number of gloves. Lol.

    • You need to be more woke. It’s probably because people should be able to pick on which arm their left or right hand is attached. Gloves should be required to fit both hands and thumbs should be available on both sides of either hand. Progressives believe in science, except when they don’t.

  2. “In any public health crisis, a large share of the state’s resources comes from the federal government.”

    Let’s see … the Feds provide the money, the localities do the work (schools, fire police, etc). Makes me wonder why we need such a large, thick, inefficient and corrupt middleman called “state government”.

    • “Makes me wonder why we need such a large, thick, inefficient and corrupt middleman called “state government”.

      Under normal circumstances, this would be a gross violation of our constitutional Republic. Read Federalist Papers. A big NO NO.

      But here, in this highly unusual case of the “Commonwealth of Virginia,” I strongly endorse putting this terminally entrenched kleptocracy into a Federally run Receivership designed to put the place back together into the semblance of a functioning constitutional government.

      This receivership in fact or de jure would be like what is imposed on scofflaw cities such as Detroit or District of Columbia that invariable run off the rails from time to time.

      • It’s only a gross violation if the state refuses to cede control to localities. Dillon’s Rule was a legitimate interpretation of the US Constitution. However, it never claimed that localities couldn’t have substantial power – only that such power had to be granted by the states. Interestingly, Dillon’s home state of Iowa is considered by many to be a shining example of home rule.

        We, the people of Virgina, need to clip our largely useless state government’s wings in favor of stronger home rule.

        Government which governs closest to the people governs best.

        • Organize Virginia like into a collection of Greek city states comprising an Old Dominion Peloponnesian League, you suggest?

          An interesting idea.

          But likely such a collection of motley factious groups of urban Virginians by nature would be ungovernable, squabbling endlessly among themselves unless they be put under a Hedemon’s boot, say the US Federal Government, as the Romans ruled the factious, quarreling, garrulous Greeks.

          History tells us that should work.

          The Roman Republic and its later Roman Empire (27 BC – AD 1453), inclusive of Byzantine Empire after about AD 395, ruled Greece for most of two millennium. This model might work for Virginia in presence of occupying Federal Troops, or Janissaries, if need be.

      • Hmm.. that IS an interesting concept – putting Trump in charge of Virginia… lordy…

  3. What you did not say was WHEN this stuff was delivered and was it delivered automatically in preparation of the need or afterwards when we were told the Feds were not responsible?

    Right now – virtually all of the states including Virginia are saying they need help with testing like having the Feds buy rather than have 50 states competing against each other – and the response from the Feds is that it’s not their responsibility.

    Where would we be right now, if the Feds had taken some responsibility early on – LIKE THEY NORMALLY DO – when as a country we are faced with disaster?

    Citing these “stats”, after the fact is worse than lame especially when we STILL need National-level help and coordination, and we’re still being told it’s not their thing.

    We get money for “small business” but no money for hospitals or testing (until Congress insisted) or local govts – instead we’re giving money to national chain restaurants and other 500 plus employee businesses that are somehow classified as “small business”.

    Other countries are united between their Federal and their states – in this country we have the Feds waiting to do their thing for fear it’s not what the leadership wants and they’ll get whacked.

    • “Right now – virtually all of the states including Virginia are saying they need help with testing like having the Feds buy rather than have 50 states competing against each other – and the response from the Feds is that it’s not their responsibility.”

      Yet these same states insist that deciding when to reopen is almost entirely within their purview?

      The state of Virginia spends $65B per year but can’t buy medical supplies? Kind of makes you wonder why we need much of a state government at all.

      • Having the states compete against each other for supplies that are in desperately short supply is just downright dumb.

        The relationship between the State and Federal govt is a partnership with responsibilities on each side.

        We WANT the states to do the role they do but all there are issues that affect ALL the states and essentially force them to compete against each other to EVERYONE’s harm – it makes no sense.

        • So Congress should preempt purchasing power by states during an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless this is done, you’d have states competing against the federal government. Life and law are more complicated than the MSM can comprehend.

          Larry, you cannot have it both ways. Either the federal government takes charge of everything during the pandemic and then prohibits states from taking action by federalizing the National Guard and effectively suspending state government or we do what we are doing. We have a system with both a national and state governments. Sometimes they bump into each other.

          • Nope. that’s the dufus approach.

            Both the Federal and the State have their appropriate roles and what you don’t do unless you’re just addle-brained is work against each other – “bumps” during a pandemic cost lives.

            We don’t have an all or nothing approach to govt in normal or times like this – and those “bumps” need not be if the Feds do the role they are supposed to do in the first place.

            What you’re saying is that if there is a hurricane in Florida and FEMA has to come – that the Feds should take over the state.

            what kind of sense does that make TMT?

            You guys are always blathering about the “Constitution” then all of a sudden you go totally off the rails! which is it?

          • TooManyTaxes

            No, Larry, you are wrong on this. You wrote “Having the states compete against each other for supplies that are in desperately short supply is just downright dumb.” To prevent that result, you need the federal government to do all the purchasing. You have to prohibit any purchasing by a state to prevent 50 states from competing with each other. Once two states are purchasing supplies to address the pandemic, axiomatically, they are competing with each other in the market. Toss in the other 48 and we have all states competing against each other.

            Your example does not work. A hurricane hits Florida, the state purchases supplies. But no other state is competing with Florida. The state of Idaho is not looking for portable generators. It’s much easier for FEMA and Florida to work together. It’s not the same at all.

            With COVID-19, 50 states are trying to purchase ventilators, for example. They are all competing to buy ventilators wherever they can buy them. If the feds are in the market too, there are at least 51 entities competing for ventilators. To prevent any state against state competition, you need to prevent the states from purchasing ventilators. How else would you do it?

          • TMT – you don’t have to prevent the other states…if a majority are signed on with the Feds – the Feds will have more buying power.

            It’s NOT an either-or thing. The Fed can help as many states as need or want help without requiring all of them to participate.

            But even if you wanted to do that -that does NOT mean the Feds take over everything.

            Similarly on the Florida issue – there can be 5 or 10 or more states impacted and again – in that situation it has nothing to do with buying stuff – it has to do with the Feds bringing disaster aid – like emergency equipment and help – as to the needs of each state – they may well require different levels of help, some may be okay and not need as much

            and again – that does not mean the States give up all powers.

            Even with the ventilator question – if most of the states agree to let the Feds buy stuff – it will have far more buying power than any one or two states.

            But in no case, does the State get taken over by the Feds if the Feds lend aid. If that was the rule – no state would do it and, in fact, all the states would go together themselves and get their own broker and, in fact, we’re starting to see this now with the states losing confidence in the Fed on these issues.

            ” Either the federal government takes charge of everything during the pandemic and then prohibits states from taking action by federalizing the National Guard and effectively suspending state government ”

            where did you get this from? It’s just not an either-or proposition. Are you knocking down some wine tonight? 😉

          • TooManyTaxes

            Larry, you keep changing the facts. You wrote “Having the states compete against each other for supplies that are in desperately short supply is just downright dumb.” If 50 states need ventilators, they will be in the market absent anything else. As such, they are competing against each other.

            Unless a law passes Congress that preempts state purchase of ventilators or the states each agree to let the feds do all ventilator purchases and then distribute them according to a formula, this competition will exist. Absent preemption, even if five states don’t agree, there’s real competition, most especially if some of the five are large states.

            If Virginia is actively seeking ventilators, it’s competing with everyone else in the market. If Virginia agrees to let the feds purchase ventilators for the Commonwealth, Virginia is not in the market competing.

            There are lots of ways the feds and the states can cooperate. But the only way to avoid competition in purchasing pandemic supplies is for Uncle Sam to do all the purchasing.

          • TMT – it does not have to be 50 states and they certainly do not cede all their power to the Fed either.

            You need to keep in mind that there are also other countries competing.

            The point is that a buyer who want more units has more buying power.

            California, for instance, is the 8 largest country in the world in terms of economic ability. It might well be able to go out by itself and compete well but the smaller states would need to combine efforts to improve their chances.

            The Federal govt is a major competitor that can help the smaller states – and it should and there’s no good excuse not to other than ignorant politics that we do not need right now.

  4. “Makes you wonder why we need much of a state government at all.”

    Who else then gonna chase down, shame, and beat up all the Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it, in Basket of Deplorables?

  5. What will be needed is some sort of mechanism for tracking this money to document how it was spent. Hopefully, the administration or DPB is going to do that.

  6. Agreed. But things are happening too fast. When you think, these events only span a couple months.my advice is patience.

  7. I have zero confidence that there won’t be skulduggery. We’re already seeing it.

    What I really worry about is the State and local Govt budgets and where the cuts will fall – primarily on education which is 50% or more of local govt budgets.

    Come Fall – when schools normally would open – there is going to be immense pressure on local school systems to shed staff that are not actively involved in distance learning – and that, in turn, is going to add to unemployment rolls unless the Feds do for teachers what they have done for small business employees and so far, that’s not being discussed.

  8. Okay, so how many months/weeks/days will those supplies last? Donations often sound impressive until you compare them to need.

    • That’s just one of the problems with the Feds these days. Looking ahead is NOT their strong point…’

      Just think how much further along this country would be if the Feds were actually working WITH the states and not acting like some petty leader of a 3rd world country.

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