REOPENING THE ECONOMY; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 75
(Senate - April 21, 2020)

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[Pages S2182-S2183]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                         REOPENING THE ECONOMY

  Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, no amount of money--not all the money in 
China--will save us from ourselves. Our only hope of rescuing this 
great country is to reopen the economy. If you print up billions of 
dollars and give it to people, they are unlikely to spend it until you 
end the quarantine.
  The good news, though, is that the scientific community finally has 
facts instead of conjecture. The models that used 3.4 percent mortality 
were, fortunately, very wrong. Random samples of thousands of people 
have now been tested for antibodies or immunity to coronavirus. Two 
large randomized studies in California show similar results. The number 
of people who already developed antibodies to the coronavirus is 25 to 
50 times higher than the number that is being reported as infected. 
This is great news. This study means that the mortality rate may well 
be 25 to 50 times less deadly than previously thought.
  The virus is still dangerous, and we shouldn't ignore the risks, but 
we should put those risks in perspective. These randomized tests 
indicate that, instead of a 3.4 percent mortality, that the rate could 
be as much as only 0.1 percent or 0.2 percent. We now have scientific 
evidence from randomized studies that we can manage this disease 
without continuing the draconian lockdown of the economy.
  The question before us isn't to do nothing or to print endless 
amounts of bailout cash. The debate should now include the one choice 
that will get our economy growing again: reopening American commerce.
  Today, I rise in opposition to spending $500 billion more. The virus 
bailouts have already cost over $2 trillion. Our annual deficit this 
year will approach $4 trillion. We can't continue on this course. No 
amount of bailout dollars will stimulate an economy that is being 
strangled by quarantine.
  It is not a lack of money that plagues us but a lack of commerce. 
This economic calamity only resolves when we begin to reopen the 
economy. Opening the economy will require Americans to rise above 
partisanship, to understand that deaths from infectious disease will 
continue, but that we cannot indefinitely quarantine.
  Make no mistake about it, this has been a difficult month for our 
country. For many of us, we have not seen a greater challenge. I am 
encouraged to see how our communities are responding. In Kentucky, we 
have seen tremendous collaboration. People from all walks of life have 
come together to help each other. We have worked to identify and supply 
additional protective gear, masks, and gloves to protect our doctors 
and nurses who risk their lives on a daily basis.
  UPS has set up an airlift operation out of Louisville that includes a 
healthcare facility for FEMA. This lets FEMA make overnight deliveries 
from anywhere in the country. Over 3 million pounds of masks, gloves, 
and other equipment have been shipped to the Louisville airport by UPS.
  We have worked with some of our bourbon distillers to assist them in 
transitioning to producing hand sanitizer. We helped repatriate 
Americans trapped overseas. We also have seen how our communities have 
banded together to support neighbors, businesses, and those in need.
  When protective equipment was in short supply, we discovered a way to 
use industrial masks, and we supported legislation to allow us to bring 
approximately 30 million masks into the medical community. When the FDA 
wouldn't approve COVID-19 tests other than the CDC's--a test that 
initially failed--we introduced legislation that circumvented the FDA 
and circumvented the redtape to get testing done quicker.
  Over the years, the U.S. has accumulated more than $23 trillion in 
debt, spending money that we do not have and borrowing from our kids' 
and our grandkids' future. The gargantuan Federal bailout that just 
passed over $2 trillion brings us closer and closer to a point of no 
return, a point in which the world loses confidence in the dollar and a 
point in which our debt becomes an existential threat to our security. 
The United States is already having to borrow simply to pay our 
promises to senior citizens.
  The U.S. is borrowing about $1 trillion a year just to pay for 
everyday obligations. This is before the pandemic bailout. The U.S. is 
already borrowing nearly $2 million every minute. With the recent $2 
trillion bailout, we are borrowing faster than we have ever borrowed 
  Had we practiced sound budgeting in the past, we would have been in a 
significantly better position to weather this storm. Congress' failures 
of the past, coupled with the pandemic prices of the present, could 
seriously jeopardize our economic future. In this moment, we need to 
think carefully about what we do next.
  To stop the spread of this virus, commerce has been disrupted, 
businesses have closed, and millions have lost their jobs. Right now, 
the number is 20 million unemployed. The job losses will continue no 
matter how much money you throw at it until you reopen the economy.
  Our government has intervened with unprecedented scale to prop up our 
economy. We have injected $2 trillion. I do believe it makes sense for 
the government to provide support to businesses and families who can't 
make it through this. I supported expanding unemployment benefits for 
workers displaced by government quarantine, including self-employed 
individuals that have lost their businesses. But make no mistake, the 
massive economic calamity we are experiencing right now was caused by 
  Passing out $1,200 checks indiscriminately to people who haven't lost 
their jobs will do nothing to rescue the country. If we were going to 
make discrete direct payments, the criteria should have been sending 
checks to people who needed it, people who lost their jobs, people 
furloughed, people who had wage cuts. Instead of directing help to the 
unemployed, though, some of these bailout checks will go to couples who 
earn nearly $200,000 a year. But you could give everybody in the 
country $12,000, and it wouldn't end this recession. Our recovery only 
comes when the quarantine has ended.
  Experts will disagree on the exact date that we should reopen the 
economy, but sane, rational counsel should continue to push for the 
quickest end possible. Opining about never shaking hands again is a 
recipe for keeping the economy closed until no one dies from

[[Page S2183]]

infectious disease. While the infectious disease experts should be 
queried, so, too, should economists. We should seek counsel about 
balancing the harm to health caused by disease with the harm to health 
caused by enforcing dysfunction on the economy--not easy decisions.
  Most importantly, leaders in each State must weigh in on the problem. 
New York City's opening date will be different from Fargo, ND. We need 
to get past a one-size-fits-all approach to infectious disease.
  Realize that most of this money that is being loaned to small 
business is not a loan. Most of this money will not be repaid. It will 
ultimately be considered grants that will be added to our national 
  Let's be honest about this. Applications for the program opened to 
overwhelming initial demand. The current data indicates that the money 
is gone, so now, here we are again, with leadership from both parties 
saying, Let's do another $300 billion, what is another couple hundred 
billion dollars? But realize the money desired is not money we have 
saved for a rainy day. This money doesn't exist anywhere. It will be 
created or borrowed. Even more alarming than the money is the idea that 
one Senator can stand on the floor and pass legislation spending a 
half-trillion dollars and have no recorded vote and no debate.
  Look, I understand the hardships of Senators returning from around 
the country, so I have not invoked the Senate rules to demand a 
recorded vote. I did return today, though, so that history will record 
that not everyone gave in to the massive debt Congress is creating. My 
hope is that, across the country, there will remain a vibrant voice for 
limited government for our constitutional Republic. I don't want to see 
this massive accumulation of debt destroy this great country. My advice 
to the Senate and to the American people is let's be aware of what we 
are doing by creating all this new debt, and let's think before we jump 
to a terrible, terrible conclusion.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.