This summer, we face two simultaneous crises: a public health crisis caused by the coronavirus — a novel virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and more than 10,000 people in Texas — and an economic crisis that has resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs.
That’s a lot to deal with. There’s not a person in this country who hasn’t been affected by what’s going on. While we’re slowly re-opening, which is good news, the reality is that we still have a long way to go in terms of recovery.
This is unprecedented in our lifetimes. You have to go back to the Great Depression to find a comparable economic catastrophe that has struck the American economy. We have millions of small businesses that have either gone out of business or are on the verge of bankruptcy. So the task going forward is enormous.
In the Senate, my colleagues and I worked together on four separate pieces of legislation that all passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. People often refer to these bills as stimulus legislation, but that’s not what they were. I call them “relief” legislation because these bills were designed to provide short-term, immediate relief to individuals, families and businesses to help them get through crises.
We’re in a different stage now — deciding what to do going forward, as things begin to open up and we get the economy going again. There are some on the Democrat side of the aisle who want to continue shoveling money at the problem. The reality is that the amount of money Congress has spent in the last few months to deal with our public health and economic crises is staggering. We’ve added over four trillion to our national debt since the start of the year and our national debt as a percentage of GDP is over 130%. This is unsustainable.
We can’t fix this problem by simply throwing more money at it. I believe we need to unleash the power of the American free enterprise system and focus on recovery legislation designed to get people back to work, and get them back to work safely. That’s why I’m introducing the RECOVERY Act, a comprehensive proposal to reduce taxes and regulations on small businesses so they can open their doors again, hire back their employees and grow. The RECOVERY Act would also give a tax credit to employers to provide COVID-19 testing to their employees so that people can go back to work safely. The more testing we have that’s reliable, the easier it is for people to keep their families safe and go back to work. But it doesn’t stop there. My legislation would also:
Help find cures for COVID-19 by expediting the approval process for vaccines and treatments.Deliver payroll tax relief to employers and employees.Bring supply chains back to the United States.Eliminate burdensome regulations that hurt small businesses.Allow Americans who stopped saving for retirement this year to make “catch up” contributions.
Despite these challenging times, Texas is strong. And we’ve been through extreme hardship before. Three years ago this month, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. As you all know too well, it hit Texas hard. Two hundred and fifty miles of Texas were affected, from Corpus Christi all the way up to Louisiana.
When I return to Washington, D.C., I hope my colleagues in Congress can put aside partisan disputes to solve the challenges Americans are facing right now. But this is an election season and, if history is any indication, Washington gridlock might weigh things down.
So as we continue working together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis and those who seek to sow division among us, I know that if we stick together and support one another, we will come through these trying times stronger than before.
Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations; Commerce, Science & Transportation; Judiciary; and Rules & Administration committees. He also serves on the Joint Economic Committee.