Reps. Spanberger, Riggleman on who will ‘bear the burden’ of coronavirus stimulus package costs: ‘It is us, it is our children’

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As millions of Americans get help from four economic stimulus packages, 8News is digging deeper to find out who will pay for them down the line. 

It’s estimated that the stimulus packages will add at least $2.4 trillion to our national debt.  “I think it’s going to be more,” Rep. Denver Riggleman (R), who represents Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, told 8News on Monday. 

One of the four stimulus packages gives millions of Americans $1,200 payments. “These checks could provide the ability to ensure that people can keep a roof over their head and food on their table,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D), who represents Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, said. 

Spanberger and Riggleman agree the multi-trillion dollar debt isn’t going away any time soon.

“It is us, it is our children, it is our grandchildren, that are gonna have to bear the burden of a debt that this country isn’t able to get under control,” Spanberger said.

Retired local economist and former University of Richmond economics professor, Rob Dolan, said any federal tax increases will depend on who wins the November election and future elections. 

The economist also said he “wouldn’t be surprised” to see local sales and property taxes raised as cities and counties struggle to pay their bills. “They can’t carry the debt like the federal government can,” he said. Dolan added that historically, the federal government has “kicked the can down the road,” meaning it’s continuously added to its debt versus taking action on it. Dolan said he thinks that will happen in this case too. 

Spanberger told 8News how we recover also depends on how people spend after the crisis is over.

“Are we going to see across Virginia or across the country, people going back to restaurants the same way that they were?” Spanberger said. “All of these things will greatly determine what the overall impact is long term.”

Riggleman said the country will also need to reevaluate how it spends. “I think at some point we’re gonna have to have an audit down the line, on what we’re doing on mandatory and discretionary spending. I think that’s gonna take a lot of courage from people to say we have to waive off on this, this one has to go away,” he said. 

Because interest rates are so slow, Dolan said economists are less concerned about the debt than they are about how these huge sums of money will impact inflation. “Interest will become a larger share of the federal budget,” he added. 

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