The newly elected senator from Georgia, Jon Ossoff, wrote a revealing tweet this week, after the upper house of Congress passed a massive spending bill. “Thanks to Georgia voters,” said the boy wonder, “the United States Senate just passed the most generous economic relief package for working and middle class families in American history.”
The nearly $2 Trillion package—representing close to ten percent of total GDP— will include means-tested $1400 checks, extended unemployment benefits, and billions of dollars in support of vaccine production and vaccination. It also will shower cities and states with hundreds of billions of dollars in relief, well in excess of their actual economic losses from the pandemic.
It’s normal for politicians to crow about their dubious achievements. But what stands out about Jon Ossoff’s remarks is his demand that we recognize the generosity of the Senate Democrats in passing their outsized spending bill.
To be generous in the original sense is to be magnanimous—it has aristocratic implications. Even in the everyday use of the word, though, it connotes charity. Essentially, generosity means you are giving unsparingly of yourself or your own possessions, out of love.
There is no sense in which governments such as our own, which is of the people, can be “generous.” Nor can politicians make such claims. There is no sense in which taking out a $2 trillion loan by selling Treasury notes, the interest on which must be paid by the people and their posterity, is an act of charity. Jon Ossoff is not taking a pay cut, nor will he personally have less so that others may have more.
Indeed there’s a reason why spending bills originate in the “Appropriations Committee.” To “appropriate” something is to take it, not to give it. The $2 Trillion is not being given to the American people by Jon Ossoff and his colleagues; it is being taken from them and reallocated.
This is an old story, of course. Nothing new or especially remarkable. But it does bespeak a tendency among our political ruling class to cast itself as our benefactor. And where does such a calculus place us? Well, in the posture of supplicant. When someone is generous to you, you must genuflect. On our knees is where Ossoff and the progressive elite would have us.
Seth Barron (@SethBarronNYC) is managing editor of The American Mind.