U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, said Wednesday that while the coronavirus pandemic has made government spending necessary to keep the U.S. economy afloat, any further spending should be met with discussions over how much the nation’s deficit will increase.


Huizenga, speaking on a town hall with the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, April 29, told members he does have concerns about the sustainability of constant spending.


Congress has appropriated trillions of dollars to provide relief for individuals, small businesses and corporations since the pandemic began and business were forced to stop operating in a traditional sense.


“This is the first time that we've ever had a situation where government has stepped in and said to virtually, almost the entire economy, ’You need to stop, you can't do business the way that you were doing,’” he said.


“So, I do believe that we have a responsibility. Frankly, if you've got the authority and the ability to shut down the economy, I think you've got the moral responsibility to minimize the damage.”


Congress, most recently, approved additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, a tool designed to allow small business owners keep employees on their payroll while not being able to operate.


Huizenga said there have been instances where employers are having difficulties getting employees to return to work, which was the original purpose of the PPP.


“The idea was to retain people on a, on a payroll, so that you weren't going to have to have this lag of trying to pull them back off of the unemployment system,” he said. “And there's been some real issues with with employers trying to get those employees back off of unemployment.”


Huizenga believes that the private sector could entice employees by offering bonuses and pay increases to better compete for talent.


“In this environment, as fluid as it is, employees are going to know who's offering those promises and who's not,” he said. “And they're going to go to those companies and again, that's market pressure to help encourage that.”


A future coronavirus spending package will likely include additional funding for hospitals, as well as state and local governments facing revenue loss.


— Contact reporter Arpan Lobo at alobo@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @arpanlobo.