Buried deep in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed by President Joe Biden on Thursday, March 11, is a provision to provide a $3.5 billion giveaway to Bill Gates’ Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The organization, simply known as the Global Fund, is an international financing and partnership organization with Gates being one of the first donors to provide seed money.
“I believe this is – and most people I think do as well – this historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation, working people, the middle-class folks, people who built the country, a fighting chance,” Biden said as he signed the bill exactly a year after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic.
With a net worth of $126 billion, Gates doesn’t fit the profile of a middle-class folk.
The provision found on page 613 of the package stated: “$3,750,000,000 to be made available to the Department of State to support programs for the prevention, treatment and control of HIV/AIDS in order to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus, including to mitigate the impact on such programs, of which not less than $3,500,000,000 shall be for a United States contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.”
Critics may point out that most of the Global Fund’s projects are international, which defeats the purpose of the package known as the American Rescue Plan.
Of the bill’s nearly $1.9 trillion in stimulus relief spending, up to $20 billion goes to vaccine distribution and vaccine-related efforts. The bill includes $170 billion for schools, $100 billion for public health and $350 billion for state and local government aid.
It also includes $1,400 checks for Americans making under $80,000 per year and couples earning less than $160,000.
Expanded and extended unemployment insurance under the legislation will last through Sept. 6, with unemployed workers receiving an extra $300 a week in federal benefits. The bill includes a provision that makes the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits nontaxable for households making up to $150,000.
“Total spending directly on COVID-19’s health impacts ranges from $100 billion to $160 billion,” said Jon Greenberg, senior correspondent of fact-checking website PolitiFact. “At the high end, direct COVID-19 spending represents about 8.5 percent of the bill’s $1.9 trillion cost.”
The legislation passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 10, by 220-211 vote after the Senate approved it over the weekend. No Republicans in the House or the Senate supported the package.
Gates has a nose for money
During an appearance at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in October last year, Gates made a prediction.
He said the coronavirus stimulus negotiations would be the “the best opportunity” to get funding approved to help the poorest people in the world get vaccinated.
“The people in the Congress who support these things have decided that [the stimulus bill] is the most likely way for something to get done,” Gates said.
At that time, Gates was trying to secure more funding for a group called GAVI Alliance, a global health partnership of public and private sector organizations promoting “immunization for all.”
The group said it already has deals in place for nearly two billion doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a “core partner” in the group, but the majority of its funding comes directly from nations around the world.
Gates said an additional U.S. contribution would be “in alignment with the country’s past history of being very generous and playing the leadership role in global health.” In a separate interview last year with Yahoo Finance, Melinda Gates discussed the effort to get more funding for GAVI, saying it has a whole distribution system in place to get the vaccine out.
The power couple got their wish.
As part of the announcement for the $900 billion coronavirus relief package in December last year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer touted “an additional $3.36 billion for a total of $4 billion for GAVI, the international vaccine alliance.”
With $4 billion already secured for GAVI and another $3.5 billion on the way for the Global Fund, Gates has successfully lobbied to get a $7.5 billion donation from American tax payers in less than three months during the pandemic. That amount would have been enough to provide one million unemployed Americans with $300 weekly federal benefits for 25 weeks.