President Obama and Congress are proposing to spend billions to bail out the states, and they have the audacity to call it a “stimulus” package. They’ve taken up the mantle of the “pushover parent,” who bails out the kids everytime they make a poor choice or use up their allowance too quickly. The “pushover parent” fails to recognize that preventing a child from suffering the consequences of his or her choices is a far more war-torn route in the long run. The short-sighted, ill-advised, and over-eager enthusiasm toward a federal bailout of the states will bring severe consequences for us all.
A federal bailout, like that of a pushover parent, sends a message that states (children) don’t have to be responsible for their out-of-control spending (behavior). The difference between a federal bailout and pushover parent bailout is that the parent uses his own bailout money, but the federal government uses yours. Why should taxpayers be forced to rescue states that have mismanaged taxpayer dollars?
Washington state provides the perfect example of what not to do. The governor and legislature are expecting a $2 billion windfall from the feds for general operations (Medicaid) and over $800 million for “shovel-ready” (i.e. pork) projects. Rather than making hard choices now to offset the 34 percent in spending increases they’ve assumed over the last four years, they’re counting on a handout and a prayer to get them through.
Past federal bailouts of the states have resulted in decreased state sovereignty, encouraged future fiscal irresponsibility and rewarded the most fiscally irresponsible states at the expense of the states that have been fiscally responsible. A federal bailout significantly erodes the constitutional “Republic” form of government. It will mean that state legislators will lose their ability to control the state budgets – Congress will, in effect, control many aspects of state spending.
Bob Williams is the Founder & Senior Fellow of Evergreen Freedom Foundation