Give Liberty a Chance!

God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies…

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgement of faith in God and His works.

- Frederic Bastiat, The Law, 1850

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Don't Worry, Your Kids Will Pay for It

Last weekend governors from across the Nation met in Washington, DC to learn about the federal dependency package recently lashed onto the backs of taxpayers present and future. As the details of this anti-federalism approach to the woes of our Nation become known, the strings attached are beginning to lift the skirt on the real intentions of Congress.

It is already well known that the vast majority, two-thirds, of the $787 billion is not intended to stimulate the economy, but to help make people more comfortable in their misery. Shame on Congress for feeding crumbs to a hungry man to satisfy the immediate pangs in his stomach, while doing nothing to unburden his load that holds back his ability to innovate, to invent, and to empower him to build a dream. The path that returns us to prosperity begins with these tenants in mind. This is big government at its worst.

States should not, and can not, view this “windfall” of “free” money as the medicine that heals their budget woes. Have we forgotten to ask, whose fault is it when a state spends more than it takes in?

The strings attached to the federal dependency package appear to be strong and many. These strings will require states to change their own state laws to receive some of the federal funds, which is a dangerous endeavor. Congress has made it clear that they want more control over the states and that they know what is better for you and me, instead of your state legislature.

The monies available from the federal government for health care, welfare, and education, to name a few, are only available for two years. What will a state have to do to replace that money when those two years expires? The answer is raise taxes or go hat in hand back to Washington and beg for more.

The cycle of dependency will either begin or end here.

An example of how Washington intends to extend its reach further into our affairs is the unemployment insurance portion of the package. Missouri is expected to qualify for $133 million to prop up our unemployment insurance program, a program that is facing significant fiscal hardships, but only if we change our state laws to significantly expand the program.

The first $88.8 million is only available to Missouri if we agree to cover unemployed people who are seeking part-time jobs, instead of full-time work; to cover people who voluntarily leave their job for family reasons, including the illness or disability of a family member, domestic violence, or to accompany a spouse who has taken a job elsewhere; to extend benefits for an additional 26 weeks, after their regular jobless benefits expire, to people who are in job training programs; and to add $15 a week to the benefits of unemployed people with dependents, such as parents with children at home.

An additional $44 million would become available if we change our unemployment insurance laws to change the time period in which a worker’s wages are analyzed to determine unemployment benefits.

Under our current unemployment insurance law only employees fired without cause are eligible for jobless benefits. The proposed revisions will take away the power of the state to decide its own future.

If the state went along with this, it is estimated that Missouri would have to spend somewhere between $28.1 million to $93.7 million of it’s own money to get the $133 million from the federal government. Where is that money going to come from? How will the state make up for the $133 million in later years? Again, either raise taxes or go hat in hand back to Washington while costing Missouri jobs.

This is an example of how the federal government is willing to bribe states to expand welfare systems making more and more people dependent on government thereby consolidating more and more power in Washington, inhibiting our ability as a state to chart our own future, and further erode our Liberty.

The Republican House and Senate remain cautious and skeptical about the federal dependency package and will continue to do our due diligence.

By contrast, Governor Nixon through all caution to the wind last Sunday on C-SPAN when responding to the Republican concerns stating, “Missourian’s paid their taxes and if there’s a debt, Missouri’s kids and grandkids will pay that debt off. We are here to take the money…” I have always contended that federal monies to an elected official is like crack cocaine – its fairly easy to get and becomes habit forming instantaneously.

As I have stated before, we will not balance our state budget on monies that may or may not come in the mail - we refuse to rely on a federal welfare check to meet the needs of our state. It may be considered good politics by some, but it is lousy fiscal policy. We can’t allow the federal “stimulus” to lead us down the path to ever more federal dependency. This is a time for restraint, a time to prioritize, and a time to drive efficiencies into the state bureaucracy.

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