Sunday, 23 January 2011

Washington Should Not Bail Out States

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The U.S. Congress seems to love debt, or else our government would not have so much of it. Indeed, our present debt ceiling is $14.3 trillion, and there is a move in the administration to increase that ceiling in order to accommodate Obama’s deficit spending plans. The idea that the federal government can live far beyond its means is part of the liberal philosophy of tax and spend and/or borrow and spend. And unfortunately, Republicans have been as guilty of that sin as Democrats.

While Republicans may not be the initiators of big new federal programs, once they are enacted by liberals, Republicans never seem willing to repeal them. Their aim seems to be to try to administer them more efficiently. That is why after Lyndon Johnson passed all of his Great Society programs, President Nixon, who was elected by a growing conservative backlash, made no attempt to undo any of that liberal expansion of government, which means that Nixon was more a politician than a conservative.

It seems as if the overriding purpose of the Republican Party has been to make all the new laws passed by liberal Democrats more efficiently administered. And that is why conservatives, who want to roll back the liberal tide, have become so frustrated with the Republican Party. 

However, for the first time in modern history, conservatives have taken control of the Republican Party and have actually begun the process of rolling back new liberal-socialist legislation. That is why the conservative move to repeal Obama’s national healthcare law is a giant step in a new direction: the downsizing of the federal government, and the reduction of federal spending.

But now many of the large states are burdened with heavy debt, and since they can’t print money like the federal government, they are looking toward Washington to solve their problems.

Indeed, the leaders of the Libertarian Party in Massachusetts, Michael Cloud and Carla Howell, have sent Republicans in Congress an open letter urging them not to bail out the bankrupt states. They wrote:

We request that all 242 Republican Members of the U.S. House of Representatives pledge to actively oppose and vote against all federal government bailouts for state governments or local governments. They must live within their own means. They must reduce and remove fat and non-essential spending from their budgets. They must seek and find ways to accomplish their essential duties — with lower overhead and less money. Just like private sector businesses.

You must not enable state and local governments to postpone the day of financial reckoning. They have behaved like spending junkies, like money drunks. Now they face detox. Once state and local officials realize that you will not bail them out, they will solve their own spending problems. They will become more responsible and accountable stewards of government.

Speaking of reducing federal spending, I’ve heard no mention of getting rid of the Department of Education, which was created in 1979 by the Carter administration. In the three last years, the ED, as it is called, has spent over $159 billion. That may seem like a piddling sum when compared to expenditures for such entitlements as Medicare and Medicaid, but according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of State Budget Officers and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, states will face deficits of some $350 billion over the next 30 months.

Based on past experience and the depth of this recession, it appears likely that all but a handful of states will face shortfalls in fiscal year 2010 and these deficits will end up totaling about $145 billion. If, as is widely expected, the economy does not begin to significantly recover during the next few years, state deficits are likely to be even larger in state fiscal year 2011 (which began in July 2010 in most states). Shortfalls for fiscal year 2011 could reach as high as $180 billion.

If we calculate that the ED has spent about $35 billion a year since its inception in 1979, a period of 32 years, we get a total expenditure of $1.12 trillion. That’s a lot of money to waste on a department that keeps dumbing down the nation and is hell-bent on establishing national academic standards that the public schools can‘t meet. In other words, over a trillion dollars can be spent in the name of education, but which in reality simply improves the standard of living of members of the education establishment. And there are no complaints from anybody. That’s government corruption 101, a course not taught in any American university.

And what was President George W. Bush’s contribution to all of this? On March 23, 2007, our Republican President signed into law H.R. 584, which designated the ED headquarters building in Washington as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building. And, incidentally, there is no mention of education in the Constitution.

Dr. Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the author of nine books on education including NEA: Trojan Horse in American EducationThe Whole Language/OBE Fraud, and The Victims of Dick & Jane and Other Essays. Of NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education, former U.S. Senator Steve Symms of Idaho said: “Every so often a book is written that can change the thinking of a nation. This book is one of them.” Mr. Blumenfeld’s columns have appeared in such diverse publications as ReasonThe New American,The Chalcedon ReportInsight, Education DigestVital SpeechesWorldNetDaily, and others.