It is no secret that a substantial number of Americans are fed up with the federal government and its gross fiscal irresponsibility. Yet the first line of defense against such irresponsibility is not the people themselves. Perhaps it is time for individual states to step up to the plate and deliver a clear message to Congress and the White House: we will not allow you to drive us into bankruptcy.
This is not to say that states haven’t been equally irresponsible with taxpayer money. It’s virtually impossible to find a government in the country–at any level–which hasn’t fattened itself beyond the limits of population growth and inflation. But what many states are now facing is the abyss: federal spending mandates–absent federal expenditures covering the total costs of such mandates–are putting states on the verge of insolvency.
No one knows this better than Democrat Senator Ben “Big Bribe” Nelson of Nebraska. His deciding vote in favor of the heath care monstrosity was bought with a lifetime exemption from the costs the other 49 states will be forced to underwrite if this bill becomes law. Big Ben knows those costs are literally budget-busters, because the feds pay only half of them, no matter how huge they become.
Is there a governor or two–or ten–with big enough cojones to tell Congress, “take this blob and shove it?” Or will we see a parade of state chief execs take the “Schwarzenegger Approach:” begging the feds for funds to make ends meet?
Hint for Ahnold and all the other Governators: if you don’t send the money to that black hole in Washington, D.C. in the first place, you don’t have to beg to get it back later.
Impossible? Every revolution looks impossible on paper. Who would have bet on a bunch of ragtag American colonists taking down the British Empire in 1776? Has every American politician forgotten the hearty stock from which we have descended? Have people gotten so used to associating the word “government” with the word “federal” that they no longer understand we are a confederation of fifty separate constituencies with rights that transcend federal interference?
America is 12 trillion dollars in the hole with no end in sight. If Obama and company insist steering the Titanic of State into the iceberg of bankruptcy, where is it written that each and every one of the states must go down with the ship? Which clause of the Constitution requires a state to commit fiscal suicide? And, assuming the worst, that our progressive/socialist Congress finds an in-the-tank judge who deems such “implications emanate from a living Constitution,” how does Nebraska get a free pass?
2009 saw the emergence of a phenomenon known as the Tea Party Movement. Any politician who thinks this ongoing blowback against liberal arrogance and irresponsibility is insignificant is in a coma. Is there a single state governor shrewd enough to recognize that these Americans are one leader away from being a formidable force for real hope and real change?
This is a column directed primarily at fifty state leaders. Is anyone listening?
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