Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Here come the unfunded mandates.

Once again, we find ourselves heading down the road paved with good intentions, and only now are seeing the flames that surround it. Yes, I'm talking about feel-good, politically charged entitlement programs which do nothing but break the bank and get foisted upon the states as an unfunded mandate when its discovered that there's no money to pay for them. Yes, I'm talking about the Medicare prescription drug fiasco and how the states are reacting to it.

Thanks to this year's hurricane season, the folks on the Hill are spending money faster than drunken sailors on a 48-hour liberty (my apologies to the drunken sailors). However, unlike the sailors, they don't stop when the money runs out; instead thet keep spending until they're satisfied and the budget is broken. Well, at some point all these expenitures are going to collide in a fiscal train wreck. Combine these three programs: Medicare Prescription, FY 2006 Highway Funding and hurricane relief, and what do you get? A mess of extreme magnitude that we can't afford.

And, of course, suddenly the Beltway folks are having a fiscally conservative revelation that they're spending too much so they're going to try and carve off some fat, and this leads to statements that our government is operating more efficiently than in the poast and that there's no more to cut. Huh??? Obviously these folks never took or passed any basic economics course in their educational careers since they can't even do basic math!

Instead, what they've (both the administration and the Congress) done is to unleash a tidal wave of socialist style programs that will make FDR & LBJ look like small potatoes when its all done. And to pay for all this, they're going to change many of them into unfunded mandates to the states so that the states have to pay for everything out of their own pockets. This will push the states even futher into the abyss, since most states are constitutionally required to balance their budgets annually. Because of this, many states are protesting the Medicare program since its the most visible and will have the biggest impact on thier budgets starting next year. Unfortunately, this is all falling on deaf ears in Congress and the White House since they're more concerned about making 30-second sound-bites and looking like heroes than actually adhereing to the fiscally conservative values that they were elected on.

And to top this all off, they haven't passed the FY 2006 Federal budget yet, so they're operating on a continuing resolution until they figure out how to fund all this! They can't even fund the operating budgets of such things as the military and Congress because they're trying to figure out how to fund all these new socialist entitlement & welfare programs.

My view on these matters is this: states should be allowed to keep thier road money for thier own use; run and fund their own medical subsidy programs if they wish; and private industry should determine how to rebuild the hurricane disaster areas with minimal state and no federal intervention. Unfortunately, the DC folks are too busy spending our money to grab the spotlight and look like the good guys.