In the previous post, Goldy speculates about federal money flowing to the states as part of a broader spending package, and specifically about whether Gov. Chris Gregoire is headed to D.C. to advocate for such spending. The answer surely is: maybe!
At Political Buzz, Joe Turner wonders if we will see a return to revenue sharing, where the feds don’t put strings on things.
When I started covering Pierce County government in 1981, cities and counties were still getting no-strings-attached money from Uncle Sam. According to Wikipedia, revenue sharing existed from 1972 (the last bad recession) until 1987. It lost favor under President Reagan.
But it appears to be making a comeback, and Washington state workers no doubt will rejoice if it does. Basically, the federal government gives cities, counties and states money to pretty much what they please. That means Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Legislature could head off some of those layoffs that probably are in their future.
I watched Obama’s press conference this morning; there are not a lot of details yet. Basically the message seems to be “if it works, great, if it doesn’t work, it’s gone.” Another point seemed to be that spending at the state level is fine, but it has to be part of a national economic game plan.
So I’m expecting Obama’s team to come up with plans to get money out to the states, but not necessarily without strings. I’m just guessing, but increasing block grants might be another way to go. A short term aid package for states to cover existing shortfalls would make sense, however. There’s really no sense in heightening unemployment misery by ignoring what’s happening at the state and local level.
There’s a little bit of a clue about what might happen in this article from Stateline:
Obama didn’t specifically mention states or a dollar-figure in his remarks over the weekend or during his Nov. 24 press conference in which he unveiled his economic team, including New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner as treasury secretary. But before he was elected, Obama called for at least $25 billion in nonspecific state relief and another $25 billion to help states build and fix highways, roads, bridges, airports and rail systems.
Honestly, this is why we want smart, qualified people running the government, instead of anti-intellectual stink tank cretins and talk show hosts. It actually does matter, a lot, what happens next. A good plan might get us through the next few years with a lot of economic pain, but with recovery on the horizon. A bad plan, well, you know. It would be very bad.
We’re all free to raise questions and kick things around, as we should in a democracy, but we need as many good ideas we can get right now. There are still a few conservative voices out there warning about over-spending, and at least that’s a legitimate concern to raise if it’s done in a sincere fashion.
The consensus seems to be we simply must have a large stimulus package, though, and we’ll have to sort out how to pay for it both as we go and in the future.
One thing Obama seemed to be getting at this morning was that wasteful pork will really have to be axed this time. No more cheap talk. You can count on the noise machine to wail mightily if anyone starts pointing out the horrendous inefficiencies in the Defense Department, for example, but as Obama said this morning, every part of the federal budget must be examined.
If the Obama team can focus like a laser beam on getting the most “bang for their stimulus buck,” as they say they are doing, it should help. At this point I could care less if the good ideas come from progressives, moderates, conservatives or little green men from Mars.