Dissolution of the governors association is no
By Jill S. Farrell
web posted November 10, 2003
Some members of the conservative movement are calling for the dissolution
of the National Governors Association because the governors are asking for
more federal aid. The $20 billion bailout given last May, by any standard,
is a great deal of money. A couple of weeks ago the Governors were back in
Washington asking for more. That is certainly a problem, but dissolution
is not necessarily the answer. The Feds are, in effect, telling governors
across the country to "do as I say, not as I do."
Just last month Arnold Schwarzenegger swooped into town saying, "I
came basically to Washington to establish relationships and to make sure
that we are getting more federal money to California, as I promised in my
A very intelligent, liberal-leaning acquaintance of mine made the following
observation: "Here comes Arnold sweeping through town to call, yet again,
for more federal aid for California, and as far as I can tell from reading
the papers, not a single fiscal conservative has stood up to say no. Why
is it apparently okay for a Republican movie star to beseech Washington for
aid, when it wasn't okay for the National Governors Association or proven
conservatives like Dirk Kempthorne? What happened to the principle?"
Regarding California: by and large we totally agree. This does raise legitimate
However, California should receive additional funds -- to cope with the
raging fires and not due to their raging irresponsible spending. Whatever
Federal assistance California receives should be earmarked for specific
disaster-related projects and not handed over blindly.
While the states are saddled are several un-funded Federal mandates, nearly
all of their problems are of their own making. Most of the governors have
never seen a new project they didn't like or an old one that they didn't
want to give a boost. The real root of the problem? No self-restraint either
on the part of the Governors or the governed.
During the go-go 90's, tax revenue was up, up, up! Government spending
had to try very hard to squeeze all the juicy gains dry. But they did.
And when the drought hit, no one was prepared to "do without." The
piglets and the old pork were protected equally.
That behavior really does defy common sense. When times are tough, everyone
must make adjustments. To do otherwise is to live in a dream world and
to invite reality to come burning in like the Santa Ana winds. The states
and the Feds are living on a massive credit card and the bills will come
due. Some of our creditors (China owns about 20% of our national debt)
will enjoy watching and may even fan the flames.
The states and the Feds still have the opportunity to make sensible corrections
that may be uncomfortable but will avert a natural economic disaster such
as history has rarely seen. That is why the Free Congress Foundation believes
that a measure like the Commission on the Accountability and Review of
Federal Agencies Act (CARFA) -- at least on the Federal level
-- is so essential. It is not a cure-all, but it is an important beginning.
Possibly states could design their own CARFA-esque commissions. Like the
BRAC base-closing commissions, the Brownback-Tiahrt CARFA commission gives
everyone arms-length protection from disgruntled voters who like (or do
not fully grasp the implications of) things the way they are now.
The family car has broken down. It is time for everyone to get out and
Jill S. Farrell is Director of Communications for the Free
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