According to this article in the Washington Post, President Obama is pushing Congress to spend $50 billion in “aid” to state and local governments. Without the bailout, he says, there will be “massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters” and the “still-fragile” economy “recovery” might be hurt. Congress is resisting this additional gout of government spending. Indeed, one of the Democratic leaders in the House says there is “spending fatigue” among our elected representatives. The article suggests that teachers would be the prime beneficiaries of the $50 billion package; earlier President Obama sought $24 billion to help keep 300,000 teachers from being laid off.
How can anyone seriously think that a new $50 billion bailout of states is a good idea? Unless your reflexive response to every economic challenge is for the federal government to provide bail out funds and add still more to the mounting federal deficit, you have to recognize that providing more money to the states is like plying an alcoholic with more liquor. The states are having budget problems because their spending habits have been unsustainable. They need to deal with those problems — as New Jersey’s Governor is trying to do — and not defer the day of reckoning through resort to federal cash. States must assume responsibility for their own budgets and their own budgetary problems, and if they have to lay off state workers, teachers, and others to do so, then so be it.
Talking about “aid” to the States is silly. These aren’t foreign countries that need “aid” to deal with poverty, malnutrition, or health issues, they are rich American states with bloated budgets. They don’t need aid, they need steadfastness, resolve, and a good dose of belt-tightening.