« Repeal the 17th Amendment? | Main | Space Oddities »

February 23, 2009

Comments

Jack Balkin makes a very nice case on how the governors' refusal of federal funds actually shows that the practice of conditional federal funding for the states is constitutional. So, if you wish to support "states' rights", you should accept federal funding, claiming you have no option. :-)

"The field of presidential candidates has decided that the GOP primary voters are so rigidly ideological that the candidates feel both the need, and the freedom, to sacrifice their own citizens’ well-being for the sake of ideological purity."

Isn't it also possible that, well... they're being ideologically pure because they believe said ideology is actually correct? I mean, presumably there's a reason these guys are Republicans, right?

I'm not defending them here, just saying that it may be less sinister than 'sacrificing their citizens well-being' in order to insulate themselves from political attack. Some of these guys might actually just be dumb and wrong.

A guy with a mask drove up and handed me a sack of stolen cash. I didn't take it. It was dirty money.

Wall Street and Banking CEOs got a cut of the profits from selling bad mortgage backed securities. They accepted the sack, so to speak. The fact that the public, congress, and president are talking about taking their dirty profits back kind of messes up the analogy though - don't you think?

Liberal Spender ideology: Get money by any means possible. Period. End of story.

"A guy with a mask drove up and handed me a sack of stolen cash. I didn't take it took only 98.7% of it. It was dirty money."

In Jindal's case, at least.

d'd'd'dave...damn stupid analogy buddy.

I thought the materialist basis for refusing the money was quite straightforward: (Explicitly stated, too!) The stimulus offers a temporary boost in state resources in return for an effectively permanent increase in state expenses: The states are being invited to either bankrupt themselves, or make themselves utterly dependent on further federal handouts.

You'd have to be a pretty short sighted materialist to embrace a bargain like that. Only reason any of the states are taking it is that being short sighted is SOP for most politicians, who thought "Apres moi le deluge” was good advice for people with vested retirements.

Anyway, I'm glad there are some constants in the universe, and your attributing the worst possible motives to the opposite party is one of them. Don't ever change, you're my Pole star in that regard.

See, what our stuttering friend doesn't underderstand is that taxation isn't theft.

Property is theft; taxation is restitution.

dave forgot, in his analogy, to include the fact that the guy being offered the bag of cash is, himself, engaged in a robbery at the time. Unless he's thinking of the governors from the magical states that don't collect any taxes in any forms.

The stimulus offers a temporary boost in state resources in return for an effectively permanent increase in state expenses

Except that this is incorrect.

You do realize that the very concept of "theft" is based on "property", such that if you reject the legitimacy of property, "theft" loses all meaning?

You can't steal something that isn't owned.

I think what you really mean is, "The government owns everything." That's at least a coherent belief, albeit really ugly.

"You do realize that the very concept of "theft" is based on "property", such that if you reject the legitimacy of property, "theft" loses all meaning?"

Usually people of this sort make distinctions between property and possessions. Rather hair splitting but not completely idiotic...

"Except that this is incorrect."

No, I don't think so. Spending money creates a constituency for continuing to spend the money, it's much more difficult to cut spending after a spending spree than it is to just not go on the spending spree. But even if it were wrong, it DOES happen to be the explicit rationale for refusing the money. It's not like they were shy about explaining their motives.

I'd be quite happy with Publius arguing that Republicans are wrong occasionally, rather than simply evil.

1. Assume Republican (Democratic) policies will have bad effects.
2. Assume Republicans (Democrats) favor those policies because of those bad effects. Ignore any other explanation they give for their choices.

Therefore:

Republicans (Democrats) are evil.

Publius reminds me of some Republicans, who think Democrats favor policies that create a lot of dependency on government because they LIKE people being dependent. Assuming that the opposition agrees with you that their policies are bad, and pursues them for that very reason.

Now, I tend to think that most politicians of both parties are at least sociopaths, but even sociopaths aren't cartoon villains, they don't chose evil because it's evil, but instead because it's a category they're blind to. Calling them evil is like blaming a dog for being color blind.

Speaking of ugly, when civil unrest begins among the unemployed, mortgage-defaulted poor who have no other resource but violence, I challenge the well-fed Haley Barbour to go among them and explain his refusal of additional unemployment insurance funds from the Federal Government.

His request, at that moment, for Federal troops to protect his butt should be denied. In fact, President Obama should recall National Guard troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to be airlifted to Barbour's state to arrest him and his family, for their own sorry protection.

If Barbour deploys his National Guard troops to butcher the unpropertied poor, President Obama should send the military in to face them off with all means necessary.

Maybe Barbour can find a hidey-hole, like Saddam.

When does Barbour return the hurricane Katrina money he stole from me?

The Republican Party is a sociopath.

I'm all for property-rights, but I'm under no illusion about the degree to which I'm "dependent" on the Government to protect my property rights.

It's we property owners, Brett, who are the dependents.

I find myself coming down on Brett's side on this one. Quelle horreur! While the governors might in fact be evil and self-serving, their stated cautions seem plausible to me. Starting new programs and creating new constituencies is always easy, but oft times very difficult to end. We may or may not agree, but I think it uncharitable to automatically ascribe the worst motivations to them.

As for the government owning everything - since they have at least a theoretical monopoly on violence, they in that sense do. If the government says you don't own something, then for all practical purposes you don't. As unpleasant as this may be, I don't see any feasible alternative, at least not for a modern liberal democracy.

If that's the way the conservative governors want to play it, then that's the way they should play it. They can answer to the folks in their state.

I don't mind my tax dollars being used to help folks in LA, MS, or wherever, but I'm also not going to force anyone to participate.

If they're afraid of the federal boogeyman and his sacks of filthy lucre, let them be. Just as long as they stay the hell out of other folks' business.

Liberal Spender ideology: Get money by any means possible.

Next time it pisses you off when someone in your head calls you a "selfish conservative" you can remember your words here.

It's all show, of course, since I'm sure these governors know full well that even if they refuse the stimulus money, their legislatures can easily go over their heads to get it--see http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/19/lawmakers-can-defy-governors-to-get-the-stimulus-money/

The Republican governors get to be all high and mighty and refuse the stimulus, thus appealing to their ideological electorate, and they still get the money if their legistlatures can muster a simple majority in both houses.

Murc and Bellmore state my views. Before you assume the worst, it strikes me that you first have to take these governors stated objections at their face and show either:

(1) their objections are not merely wrong, but so clearly wrong that they can only be a pretext for something else; or

(2) the governors don't actually believe what their saying.

brett -- your general point is always worth keeping in mind, and it keeps me honest.

but, i don't think it applies here. I'm criticizing the GOP ideology (not of 100% obviously, but of median voter) b/c the ideology is in a very bad place right now.

von and bartlett and others can raise all sorts of reasoned objections - the stimulus isn't perfect. but that's not what we got. even bartlett admits (echoed by Frum, others) that the GOP arguments on tv were Mickey Mouse ridiculousness. The debate was governed purely by ideology for them

And i'm sorry, but refusing already-authorized federal unemployment benefits is just cruel. i'm not saying states have to accept everything, but there is no - nada, none -- reasoned basis to refuse money to help poor people whne your refusal won't accomplish anything. It's strictly presidential politics -- and their political antennae reflect that the median GOP voter is blinded by ideology.

"since they have at least a theoretical monopoly on violence"

Not in this country, it doesn't. The Weberian definition of the state is, IMO, exactly the sort of thing the founders were trying to get away from with their "new order for the ages", and it's reimportation from Europe was a nasty turn in American poltical philosophy.

but so clearly wrong that they can only be a pretext for something else

von - don't you think it's a bit well, interesting, that all the actual refusers are potential 2012 candidates? have you seen anyone else refuse money. come on - of course it's a pretext.

you first have to take these governors stated objections at their face and show either:

(1) their objections are not merely wrong, but so clearly wrong that they can only be a pretext for something else; or

(2) the governors don't actually believe what their saying.

I think #1 is clearly met. Jindal concedes that the expanded unemployment benefits will be funded by the stimulus for three years. Once the federal money runs out LA can repeal the expanded benefits.

Will that be hard to do, because there will be a constituency for the benefits? Maybe. So what? There will be a constituency for repeal also. Let them fight it out when the time comes. Right now Jindal is pointlessly harming some of his worst off citizens to avoid letting the voters decide whether to keep the expanded benefits a few years from now.

That can't be justified.

Question: Why don't these same governors reject federal defense contracts for businesses within their states, for example? They create a constituency that will cause greater future federal taxation. Their stimulus to the local economy is probably less significant dollar for dollar than relief for unemployed workers. Why is this ideologically different?

von - don't you think it's a bit well, interesting, that all the actual refusers are potential 2012 candidates? have you seen anyone else refuse money. come on - of course it's a pretext.

No, not at all. Assuming that political concerns stiffened the spines of these governors, there's no evidence that it stiffened them to do evil. It's difficult to turn down a short fix that everyone is clamoring for because you believe that your state would be better off in the long run without it (one basis on which these governors would defend their choices).

I think #1 is clearly met. Jindal concedes that the expanded unemployment benefits will be funded by the stimulus for three years. Once the federal money runs out LA can repeal the expanded benefits.

I don't think that it's as easy as you posit. Unemployment insurance is funded by businesses. (There's generally a flat, and quite regressive, tax paid by businesses on the first X of income.) According to Jindal, the federal funds require changes in the funding rules in LA in order for LA to accept them. That is, the funds come with strings. This is Jindal's statement, in part:

“The federal money in this bill will run out in less than three years for this benefit and our businesses would then be stuck paying the bill,” Jindal said. “We must be careful and thoughtful as we examine all the strings attached to the funding in this package. We cannot grow government in an unsustainable way.”

If Jindal is making up the part about rule changes and the additional benefits are fully paid for by the federal government with no strings attached, that's one thing. I'm (thankfully) no expert in either the funding or receipt of unemployment insurance. Jindal's comments, however, are in line with how I understand unemployment insurance to operate and at least seem plausible. And Jindal is turning down only a fraction of the total package for LA.

Look, I know very little about u.i. and less about LA's u.i. program. Nor have I read through the bill to determine what strings are attached to which provisions, or how that might impact LA. I don't know whether Jindal is being brave or stupid here. Before I rule out both brave and stupid and settle on evil, however, I need to know enough to actually rule out brave and stupid. As should everyone, including you and Publius.

I read the Jack Balken piece referenced in the initial comment. The last section discusses what it means for a state to consent to the federal conditions attached to a state's acceptance of federal funding. It appears that if any of the states involved in this refusal of its governor to accept specific funding require the governor to consent in order for the federal conditions to take effect, then those states can have their cake and eat it too by having the governor not consent but the legislature takes the funds anyway.

GoodOleBoy, although I think I see what you're getting at, that's not Balkin's point. Balkin's point is that the "consent" part of the stimulus package may be constitutional as to some states and unconsistitutional as to others. It has nothing to do with Jindal's argument, which is that however the funding is accepted, it (purportedly) comes with strings attached.

My guess is that your point is that the Governor can refuse the funds, the state accept them, and then when the Feds try to enforce the strings, the State says "nyah, nyah, we never accepted the funds because the stimulus package acceptance provision is unconsistutional" .... an argument that, if successful, might require the state to disgorge the funds it previously accepted. That seems to be a high-risk, low-reward course of action, but, even if LA is playing that game, it starts with Jindal refusing the funds.

von,

As I understand it, there do need to be changes in the state's unemployment insurance laws, but the additional costs involved will be borne by the federal government, not business, for about three years. I got that here, and it seems to be confirmed by the Jindal statement you quote.

When the federal money runs out, LA could repeal the changes. Might that be hard? Maybe, but not if the state really doesn't want business to have to pay the insurance then. State legislatures are wise and just, after all. Just ask George Will.

"Question: Why don't these same governors reject federal defense contracts for businesses within their states, for example?"

Federal defense contracts do create a constitutency for continued spending, but it's continued federal spending. Nobody would reasonably expect, if the feds canceled a weapons program, that state voters would pressure their government to pick up the cost. The same can't be said if the federal government temporarilly foots the bill for state level spending.

d'd'd: "The fact that the public, congress, and president are talking about taking their dirty profits back "

Profits? What profits?

I like how a lot of defenders of the refusal (including Jindal but not necessarily anyone on this post because I don't know) backed massive tax cuts when times were good despite people saying that surpluses are needed for when times get bad and it'd be tough to roll them back. Apparently the "too tough to repeal" only applies to government programs, although I personally think it's much harder to raise taxes than change unemployment benefits.

Maybe if Jindal didn't push for massive tax cuts -- in the face of what his budget office wanted -- then they would be able to temporarily expand unemployment on their own terms.

I'd be surprised if the rejection of money matches a principled conservative ideology held by constutents of the various states whose governors plan to reject (some ) of the money.

It is more likely that the governors and the constituents are on the same page in that they don't have a principled conservative philosohy, only the usual "waht's good for me is good" type of conserevative philosophy.

The money which is accepted is money that will go to those who usually vote Republican accompanied by a lot of rhetoric which doesn't match the reality of action.. Hence Jindla's principled acceptance of most of the money while rejecting that money which targets likely Dem voters. Now he can posture before the people who will benefit from the stim as anti-stim. This is really no different than the big speeches typically made by red state pols about being against taxes, for a balanced budget and against pork barrel spending which are frequently delivered to red state audiences which live in economies which would evaproate if their Republican politicans voted according to their rhetoric.

When parasitic red states stop being sinks for federal taxes mined from blue state voters, then red staters will be able to talk about principled conservatism.

Did any of these governors reject any of Bush's federal spending measures when he was racking up a much bigger deficit than Obama?

Any? Once?

. . . these jokers are happy to play Abraham to their constituents’ Isaac.

Nice analogy --- except, of course, for the fact that Abraham stopped before he actually killed Isaac.

For heavens sake. There are all sorts of reasonable debates about the Stimulus Bill, about the basic idea but especially almost limitless room for debate about the particular package of spending and tax cuts that was arrived at.
But increased length of unemployment benefits for the (by definition) working people cast adrift and striving to find renewed employment in the middle of a massive economic downturn? That's where they'll draw the line? The most obviously deserving among the people suffering the consequences of a credit market few of them even knew about?
Now, if these Governors wanted to denounce particular spending programs or tax cuts, or to declare their state will seek not to spend available infrastructure money, that might have a sound philosophical basis; but unemployment benefits?

Bernard, I'm not sure how easy it would be to repeal these measures as a practical or political matter. As I understand it from your link (and also Jindal's press release, which is accessible via your link*), the US government is requiring a tax increase, but providing certain funds to be used as first dollars in. When those funds run out, the tax increase remains. But the funds can run out before the obligation to pay insureds runs out, which would make it impossible for LA to repeal the tax as you propose. At least, that's how I understand critics when they talk about bankrupting the i.u. system and a lack of fiscal sustainability.

Jindal is accepting the $25/week in addition u.i. benefits offered as part of the stimulus package, which Jindal describes as fully funded.

I also think that you're asking Jindal to accept a deal that you'd never accept if the regulations that were going to be changed were near and dear to your heart. Would you accept temporary dollars in exchange for a permanent regulatory change on some issue that you hold dear, on the theory that you can always convince another legislature to repeal the permanent change? Or would you make the same arguments that Jindal is making? Heck, some Democrats won't even consiser the opposite w/r/t a cut in the payroll tax: They argue that even a temporary cut in the payroll tax, though stimulative, is too risky because it may lead to permanent cuts in SS. Although I disagree with this perspective, I don't think those Democrats who make such an argument are evil. Just wrongheaded.

Again, maybe LA's u.i. program is terrible and should be reformed, or maybe Jindal is overstating the long-term price of change. His decision to reject temporary dollars because they're tied to a permanet change, however, still seems at least a plausible argument to me.

*http://www.gov.state.la.us/index.cfm?md=newsroom&tmp=detail&catID=2&articleID=1016&navID=3

von: His decision to reject temporary dollars because they're tied to a permanet change, however, still seems at least a plausible argument to me.

I don't actually know this, so could someone clarify for me: is it the case that the only (temporary) federal monies being offered to LA that are tied to a permanent change are, in fact, the unemployment benefits? That seems extraordinarily unlikely to me, which is why I'm personally unconvinced by the GOP governors' obvious grandstanding.

C.S.: Nice analogy --- except, of course, for the fact that Abraham stopped before he actually killed Isaac.

Not according to Wilfred Owen.

Unemployed Louisianians & South Carolinians nailed to a cross of primary politics....

...One doesn't often get a moment to sound Bryanesque....

is it the case that the only (temporary) federal monies being offered to LA that are tied to a permanent change are, in fact, the unemployment benefits?

To do an apples-to-apples comparison, we'd need to find another case of temporary dollars offered to LA to effect a permanent change, where Jindal disapproves of the permanent chance.

Before we can do that apples-to-apples comparison, we need to identify the strict superset of cases where the temporary dollars offered to LA to effect permanent change. Which is what I was asking for in the previous post.

I'm with Warren -- unemployment benefits, really? Isn't the point of providing extra unemployment benefits because we're in an extraordinary time? Presumably when the economy turns around, there won't be the need for suped-up unemployment benefits? Especially when organizations like Moody.com point out the most beneficial economic stimulus is unemployment benefits?

von,

Reasonable points. Still,

1. You don't actually have to fight for a repeal later. You can include sunset provisions in the law you pass today.

2. It's not exactly going to be a giant burden even if it stays in place. Jindal's press release talks about a future cost of $12 million/yr. That's less than six dollars a year -fifty cents a month - per worker in the state. And that's unemployment insurance, remember. It's not going into some black hole. It's used to pay unemployment benefits. And since lots of people like to argue that even the employer's share of FICA is paid by the worker, maybe the six bucks is also.

3. On the face of it, turning down nearly $100 million in federal benefits to avoid, maybe, having to increase the cost of unemployment insurance by $12 million a year three years from now, is just irrational.

So I guess I still think your condition number one is met.

On the question of brave, stupid or evil, I think you have to look at Jindal's actions in the light of California Republicans. For them, it was clearly ideology first, to the point of shunning the three R's who voted for a (gasp!) tax increase (after massive cuts had been made). Think any of them will refuse state funds in their district? Not for projects that help the upper classes. But I think Orange County should have its Cal-Trans funds gutted.

That's a change they can believe in.

Here is my brilliant theory:

Jindal and Sanford are taking the opportunity to Make A Very Big Point.

The fact that it will cause folks in their states to undergo significant material suffering doesn't appear to enter into their thinking on the topic.

My suggestion to the folks in LA and SC is to recall their sorry behinds. Throw them the hell out. Tar, feathers, and a rail. They will get the message.

In the meantime, please send the money to my state. We'll be happy to have it, and will put it to very good use.

In fact, since the state I live in historically sends more money to the feds than we get back, anything the feds do for our economy will probably make them money back.

I call that a good investment.

Profits? What profits?

Two steps after the underpants are collected.

Alabama's governor is tentatively planning to decline part of the unemployment compensation, amounting to about $66M out of
$300M+ on the grounds that this portion is
federally designated for part time workers,
which are not currently covered in Alabama.
The 4 yr expiry of this portion puts Al employers on the hook for $17M per year increased costs for UIC coverage after the
4yr time frame. Other provisos in the fed
bill require states to give UIC to workers who stop working for family violence or illness, workers who enroll in approved job training, who work in low pay jobs below the
threshold of income and mandate in increase in UIC for workers with dependents over those without dependents. Not all of these are mandated, pick 2 of the 5. $17M doesn't
sound like much in a $6B budget, but a million here, million there, and eventually
you look like California. Any one who knows
state or fed politics knows it is very hard
to shut down a running program after 3-4yrs.
Al state budget has ballooned from $4.5B to
$6.5B in 4 years.

Publius, you should have figured out by now that materialism is itself an ideological position...
Maybe that is what certain Republican voters are angry about.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad