Three Republican governors voiced concerns this week over acceptance of a dizzying conglomeration of bailout funding to their states from President Obama’s so-called stimulus bill, which includes a massive array of deadlines, mandates and consequences. Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas and Mark Sanford of South Carolina have all made it clear that they strongly disagree with the Obama plan to saddle taxpayers with an additional $1.2 trillion of federal loan debt and spending that has very little to do with stimulating the economy.
Staffers for all three governors confirmed to HUMAN EVENTS yesterday that their experts are now doing the job Democrats in Congress refused to do and refused to allow Republicans to do before the vote: they are reading the entire 1,100-page “stimulus” spending bill.
I spoke yesterday with Joel Sawyer, Sanford’s communications director. “We have staff going through this bill line by line to see exactly what is there,” Sawyer told me. “We are considering all of our options.” When asked if Sanford would consider giving the people of South Carolina a tax holiday or tax cuts to stimulate the economy with any of the funding, Sawyer said, “We would consider that if it proves legal and allowable. We’re not yet to the point of knowing if that’s an option.”
Sanford took a very public stance last November (“Don’t Bail Out My State“) suggesting a better solution than a bailout would be relief from the $425 million in unfunded federal government mandates South Carolina will have to pay this year. Sanford is seriously considering refusing to accept the funding and its myriad consequences stemming from the vast expansion of state welfare and health care programs with temporary federal dollars.
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) was furious at the possibility of missing out on his cut of the Democrat constituency pork payoffs at taxpayer expense, so he had inserted into the bill what folks inside the Beltway refer to as the “punish Mark Sanford amendment.” As reported in HUMAN EVENTS, this highly-questionable rider would allow for a state legislature to accept the federal funding should a governor reject it, thus overriding state laws and constitutions in manner that probably violates the U.S. Constitution. House Minority Leader John Boehner has requested the non-partisan Congressional Research Service assess the Constitutionality of that provision in the bill.
In Texas, Perry has decided to accept the funds while looking for wiggle room in ways he can spend the estimated $17 billion allotted to Texas. In a letter yesterday to President Obama, Perry gave formal notice that Texas will, in fact, accept the bailout funds while Perry staffers told me they continue to pore over the bill “line by line.”
Perry told the President in his letter he will “use the funds to promote economic growth and create jobs in a fiscally responsible manner that is in the best interest of Texas taxpayers” and that he “remains opposed to using the money to expand existing government programs, burdening the state with ongoing costs long after the federal dollars have dried up.”
I spoke with Jindal’s staffers in Louisiana yesterday who told me the governor’s experts are also plowing through the gargantuan bill “line by line” in an effort to assess the impact to Louisiana taxpayers.
“We’ll have to review each program, each new dollar to make sure that we understand what are the conditions, what are the strings and see whether it’s beneficial for Louisiana to use those dollars,” Jindal told the New Orleans CBS affiliate.
Guidelines for the Bailout Money
The Office of Management and Budget yesterday released its “Initial Implementing Guidance” to agencies, states, contractors and grantees for disbursement of the funding. This “initial” document, in itself, is 62 pages of scintillating reading. This was my favorite part:
“When entering data in FPDS on any action (including modifications) funded by the Recovery Act, agencies must enter the Treasury Account Symbol (TAS) in the Description of Requirement field. The TAS code should be entered with TAS:: preceding the code and ::TAS following the code. The code itself should have spaces between the segments, i.e., Agency code (2 characters) would be entered followed by a space then the Account code (4 characters) followed by a space and then the Subaccount code (3 characters) which is optional and would only be included by those agencies utilizing this segment of the code.”
Who writes this stuff?