The Indianapolis Star’s July 21 investigation of a contractor hired by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to select companies to receive taxpayer handouts is further evidence that a separation of commercial interests and state is needed. For that to happen, however, the states will need to separate themselves from the federal money that perpetuates “crony capitalism.”
There exists in the Department of Commerce an irrelevant Great Society relic called the Economic Development Administration. With a relatively small budget of around $400 million, the EDA acts as a slush fund for Congress to shovel subsidies to their districts for projects that should be funded locally or privately.
This week the Indianapolis Star published an op-ed I wrote on Indiana state government’s reliance on federal funds. I said that “Most Hoosiers would be surprised to know that under [Gov. Mike] Pence’s first budget proposal, federal funds would have accounted for around 35 percent of total state spending.”
When he was a high-ranking conservative Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, Mike Pence was a chief critic of Washington’s out-of-control spending and growing debt. Now that he is Indiana’s governor, Pence is dependent on the same federal largesse that he bemoaned. Most Hoosiers would be surprised to know that under Pence’s first budget proposal, federal funds would have accounted for around 35 percent of total state spending.
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed a farm bill with a projected price tag of $955 billion over ten years. As my colleague Sallie James explains, neither the Senate farm bill nor the House version offer up much in the way of real “reform.” And as Chris Edwards notes, both the Senate and House versions would spend more than the previous farm bill.
A couple of months ago, I cited the example of upgraded Abrams tanks being shoved down the Pentagon’s throat by certain members of Congress because tank production = jobs back in the district. I followed that up with some historical background on congressional Pentagon pork-barreling that is discussed in former Reagan budget director David Stockman’s new book. Yesterday, a Wall Street Journal article on congressional resistance to reprioritizing military spending provided a new example:
During the House Agriculture Committee’s debate over a new farm bill, Tennessee Republican Stephen Fincher cited 2 Thessalonians 3:10 in defending relatively small cuts in food stamps after Rep. Juan Vargas’s (D-CA) cited Jesus’s call to feed the hungry:
Debate on the House Agriculture Committee’s version of the next farm bill will begin in the Republican-controlled chamber in June. One of the most contentious issues will be spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, a.k.a, food stamps). The House Ag bill would cut SNAP spending by $20.5 billion over 10 years versus the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline. That’s too much for Democrats and it might be too little for conservative Republicans.
Last week, the Senate accepted by unanimous consent an amendment to the pending farm bill that would ban convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (a.k.a. food stamps). Introduced by Louisiana Republican David Vitter, the amendment has received condemnation from the left and at least one round of applause on the right.
Chris Edwards showed that the Internal Revenue Service’s budget has been soaring and the main culprit is refundable tax credits. The magnitude of refundable tax cuts is obfuscated in the IRS’s budget because only the refunded portion of the credit shows up as an outlay —the rest is recorded as a reduction in revenues.