Friday, June 25, 2010

Bringing Home the Bacon

In the first 8 months of FY 2010, the federal government has spent $935 billion more than its revenues. To be clear, that's just the deficit, not the budget. In taxes and other charges, the government has taken in $1.35 trillion this year. Then they spent every nickel of it. Then they added another $935 billion to the tab on credit, which will need to be paid back with interest. And there's still four months left in the fiscal year.

The unabated binging for this year brings the total national debt to a tidy $13 trillion and counting. (And lets not even talk about the long term government entitlement commitments of an estimated $130 trillion).

There are many signs that this unprecedented and, according to some government spending experts, unsustainable levels of debt now being incurred is of great concern to the voters. The burgeoning tea party movement, polls showing that debt and government spending are among the top concerns, polls showing ideological and party identification turning away from the status quo, and most tellingly, long-term incumbents identified with irresponsible fiscal management getting bounced left and right in early elections.

A rather sobering set of events for any elected government official. Especially for those who have made a career out of proudly redistributing tax payers' money to favored special interests.

So how do our local politicians, who are at least in part responsible for running up this debt, respond to the approaching onslaught of financial and electoral turmoil? Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

From the Star Tribune, an announcement of a very special event to be held Saturday morning:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will join three Minnesotans in Congress on Saturday in St. Paul for a tour of the Union Depot, a transportation project that has been awarded $35 million in stimulus funds.

Pelosi is visiting a major St. Paul project that civic leaders hope will be a boon to the struggling downtown area. The San Francisco Democrat is appearing at the potential transit hub with DFL Reps. Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and Jim Oberstar, who is chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Yes, voters we are sticking you and your children (grandchildren, great grand children, etc) with unsustainable debt that threatens to significantly lower the quality of life in this country for generations. But look what we brung ya! A potential transit hub!

It's interesting to note that this federal money was earmarked as a part of the "stimulus" bill. That is, a way to stimulate the economy out of the economic recession occurring in 2009 and 2010. From MPR, the timeline on this vital project:

A news release sent by McCollum's office says the Union Depot will service Amtrak, local and interstate buses (2012), and the Central Corridor (2014). This project will also accommodate future intercity, commuter, and high speed rail services to Chicago.

A minimum of two to four more years before any benefit is realized. (And if I'm not mistaken, nobody has even broken ground on this project yet.) We didn't get much stimulus bang for those 35 million bucks, did we? We'll, maybe Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, and Jim Oberstar will get lucky and the economy will still need stimulus in 2012 and they can proudly point to this again.

I suspect McCollum, Ellison, and Oberstar are only agreeing to be seen in public with Nancy Pelosi because they take for granted that they have safe seats. (Where's Tim Waltz? And why not invite Tarryl Clark to link arms and march with Pelosi and let people in CD6 know exactly what they could have representing them in DC). These three assume people in their districts will gratefully lap up this publicity stunt for more government. $13 trillion in public debt? Thank you sir, can I have $35 million more!?

It would be nice to think that even the voters in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the Iron Range have some self-respect and will wake up long enough to turn at least one of these people out. Time will tell.