It’s the Spending Stupid!by Stephen Littau
In the immediate wake of the bridge collapse in Minnesota, politicians (mostly Democrats) have advocated raising taxes to repair or replace other structurally deficient bridges throughout the country. Apparently, there just isn’t enough money in the treasury at this time to repair these bridges. Why am I skeptical that this is not the case?
Assuming for a moment that constructing and maintaining bridges and highways is a legitimate role of the federal government, it’s hard for me to believe that the treasury department cannot find the funds to repair highways, bridges, and infrastructure. Yet this same government can still find enough of our money to fund such things as the arts, public radio, public television, museums, midnight basketball, Amtrak, Americorps, subsidies, the war on (some) drugs* and a seemingly endless laundry list of other government programs and initiatives which go well beyond the scope of the federal government as defined in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
I have found Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) an invaluable resource when it comes to determining whether or not the government can demand more of our tax dollars. The CAGW website did not disappoint. As it turns out, my suspicions were correct: the treasury does have enough funds to repair the bridges and highways without raising taxes and still have plenty left over. What I found in this article was especially interesting:
The Federal Real Property Profile (FRPP) was created by the Bush administration in order to help federal agencies manage and dispose of their surfeit property. So far, the FRPP shows that the government owns and leases 3.87 billion square feet of property, and 55.7 million acres of land. Real property asset value for all these holdings is estimated to be $1.2 trillion.
One startling example of the government’s wasteful holdings is Chicago’s Old Main Post Office. This 2.5 million-square-foot unused structure has been vacant since 1997 and costs $2 million to maintain annually, yet the government continues to hold on to it at taxpayers’ expense.
That’s $1.2 trillion that could be put towards repairing the bridges or other priorities such as improving the VA hospitals, paying down the national debt, or Constitutional functions the government is actually supposed to fund. While $20 million over 10 years to keep this post office is small potatoes to our government, it’s not an insignificant amount to the taxpayer. How many families could have put their children in private schools, purchased their own health insurance, made a down payment on a home, or invested in their futures had their share not been taken at gunpoint to fund this wasteful spending?
And this is only one of many examples of wasteful spending of our money folks. Maybe when our elected officials decide to eliminate the pork, the waste, fraud, and the abuse, and if the government still needs more money to support the Constitutional functions of government, I’ll be receptive to the idea of them taking more of our money. Until that day comes, the idea of raising taxes is a complete non-starter.
*CAGW estimates that by cutting the White House’s National Youth Anti-drug Media Campaign out of the budget would save the taxpayer $512 million over the next 5 years. This is only a small portion of what is allocated to continue to fight this losing war on (some) drugs.