My Brothers and Sisters, I write to you today about a subject that is largely being ignored today, not because it isn’t important, but rather because it is such a frightening issue.
The public debt is the frightening issue that I’m talking about. At the national level, our acknowledged National Debt exceeds TWENTY FOUR TRILLION Dollars. To put that in terms that might be meaningful to each of us, this national debt means that on an individual basis, each man, woman, and child in the US “owes” the creditors who hold the “mortgage” on this nation, a dollar amount approaching $ 40,000 each. Most importantly, however, is that as the risk of our nation defaulting on our debt increases, the nation will lose its social, economic, and political power. The National Debt is a National Security Issue!
Not only is the United States as a nation in terrible financial shape, but many states are also in exceptionally difficult financial circumstances. Why? Terrible fiscal decisions being made at the state level, money being spent with the bills to be paid by future generations. What are the risks? The risk is that the government could default, and not have the money to pay their debts. Think about the School Teacher or State Policeman who wakes up one day to find that they no longer receive their pension check? That is NOT hyperbole. There are multiple states that have failed to fund their public employee’s retirement fund to the minimum level required. The options are: reduce spending, increase taxes or default on the debt obligations.
Let’s look at this problem from a broader view, which states are in the worst financial situation? Today forty of the fifty states are in financial stress. Here is a snapshot of the dozen states who have the highest individual taxpayer share of state debt after all available state assets have been tapped out.
- New Jersey – $ 65,100. (Each taxpayer would owe $ 65,100. if the state cannot pay it’s debt and must default.)
- Illinois – $ 52,600.
- Connecticut – $ 51,800.
- Massachusetts – $ 31,200
- Hawaii – $ 31,200.
- Delaware – $ 27,100.
- Kentucky – $ 29,700.
- California – $ 21,800.
- New York – $ 20,500.
- Vermont – $ 19,000.
- Pennsylvania – $ 17,100.
- Michigan – $ 17,000.
Why do I write on this subject? Especially here, in a “Vets for Trump” forum? President Trump recently tweeted this:
“Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as an example) and cities, in all cases Democrat-run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?”
President Donald J. Trump – April 27, 2020
We could look historically for an answer, but let me quote US Representative (Colonel) Davy Crockett who spoke to Congress on April 2, 1828.
“I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money.”
Rep. (Colonel) David Crockett in the U.S. House of Representatives – April 2, 1828
So, if there is no authority for the Federal government to “bailout” state government, where does relief come from. Of course, with the Federal government being TWENTY FOUR TRILLION dollars in debt, are they even in a financial position to help?
With the recent extraordinary economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress approved emergency pandemic funding, however, NOW the focus is quickly shifting to an escalating battle over whether Congress will provide hundreds of billions of dollars to states staggering under the costs of the pandemic, mounting on top of the already financial problems created by the states themselves.
Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, put states on notice recently when he said he wanted to approach the next round of pandemic legislation more deliberately. He said he was opposed to shipping money to state governments if they were going to apply it to fiscal problems unrelated to the pandemic, such as shoring up underfunded pension plans for public workers.
Therein lies the crux of the President’s comments. Should the Federal government “bailout” the states underfunded pension plans that have nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis?
For clarity on this question, I would refer to the speech made by Representative Davy Crockett in Congress in April of 1828. What do YOU think should be done (if anything)?
When you hear people talk about this “tweet” from President Trump, you’ll know the facts. The media and the opposition party will use the quote to disparage the President, saying things like “He doesn’t care about the “regular folks” who might lose their pension. Please remind those that the taxpayers in any of the fiscally responsible states are not responsible for the irresponsible spending habits of the Illinois (or any other) Legislature!
Finally, I’ll leave you with these words from Thomas Jefferson:
“On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit of the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
― Thomas Jefferson