Don Surber, a blogge…
Don Surber, a blogger who linked to this post on Stones Cry Out, has made a good point about the Coburn amendments.

The idea of cutting the fat in the federal budget to pay for hurricane relief is admirable. But bloggers and the senator are going after the wrong cuts. They are going after federal highways spending.

This is not general fund money — this is federal highways money. It comes from gasoline taxes. We went through this in the Clinton administration. The public does not want its gasoline taxes to be spent on non-transportation purposes.

Yes, cut the pork. But this money was collected to make the highways safer. The showboaters should be forced to never, ever drive on a federal highway again or to use the DC Metro or any other public transportation supported by gasoline taxes.

Now, I’m as much for cutting the pork as the next conservative, but Don’s observation has merit. Bad behavior by senators notwithstanding, are we now declaring that any and all money the feds collect should be considered one big slush fund?

It’s possible that, with the speed of change these days, we’re expecting that problems should be fixed immediately, and that the behemoth that is the Federal Government should be able to turn on a dime. But ships of state can’t just do that, and in this case perhaps they shouldn’t. This is a much larger issue that one bill’s pork and it needs to be dealt with in that manner. If we want all the rules broken because we want results now, we’re deliberately invoking the Law of Unintended Consequences.

The long-term answer to this is to cut the amount of money going to the federal government as a whole. Then you’d have less pork overall; not just in transportation bills. A smaller federal government in general may not bring the Kos folks on board as much as they were for the Coburn amendment, but it’s the right way and the responsible way to do it. Fiscal responsibility isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to a specific situation that invites abuse in the future. Instead, it’s a policy and a philosophy that needs to be implemented in all areas of government.

If nothing else, I think the Coburn amendments were extremely useful for getting the issue on the table. Again, hissy fits by senators from Alaska notwithstanding, a vote to kill the Coburn amendments shouldn’t necessarily be read as a vote against fiscal responsibility. But now that the issue is at the fore, it needs to be pushed, and pushed hard, without tearing down the checks and balances within government.

(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)

Filed under: Uncategorized

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!