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The Debt Is Beautiful, Big Very Deep, Record Deep!

Previously cut items in the federal budget find their way back by way of Trump’s Big League vocabulistics. 

President Trump went to Grand Rapids, Michigan last night for a campaign rally.

During his speech, Trump discussed his new found love for the Great Lakes.

MLive has the story.

“President Donald Trump promised to fully fund the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative after previously proposing massive cuts to the program in his 2020 budget proposal.”

“Trump’s first three budget proposals as president sought to cut funds by 90 percent, reducing the program to $30 million, but Congress fully funded the initiative through the Environmental Protection Agency. The cuts attracted bipartisan opposition from Michigan lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, who traveled with Trump to a March 28 rally in Grand Rapids.”

“The funds are used to target threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem, including cleaning up toxic substances, blocking invasive species, restoring habitats and reducing the causes of harmful algal blooms. At a packed Van Andel Arena, Trump said he agreed with Michigan lawmakers that funding for should be protected.”

“They’re beautiful,” Trump said of the Great Lakes. “They’re big very deep. Record deep. And I’m going to get in honor of my friends full funding of $300 million dollars for the Great Lakes restoration.”

A feature of Trump’s populism is an unwillingness to kill sacred cows.  Republicans used to run on things like fixing social security, yet Trump vowed to protect it.  In the midterms, republicans who weren’t all that vulnerable took up Trump’s stance on these populist issues. 

Some forms of Trump’s populism are fine; they mesh well with his duty to uphold the constitution.  Others seem like they come from a union democrat.

President Taft vowed to veto anything that he thought was outside of the federal government’s power.  We have reached a point where, as I have described on many occasions, we see policy not in terms of permissible or impermissible in our constitutional republic, but in terms of what is good.  It’s policy positivism.

The Resurgent’s Merrie Soltis said this in an article today:

“But this whole episode just illustrates the futility of trying to rein in our federal spending. We’ve gone way past the point of only funding items that the Constitution specifies are under the responsibilities of the federal government. Nobody even stops to question that anymore. No, if it’s “good” then of course it must be funded with tax payer money and once funded it must never, ever be cut. This is why we have a $20 trillion national debt. This is why the deficit hit record numbers despite a Republican president and Congress. But don’t blame THEM. If cutting even such a minuscule part of the budget elicits this much outcry, then imagine what would happen if we started to cut the big stuff. Someone on Twitter pointed out that the $18 million dollars for Special Olympics amounts to about 5 golf trips for the president to Mar-A-Lago. (Wonder how many it would take to fund the wall?) It’s basically a rounding error in the federal budget…I’m a firm believer that we need large painful cuts in federal spending before we destroy our economy. But before we propose any, we have to be prepared to take the heat and stand by them. Otherwise, we’re just handing our opponents ammunition to use against us.”

Merrie’s article was on the Special Olympics funding and a measly $18 million. In Grand Rapids, Trump was talking about $300 million.  I’ll remind you that in February, the federal government spent $15 billion on an assortment of programs designed to help foreigners. But we can’t cut those programs!

The left and some idiot republicans have convinced much of the populace that every program run by the federal government is so essential that any proposed cut is tantamount to treason.

Back in September, I wrote an article on Senator Stabenow’s campaign to restore funding to the Great Lakes program. In it, I tabled the discussion as to whether the federal government should actually be involved in it.  I assumed that the federal government could and focused specifically on Stabenow’s claims. 

Here I will look at the federal government’s involvement.  I think it is obvious that the federal government can be involved in two ways.  First, the Great Lakes are a part of our border with Canada, as such, the federal government has a role in maintaining an international border and commerce with a foreign nation.  The commerce clause is also significant because the Great Lakes do play a huge part in interstate commerce.  A commerce clause justification however does not require a federal solution to every problem.  I hate our commerce clause jurisprudence because anything under the sun can be argued to have some effect on interstate commerce. 

I think it would be wise to try other options.  As Merrie points out, we aren’t talking about funding good policies in a time of surplus. Our debt is big league and we won’t be funding ANYTHING if the nation collapses. So we have to experiment with cuts. 

Does anyone wonder what sort of funding could be arranged from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York?  Does anyone ask how involved Canada is?   No, we immediately look to the federal government.  The states are dependent on the federal government for things, which could probably be funded by other measures. Ever hear of volunteers or private donations?

I remember there used to be all these discussions about pork on the right.  Now, pork is just populism.  But we forget that the structure of our government is designed in a way that is supposed to reflect the nation as a whole.  This is what I mean.  If an inordinate amount of tax money were going to one state, the rest of the states would rightly say there had better be a good reason or else we are cutting funds.  I do not like the idea of taxpayers in Oklahoma or Georgia paying for lake clean up for a lake that is entirely within the borders of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan.  Most of the lakes share a border with Canada.  It makes sense for taxpayer money from all over the United States to be used there since it is for a national purpose.  But that would only be part of this proposed $300,000,000 picture.  

There are political realities that we accept and others that need to be challenged.  I just want to see what would happen if we took a year to let the Great Lakes states fund this on their own.  Can’t we just try it? Can’t we just try NOT spending $15 billion dollars on foreign nations?

The $22,000,000,000,000 in debt is not going to get smaller if we are so picky about cutting a mere $300,000,000.

It’s a nice idea, keeping the lakes clean, but does it have to the job of the federal government? And if it is, is it the prudent thing to do with our debt?

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