The tea party, Libertarians, and conservatives of both the fiscal and social ilk have made repeated calls for “limited government”, meaning the federal government. In detail, what does limited government mean? As always, the devil is in the details.
Below are several federal grants to the states that the federal government has no business being involved in – in my opinion. Many of these are good programs but simply do not need to be administered at the federal level. However, the federal income tax brings the money from individuals to the federal government where the power brokers in Congress and the lobbyists decide on how to dole it back out to the states and individuals, which is where the money came from in the first place. Countless federal agencies dilute that tax money before it gets doled out. The complete list is here.
These are 2007 figures, rounded to the nearest billion dollars:
Medical Assistance Program $203B – the states can take care of this on their own. Why do the Feds need to get involved?
Unemployment Insurance $36B – We already have state unemployment. Federal unemployment kicks in when a state runs out of money or the Congress decides to extend benefits. Why can’t the states simply charge more and let’s get the Feds out of the picture.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – $30B. Are the states so incompetent at administering their own affairs that the Feds have to step in on this?
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) $16B – Instead of helping needy families in our own states, our tax money helps families in other states. Federal employees working in Health and Human Services (HHS), not state agencies, get to decide who is deserving of this assistance and who is not.
Federal Pell Grant Program $14B – are the states really that bad at managing the educational needs of their residents that we need the wisdom of a federal agency to administer this needs-based program for college and graduate students?
Title 1 Grants $13B – here’s another program where big daddy in Washington, DC helps the states help disadvantaged school children. Evidently the states suck at this too.
Special Education Grants $11B – this federal program for disabled school children helps states who evidently weren’t taking care of these less fortunate kids. Why bother having any state governments? Evidently, most state governments are incompetent and need federal help.
National School Lunch Program $8B – the states can’t even adequately feed the kids who attend school in their state.
Head Start $7B – this program for pre-schoolers is needed because the states can’t take care of their own.
State Children’s Insurance Program (SCHIP) $6B – another example of the feds having to step in because there was a perceived need that the states weren’t taking care of.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – $6B – more nutritional help for the states, who can’t do anything right.
Federal Transit Formula Grants $6B – urban taxpayers pay most of the federal income tax in this country so this is a way for the Feds to give back some of that tax money to the cities to help them get their residents to and from work so that those residents can continue to foot the Federal tax bill.
Foster Care Title IV-E $5B – another great program to help foster kids but why does it need to be at the federal level?
Above are only several of the 160 or so federal programs that are listed on 4 pages in this report from the Census Bureau. Maybe we should disband all the states and become one state run by the folks in Washington, DC. We would get rid of a lot of duplicate state agencies, who are evidently incompetent or negligent. Then, when I call my state governor’s office, they will answer the phone “Hello, this the Colorado Division of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government.” That is where we have been slowly heading for the past half century or more. I hope that we will take another road. I don’t like what I see up ahead on this road.