It’s time for taxpayers to remind Congress that it’s not their cash

By Andrew Wilford for RealClearMarkets

In just four months, President Biden has proposed or included approximately $ 6.5 trillion in new spending. Since your tax dollars are suddenly up for grabs, many bad ideas have come from the woodworks.

As I wrote several times both before and immediately after the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) was passed, calls for massive state and local aid were not justified by the underlying state tax data.

Although the states went from an expected sales decline of 8 percent to a sales decline of a much more manageable 0.4 percent, the persistent demands for massive federal aid never changed.

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As a result, the ARP was $ 350 billion for state and local governments, including nearly $ 200 billion for states alone.

So high was the amount of aid that a provision was included in the ARPA prohibiting states from using federal aid dollars to fund tax cuts – a kind of thing that is generally not required when states are in dire need of the money to fund theirs need existing services.

Now California, a state that once claimed it was on track for a budget deficit of $ 54.3 billion, is now comfortably sitting on a $ 76 billion surplus. The state’s budgetary position is so rosy that its embattled Governor Gavin Newsom is proposing $ 600 tax-refund checks to every Californian.

Even though California has so much money that it is actually giving back to its citizens, the Golden State will still receive $ 27 billion in aid from ARP. Phew, it’s good Uncle Sam is loaning that $ 10 billion to save California!

And the sauce train of Congress doesn’t stop here. Biden’s $ 2 trillion infrastructure package proposal makes any infrastructure project proposal believe this could be their year.

While I risk badly insulting the Train People on Twitter, not every railroad project deserves to go ahead. Take two proposals for the east coast high-speed rail in hopes of federal funding.

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One such proposal would create a high-speed line between DC and Baltimore, a route that takes about an hour by car or the MARC local train, or half an hour on the Amtrak train.

At a cost of between $ 13.8 billion and $ 16.8 billion, the new high-speed line could cover this distance in 15 minutes.

Shorter commute times are always nice, but the average commuter would probably still choose to pay the $ 8 fare on a MARC train over the expected $ 60 fare on the high-speed line.

The price is simply not justified by the benefit of shortening an already short trip – unless the federal government naturally takes part of the bill.

Another exorbitantly expensive bullet train proposal is to create a railroad line between Long Island, New York City and Boston. Anyone who’s ever had to drive on I-95 knows this would be handy, but the cost of construction is estimated at over $ 100 billion and would take two decades to complete (so you can bet this will cost more and even would take longer than that).

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That absurd price tag and schedule does not prevent regional lawmakers from adding the project to the menu. The north-eastern legislature has already started to include the railway line in an upcoming infrastructure bill.

President Biden’s incessant drumbeat of new tax and spending proposals has likely made most taxpayers’ eyes shine at the size of the proposed spending, but that doesn’t mean the federal government is suddenly an endless stream of funding for every fantastic idea.

Taxpayers should remind Congress that they expect the federal government to be responsible stewards of their hard-earned tax dollars, and not to throw them at every shiny object that catches their eye.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

Andrew Wilford is a policy analyst with the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to tax policy research and education at all levels of government.

The opinions expressed by contributors and / or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Political Insider.

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