October 6, 2022

Taxpayer Funds From ‘The President’s Wallet’?

The Leftmedia and perhaps most politicians seem to think that’s where money originates, but the Constitution says otherwise.

Before we get to the point, the above picture speaks a thousand words, doesn’t it?

Most Americans would like for things such as disaster aid to be bipartisan. They’d rather see officials of both parties set aside their differences and work to make sure basic needs are met for victims of a natural disaster like Hurricane Ian. There are more than 100 dead in Florida, and thousands are displaced or still without power or water. Estimates of the damage top $100 billion.

“I think we’ve worked as well across state, local, and federal of any disaster that I’ve seen,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. “We are cutting through the red tape, and that’s from local government, state government all the way up to the president, so we appreciate the team effort.”

President Joe Biden sounded the same note: “We have very different political philosophies, but we worked hand-in-glove.” Biden even said DeSantis is doing a “pretty remarkable” job.

But you know who doesn’t want those two men to get along? The ratings-seeking mainstream media.

“DeSantis has been a critic of Biden on nearly every policy front. But he sure does like the president’s wallet,” mocked Politico. “Over the past two years, DeSantis’ admin received billions in federal relief cash, which the governor has used to fund his top priorities.” Now, tuts the Leftmedia rag, Florida is “poised to benefit from billions of dollars in additional federal assistance to grapple with the devastating damage left by Hurricane Ian.”

So let’s get this straight: Dozens are dead and there’s billions of dollars in losses, but Florida is going to “benefit” from federal money? And that money comes from Joe Biden’s “wallet”? Whatever they’re smoking over at Politico has gone bad.

First of all, there are legitimate questions about whether the federal government ought to redistribute taxpayer dollars for any of this. “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government,” said the Constitution’s author, James Madison, while serving in the House and debating relief money for refugees.

President Grover Cleveland, a big fan of his veto pen, rejected money for drought relief for Texas farmers. “The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune,” he explained. “This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.”

Indeed, imagine the charity that would be possible and encouraged if our national conversation wasn’t always fixated on confiscating and redistributing wealth via taxing and spending.

Second, Congress wields the power of the purse, not the president. And taxpayer money doesn’t come out of or go into the president’s “wallet.” The White House is not a bank.

Third, Politico and others seem to have discovered unique hypocrisy among Republicans who oppose some emergency or disaster spending while accepting it themselves. That might be a fair point, but only without considering how money is appropriated and used. Just because dollars go from the U.S. Treasury to X location doesn’t mean that money is well spent.

“Tell me how the pandemic justified a $5 million disbursement to Boston’s Edward M. Kennedy Institute,” writes Noah Rothman of federal COVID aid. “What public health emergency necessitated renovating Colorado Springs’ golf course irrigation systems? Did Seattle need to devote over $28 million to downtown apartments for the city’s homeless population, or was that one of the city’s esoteric ‘priorities?’ Has anyone strapped on green eyeshades and audited L.A. County’s $5 million ‘creative works’ jobs program for the city’s moribund ‘artists?’”

That kind of federal pork is part of the explanation for our $31 trillion national debt.

When DeSantis was in Congress, he opposed relief money for Mid-Atlantic states after Hurricane Sandy for similar reasons — it was larded up with wasteful spending. Rothman recounts some of it: “cash to repair shoreline erosion near the Kennedy Space Center, funding for fisheries from Alaska to American Samoa, a 9-figure disbursement for Head Start facilities, and $16 billion in fungible Community Development Block Grants.” Nevertheless, the Leftmedia sees only Republican hypocrisy and miserly contempt when Democrat voters are in need.

Will DeSantis use aid money for Ian more wisely? We’d certainly like to hope so, but that hope and $1.50 will buy you a Coke. That is to say that government at any level or under the control of either political party is rarely known for good spending practices. That’s what happens when politicians fail to remember that they’re spending taxpayer money and, especially in the federal government’s case, that there are pesky limits in the Constitution.

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