“The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all.”
— Isaiah 56:11
There’s at least one thing that continues to bug me when it comes to the federal funds that White County officials are looking to possibly spend to help them build a courts facility.
It isn’t that the county wants to use its American Rescue Plan Act and Coronavirus Aid. Relief and Economic Securities Act funds. That should be expected. It isn’t even that the projected cost for the courts building has ballooned to $20 million-plus because of inflation, higher gas prices and supply-chain problems, although that should certainly make the officials consider putting off the project.
The problem with using the federal funding, which just adds to our national debt anyway, is that projects like the courts building show that it wasn’t absolutely needed. Sure, there are several reasons why a new courts facility is a worthwhile project for our county, but it seems like the $10 million to $11.4 million in federal money that could be spent on it could have been used by Congress for projects Democrats are now looking to fund through economic legislation.
That’s not meant to denigrate county officials who want to make use of the money they’ve been given. They are no different than other public officials who have taken the ARPA and CARES money and run, using it for big bonuses and big dreams. When the federal government is handing out money right and left, everyone wants to get in the line to get their share.
It just seems that our country’s leaders overreacted financially to COVID-19, and now we’re paying for it ... literally. Too much stimulus money to help us handle the financial burdens caused by the pandemic has received at least partial blame for the record-high inflation we’ve seen. That might seem counterintuitive, but big spending followed since taxpayers had money burning a hole in their pockets and contributed to the supply problem, increasing demand, which increased costs.
And now we’ve got a measure being pushed in Congress that would raise $739 billion in revenue through tax boosts on high earners and some corporations, along with beefed-up IRS tax collections. Is more taxes being collected from them really the way to get those high earners and corporations to help lower prices?
Maybe if the federal government had kept Round 3 of the stimulus checks or some of the trillions in ARPA and CARES Act funds it tossed around, it wouldn’t see the need to squeeze anyone for more taxes, which likely will cause all of us to bear some of the brunt of that money grab as paying extra will be passed down to the consumers.
Yes, some progressives probably would have wanted to tax high earners and corporations more no matter what, likely to increase the amount to be spent. However, what all the COVID money floating around demonstrates is that the pared-down package Democrats will be trying to push through could have been paid for without doing that.
Obviously, no one wanted businesses to go broke due to the pandemic or for people not to be able to pay their bills or for governments not to be able to function. The federal government had to react to the pandemic. However, there’s a difference in having to have money to function and wanting money to build a new courts building or for other projects that cannot be viewed as an emergency need.
Maybe that’s where COVID relief has gone wrong. It appears that not everyone who received a stimulus check really needed relief. And it appears that not every government entity needed as much relief as it is receiving. Maybe either the federal government needed to distribute less money then wait to see if more was necessary (which is what some Congress members wanted, or to pull some of the earmarked money back) or it needed to have even stricter standards for how the money could be spent.
Although some county officials may be more than happy to use the money they have been given, it just seems kind of dysfunctional for the federal government to be handing them taxpayer funding to help build a courts building when it wants to turn around and raise more funds through taxation to use on election-year priorities (some of which we might not even agree should be priorities).
Many of us have had to tighten our budgets to handle paying more for practically everything we need, while our federal government seems to be throwing taxpayer money around for wants and figuring out how it can grab more. That just bugs me.