Democratic consultant Paul Begala has penned an op-ed for The Daily Beast arguing that the small government rhetoric of Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, and Representative Hal Rogers is hypocritical, given Kentucky’s dependence on federal money.
Take Kentucky, please. Kentucky has given us Makers Mark bourbon, Churchill Downs, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Kentucky has also given us Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers. While Rogers was once dubbed the “Prince of Pork” and McConnell has hauled so much pork he’s at risk for trichinosis, they are now converts to Sen. Paul’s anti-government gospel. McConnell says President Obama’s new budget is “unserious” and “irresponsible” because it merely cuts projected deficits by $1.1 trillion. “The people who voted for a new direction in November have a five-word response,” McConnell said, “We don’t have the money.”
Fair enough. So here’s my two-word response: Defund Kentucky. Cut it off the federal dole. Kentucky is a welfare state to begin with. The conservative Tax Foundation says the Bluegrass State received $1.51 back from Washington for every dollar it paid in federal taxes in 2005 (the most recent data I could find on the Tax Foundation’s website.) We need to listen to the people of Kentucky. They don’t want any more federal spending in their state—and they certainly must be appalled by the notion that they’re a bunch of welfare queens, living off the taxes paid by blue states like California(which only gets 81 cents back on the dollar), Connecticut (69 cents), Illinois (75 cents) and New York (79 cents).
The issue was briefly raised during Paul’s race for the U.S. Senate. In recent years, we’ve seen many rural writers and advocates take increasingly bold stands against federal program cuts. From Post Office closures to poorly-expanded internet access, rural areas often see the effects of altered spending first. Of course, Louisville benefits from federal spending as well. Many previously-proud earmark earners say now is the time to end the process and close the deficit. Others, however, argue that in times of recession, a balanced budget should not be a high priority. When asked about the cuts in various federal budget proposals in the House, Third District Congressman John Yarmuth told WFPL:
“A lot of us, for whom some of these cuts the Republicans have proposed and even cuts like the ones the Obama administration has proposed would be much more acceptable if we didn’t have 10% unemployment and so many people suffering.”
What are your thoughts on how to square rural difficulties with small-government politics?