California Governor Gavin Newsom weighed in on the question of bailing out states whose budgets have been blown up by the coronavirus pandemic.
Newsom told CNN’s “State of the Union” that a state bailout was not “charity” and that Congress has a “moral and ethical obligation” to help Americans across the country.
The House passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill last week which contained almost a trillion dollars to bail out states. It also contained goodies for all — another stimulus check, help for renters, college debt relief, and cash for illegal immigrants.
“Not to act now is not only irresponsible in a humanitarian way, it is irresponsible because it’s only going to cost more,” warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “More in terms of lives, livelihood, cost to the budget, cost to our democracy.”
Republicans mocked the bill as a bloated Democratic wish-list that was dead on arrival in the GOP-led Senate and, for good measure, faced a White House veto threat. Party leaders say they want to assess how $3 trillion approved earlier is working and see if some states’ partial business reopenings would spark an economic revival that would ease the need for more safety net programs.
I challenge any supporter of this bill to argue it’s the taxpayer’s “moral” and “ethical” obligation to bail out state pension plans that have been underfunded and mismanaged for years. Or bail out states who have borrowed against the future to buy the support of one constituency or another.
States that were experiencing serious budget problems before the pandemic hit have no moral right and Congress has no responsibility to bail them out of their troubles. Making up part of a budget shortfall is one thing. The crisis is so serious and the fall in tax revenue so precipitous that even most Republicans are eventually going to come around and vote for some kind of bailout for states.
But not this monstrosity of a bill. Most states experiencing the greatest crises have been controlled by Democrats for years. The House bill is, indeed, a political document and has nothing to do with the reality facing the country.
Just how “responsible” is that?
Newsom laid it on thick in his plea for aid.
Newsom, who recently announced that California had gone from an almost $30 billion surplus earlier this year to a deficit of $54 billion because of the virus, painted a grim picture of what would happen if the federal government did not provide assistance to states.
“I hope they consider next time they want to celebrate heroes and first responders they will be the first ones laid off by cities and counties,” Newsom said of federal lawmakers. “I’m not looking to score cheap political points, but we have an obligation to support cities, states and counties.”
There is a lack of leadership in this crisis where governors could and should cut spending before going to their fellow countrymen and holding their hand out. Republican Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio is looking for $775 million in budget cuts. And a decent leader would call on the people to sacrifice as well and accept a temporary tax hike.
Then, and only then, should a governor come hat in hand to Washington. But that way is too hard, too politically risky. So we’re going to add a trillion or two more to the national debt because of the cowardice of governors.
Trump reluctantly agrees that a “phase 4” bailout is necessary. But I’m willing to bet Democrats will balk at any proposals by Republicans so they can make the “irresponsible” GOP an issue in the November election.