Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Republican Base Hates Federal Funding - - For Certain Things

Stop the federal spending spree, says the Right.

Why, it's "mutual looting, a perpetual motion scam of public finance," intones one conservative pundit, and the grabbiness has put us on the road to ruin.

Besides, not everyone would have used the train, so why should someone from Ashland or Boscobel or Kansas City kick in?

So cancel that federally-funded rail line between Madison and Milwaukee because, federal funds or not, it's still taxpayers' dough collected hither and yon, and it''s not free money.

And the deepest pool of Wisconsin's anti-rail, federal-funding refusniks who put Scott Walker over the top with his 52% non-mandate majority statewide is in...deeply red Waukesha County.

So, of course, before Wisconsin's rail federal grant was re-allocated to other states earlier this month, three Wisconsin Republican members of Congress, including Jim Sensenbrenner, a purported fiscal hawk and the state's most senior Congressional member, said they would introduce a bill in Congress next year to return the rail money to the US Treasury.

Sensenbrenner represents...where else...?...Waukesha County.

But when it comes to supporting projects that demand megatax dollars to pay for the construction of other infrastructure projects that most people living elsewhere will not use - - like widening I-94 across all of Waukesha County, argues the County Executive, Dan Vrakas, or building a new water supply system for the City of Waukesha for the 80% larger water service territory the City's Lake Michigan diversion application envisions - - well, turn on the federal spigot.

In fact, winning federal grants is an integral part of the Waukesha water diversion financing plan, minimally estimated at $164 million.

As Daniel Duchniak, the Waukesha Water Utility manager said in a report quoted by Waukeshanow.com:

"We will be actively seeking federal grants and other financing options that would help defray the cost," Duchniak said in a separate memo distributed Tuesday to the Common Council.
Without any federal grant assistance, a Milwaukee water supply would cost residential ratepayers an estimated $142.28 each quarter of the year, up from the current quarterly water charge of $66.85, Duchniak says in the memo.

Quarterly charges for an Oak Creek water supply, with no federal grants to offset construction costs, would be an estimated $191.83. A Racine connection would cost residents $211.39 per quarter."
To the Daily Reporter, Duchniak said he hoped Waukesha might get between $25-50 million of a $100 million US Army Corps of Engineers' pot, and that along with the office of US Sen. Herb Kohl, US Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner was helping write the grant application, too.

That would be the same Sensenbrenner who was all for sending the rail money to the US Treasury.

Taxpayer dollars to stimulate growth and subsidize ratepayers in the higher-income city and county of Waukesha - - that's a good thing and thus worthy of federal help.

But using taxpayer-dollars to stimulate jobs around Madison and Milwaukee train stations, and at a train assembler in Milwaukee's lower-income central city- - nope, can't afford that. Get government out of that arena, pronto.

Question: When do federal grants make for evil spending and government excess, and when are they virtuous subsidies, if not outright (outRight?) earmarks?

Answer: If you're Jim Sensenbrenner and his constituents, or Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas, or the Waukesha Common Council, or the incoming Walker administration which will goose along Waukesha's diversion planning - - just watch, I guarantee it - -  it's quite situational, partisan and heavily class-based.

Just don't tell me it's principled.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Will the last one to leave Waukesha please turn out the lights?

Perhaps I'm better off moving to Pabst Farms in Oconomowac where the water is plentiful and cheap, and property taxes are more reasonable.

I'm going to have to give this some serious thought.