Those friendly folks in Washington have been treating us for years. Every year they would show up with new goodies - a museum for me, an increase in Medicare benefits for you. If you wanted to buy a house and didn't have a down payment or a solid credit record - no problem, your good old Congress just told Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to give your bank the money to lend to you. It was terrific.
Now don't blame your congressman or senator. After all, they worked hard to be elected and most of all they didn't want to lose their jobs. So they quickly learned a couple of things.
First, they get re-elected by bringing home those packages, and if they do that we don't really care what they do with the rest of their time. Secondly, they need lots of money to be sure to be re-elected, and the time they spend which we do not care about can be spent passing out further goodies to industries, interest groups, unions and other deserving folks, who then shower them with re-election money. Seems neat, and who could complain.
How well it works is illustrated by a recent study by the Tax Foundation, based on a Census Bureau report. It sets forth the federal taxes received from each state and the amount received back by each state from the federal government.
Now you would expect to receive back less than you paid because those folks in D.C. have other things to do with our money than send it back to us - like pay bureaucrats and support the armed forces. Besides that, we don't suppose the federal government is there just to send us back our own money.
Well, the study, which covers the years 1981 through 2005, is interesting. Until 2000, Ohio received back, every year but two, a couple of cents on the dollar less than it sent. Then in 2000 a modern miracle - we started to receive back a couple of cents more on the dollar than we sent. Not only was this good - it was almost Biblical - like the jar that was never empty.
The geniuses we sent to D.C. discovered that all they had to do was borrow so they could pay us more money than we sent. Reminds me of a fellow named Ponzi, yet who would quibble with such ingenuity.
But that's not the end. Ohio wasn't the luckiest state. In fact, it was 31st in good fortune in 2005. Thirty states had it better. If that does not make you feel good enough, consider how the District of Columbia fared in this study. Over those 25 years it never received less than $5.05 cents for each dollar paid.
That, of course, is only fair. D.C. is where the congressmen and senators are, and they deserve the best. It is hard to imagine any old tightwads wanting to upset anything so pleasant.
Well, the study goes only through 2005, but fear not, we can rest assured that the folks we sent to Washington haven't forgotten their friendly ways - witness the $800,000,000,000 "stimulus" package and the new medical benefits called Obamacare (which we'll try to understand after unelected bureaucrats write the regulations so Nancy Pelosi can finally explain it to us). The proof of the fact that they have kept to their sterling ways is that as of Dec. 1 our federal budget deficit had climbed to more than $14,000,000,000,000 (that's $14 trillion and amounts to more than $100,000 for each person working in the United States).
Even though we haven't yet spent much of the money legislated in the last two years, that deficit was 13.9 percent higher than a year earlier and growing $115 billion a month.
Well, there are many related things we could discuss, but I'm being called to dinner. I feel good leaving you, in this cold weather, with a good warm feeling about how tidily our representatives have worked things out.
Letson is a Warren resident and attorney.