About this “we don’t need the federal government, we build stuff ourselves” thing going around.
It forgets that someone needs to do the building, or at least pay for it.
For example, people who oppose universal health care say that private care and charity will take care of the poor and uninsured. I keep waiting for a volunteer to coordinate the hundreds of sources of charitable care with the thousands who need it.
So far, nobody has. This is why the poor and sick set out tin cans in grocery stores, begging for their lives. Universal health care would make those cans unnecessary.
This blanket denial of the value of federal programs is just silly. Remember when the Utah Legislature tried to refuse $100 million in education stimulus funding because it hates big federal government?
That money kept a lot of Utah teachers paying mortgages and buying groceries.
Consider federal money for police.
KUER reported last week that Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, Tea Party favorite running for Congress against Rep. Jim Matheson, wants to eliminate Department of Justice grants to local law enforcement.
That would save $5.8 billion that now buys community-oriented policing programs to help local police departments hire more officers and buy bullet-proof vests.
I don’t know about you, but I like my police plentiful and well-protected. Many Top of Utah cops owe their lives to their vests.
If grants were not available (they’re a 50 percent match) local cities would have to tax for the full cost. That’s OK if you are a rich municipality, but what about cities where times are hard?
Federal funds mean even cops in economically depressed cities, like Brigham or Ogden, can be properly equipped.
How much would cutting $5.8 billion save?
Not much. Six cents a day from everyone in the U.S. raises $6 billion in one year.
Six cents a day versus safer cops. Tough choice.
Utahns could raise that themselves, except Tea Party types like Love, and almost Utah’s entire congressional delegation, have pledged never to raise taxes, ever.
The police could put tin cans around to collect money. They’d sit next to the cans currently lining your grocer’s checkout counter for people who need operations.
Which brings us back to medical care.
Lisa Nichols at the Midtown Community Health Clinic serves the uninsured and poor in Weber and Davis counties. Lisa said recently that if Utah adopts the expanded Medicaid provisions of the so-called “Obamacare” Affordable Care Act it will help pay for more than half of the 70 percent of her patients who don’t have insurance.
A lot of Utah lawmakers don’t like Obamacare because they say that, even though there is federal money involved for much of it, the expanded Medicaid program will cost Utah money.
But isn’t caring for our own something they favor?
Maybe this will help: No less a luminary than Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., current vice presidential candidate, favors using federal funds from Obamacare to help local health clinics.
No kidding. The magazine “The Nation” found a 2010 letter from Ryan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services supporting an application of the Kenosha, Wisc., Community Health Center for funds under Obamacare.
Ryan said those federal funds “will serve the preventative and comprehensive primary health care needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without health care” and asked that approval be swift.
If Paul Ryan can approve the use of federal funds to help sick people, so can Utah.
Either that or raise taxes to do it ourselves, because people are dying and there’s no more room for tin cans at the checkout stand.