Get the Feds out of Highway Funding!

Michigan State Representative Paul Opsommer, R-DeWitt, announced today that he would be working with fellow transportation leaders at the upcoming National Conference of State Legislators conference to help push for more state autonomy in transportation spending.

“The past 5 years in Lansing have focused almost continually on making sure we could always match federal transportation dollars,” Opsommer said. “The new reality is that we are going to be getting so little transportation money from Washington D.C. going forward that it is a perfect time to stop worrying about matching funds, cut the cord, and put more dollars towards Michigan priorities.”

Opsommer said nationally senators like Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Congressman Scott Garrett of New Jersey have pushed for such policy in the past and that a perfect storm was being created to finally get such a change through. While he has not seen all of the details of the Hutchison and Garrett legislation, Opsommer has introduced House Concurrent Resolution 28 in Michigan to provide support for the premise of returning authority to the States. Opsommer plans to hold hearings on the resolution this fall.

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Paul Krugman on Default: Crazy for You

Paul Krugman, columnist for The New York Times, is a piece of work. You see, Krugman is always right. And if you don’t agree with him, you’re “crazy.”  Krugman begins his July 14 column, “Getting to Crazy”, with this:

“There aren’t many positive aspects to the looming possibility of a U.S. debt default. But there has been, I have to admit, an element of comic relief — of the black-humor variety — in the spectacle of so many people who have been in denial suddenly waking up and smelling the crazy.”

All craziness aside, the only way the United States could default is if President Obama were to deliberately refuse to pay off our bonds. The 14th Amendment, Section 4 forbids Obama from doing this. Obama isn’t going to risk impeachment, is he?

And surely Krugman, our Nobel Prizing-winning celebrity economist, knows that the United States can “print” money. What’s the use of a fiat currency if you can’t print off a few trillion every now and then?

So all this talk of “default” is, uh, crazy. The real worry concerns being backed into the corner and having to “print” more money to make good on our debt. QE2 then becomes QE3 and there’ll be no end to the QE’s. Also, there’s the looming possibility of a credit downgrade. (Kevin Williamson recently wrote a very sobering article for NRO on the repercussions of a credit downgrade.) Anyway, after Krugman gets through his usual invective, he trots out this:

“President Obama has made it clear that he’s willing to sign on to a deficit-reduction deal that consists overwhelmingly of spending cuts, and includes draconian cuts in key social programs, up to and including a rise in the age of Medicare eligibility. These are extraordinary concessions.”

OK, when do these cuts happen? If they don’t happen immediately or in FY2012, they aren’t real, as neither Obama nor Congress have control over anything beyond the next fiscal year. Even if they agree to a budget for FY2013, the next government can override it. The acid test of Obamian seriousness on spending cuts is whether the feds will still be funding NPR, NEA, NEH, cowboy poetry festivals, etc. — in 2012. If cuts are off-loaded to the “out years,” then Obama’s cuts are unenforceable, and won’t correct America’s fiscal death spiral, which is happening now.

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