Oodles and oodles of ‘federal’ cash to spend


Many reporters and editors use these euphemisms over and over again in stories about government spending. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say taxpayers are paying for this and that, rather than the government? Or maybe it should be identified as borrowed funding.

The recently passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill will be paying for roads, bridges, airports, water projects, better broadband, and electric vehicle charging among many other needs and wants. According to the Congressional Budget Office this legislation will also add $256 billion to the projected federal deficit over the next decade.

While many leaders and pundits are cheering for the much needed improvements, others are worried about the impact on already growing inflation as well as the nation’s deficit. None of the 3 in Wyoming’s congressional delegation voted for the bill.

Wyoming is expected to receive about $2.5 billion from this federal taxpayer money. The specifics about how to spend it, within the federal guidelines attached, are yet to be determined by the governor and state legislature.

Some across Wyoming are touting their belief that these funds will position Wyoming to take advantage of future opportunities. Maybe, but with bigger portions of this largesse going to other states for similar projects, can Wyoming really gain an advantage?

Others are expressing their sentiment that this bounty will mean added, high paying jobs for the people of our state. There are already plenty of job openings that are languishing unfilled here and all over the country. Where will the number of workers required for these projects come from? After all, other states will have similar labor needs for their projects and will be competing for workers.

Right now, the scarcity of building materials and other products is already driving up costs. If demand rises sharply due to this new taxpayer money washing across the country, won’t costs to complete these projects escalate even more?

Eliminating supply chain bottlenecks at our ports, and other points, will also add expense to getting supplies to where they will be needed to build these new projects. Not to mention the increasing cost of fuel.

Wyoming Senator John Barasso recently cited congressionally mandated reports that revealed Medicaid over-funded or misspent $144 billion in public funds over the 2 year 2019-2020 period. That is just in one federal program. With a new $1.2 trillion floating around, how much of that money will be wasted through similar miss use and outright fraud?

Do you remember President Obama’s ‘shovel ready projects?’ Can you name one that was completed?

Improving roads, bridges, dams and airports are laudable goals. There never seems to be enough money available at all levels of government for this purpose. But that is often more a function of government priorities rather than lack of funds.

It would be great to see all of this massive infusion of capital used to upgrade the vast majority of our infrastructure. There are plenty of true necessities in need of attention. Here’s hoping this money gets used appropriately and we don’t have new legislation in a few years requesting more enormous amounts of money to finish projects that this just passed tranche gets started.

 

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