In the wake of the spread of communist China’s coronavirus and the multi-trillion-dollar bailouts that have stemmed from it, let us as Americans be absolutely clear that fiscally responsible conservative states should not be forced to bailout broke Democratic states. Doing so would not only be morally wrong, it would be akin to highway robbery.
Americans are undeniably compassionate and generous, especially in the wake of emergencies. The September 11th attacks and Hurricane Katrina, among countless other examples, serve as proof positive of this uniquely American spirit. Sadly, during times of crisis, we also hear of unscrupulous scam artists who exploit the American people’s compassion for their own personal or political gain.
That is why it is so infuriating to read that the President of the Illinois State Senate, a Democrat named Don Harmon, is asking for $41 billion in aid from the federal government. It is not just the amount of the requested bailout that is maddening; it is where they want to put the money. They’ve planned to use $10 billion of the potential $41 billion to bailout the Illinois state pension fund—a purpose wholly unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.
Let me be very clear: Illinois’ shortfalls in its pension fund are not the result of the coronavirus. Instead, as Republicans in the state rightly pointed out upon hearing of Harmon’s request, the pension systems’ disastrous shortfalls have been a problem decades in the making due to years of Democratic control.
Unfunded or underfunded pensions certainly aren’t the only example of governments’ financial mismanagement. Consider that in January 2019 Forbes published a piece that claimed, “sixty-three, out of America’s most populous seventy-five, cities do not have enough money to pay all of their bills.” The financial woes many of America’s cities and states experience are of their own making. The five cities in the worst fiscal condition were New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Honolulu, and San Francisco—every single one of which is, and has been, run by tax-and-spend Democrats. Expectedly, the city in the best financial shape is Republican-controlled Irvine, California.
New York City, California, Michigan, New York State—the list of fiscally irresponsible governments across the country with their hands out during the pandemic is, while not surprising, reprehensible. Democrats, and some big government Republicans, sadly, choose year in and year out to dig themselves deeper into financial ruin, neglecting even elementary practices in responsible money management. Inevitably, these same governments cry “woe is me” whenever the federal government responds to a crisis.
In my home state of Arizona, under the leadership of a Republican Governor and Republican legislature, we are navigating the coronavirus pandemic with $1 billion—nearly 10 percent of our annual state budget—safely tucked away in the state’s Rainy-Day Fund. Why should the citizens of Arizona be forced to give up their hard-earned federal tax dollars to bail out irresponsible Democrat-led states? Why should the people of Arizona be forced to pay for the pensions of government employees in states and cities that refused to manage their money wisely?
Simply put, it must not be allowed to happen. America’s elected officials must say no to rewarding bad money management with the public purse. Irresponsible governments must be forced to deal with the repercussions of their actions or else their bad behavior will never change.
As for the time being, tens of millions of Americans are being devastated by this crisis. Our nation’s focus must remain solely fixed on these impacted Americans, not the governments who refused to be responsible decades earlier.
Dr. Kelli Ward is a family physician, two-term Arizona state senator, and the Chairwomen of the Republican Party of Arizona. On Twitter: @KelliWardAZ.