Unnecessary government programs? 

Jack Bernard is a retired healthcare SVP and nationally published columnist. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party and County Commission in Jasper County.

Before the election, I received correspondence from my Congressional Representative, Drew Ferguson. He stated that he recently voted for a bill to end “Unnecessary Government Programs.”
Sounds great, right? As I have said in previous columns, I am a proven fiscal conservative who was more than a little upset (as was Rand Paul) when my GOP brethren recently reduced taxes by a $1+ trillion without cutting non-productive programs.
Further, every student of Economics 101 knows that you do not cut taxes and incur increased deficit spending during an obvious economic boom. You save that for when the economy needs a substantial shot in the arm due to a recession, but I suppose our GOP Congressional leaders never took basic economics.
Anyway, I thought, We need to stop the election rhetoric and finally balance the budget. I certainly support stopping funding for unnecessary existing programs, like corporate welfare for oil companies.
I decided to investigate further and see if the swamp was really being drained. What I found was disturbing.
What was included in this misleadingly titled bill? According to the child advocacy group Families USA, the bill includes a “$1.9 billion proposed rescission to the CHIP Child Enrollment Contingency Fund,” not at all what I expected.
Per the respected Congressional Research Service: “The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a means-tested program that provides health coverage to targeted low-income children and pregnant women in families that have annual income above Medicaid eligibility levels but have no health insurance. CHIP is jointly financed by the federal government and the states, and the states are responsible for administering CHIP.”
This particular contingency fund was established via a bipartisan effort to ensure that money for children’s health services would not run out in case of a recession or economic setback. That is exactly what a contingency fund is for, a rainy day.
It is irresponsible budgeting for an individual not to have one because everyone experiences a rainy day at some point. Similarly, it is irresponsible for Congress to decide that a rainy day will never arrive for state governments. Just look at recent history.
During the last recession, CHIP funding ran low. In 2009, children who needed services were put on waiting lists. No matter what your politics, it is really very hard to justify not treating innocent sick kids.
Contrary to what you might think, it wasn’t California and New York needing or using these funds. In fact, since its creation Iowa, Michigan, and Tennessee have needed these funds to offset unexpectedly high enrollments due to hard economic times. All these states currently have Republican governors and all three went for Trump in 2016. Did GOP Congressmen realize that it was the residents of GOP states who would suffer if the contingency fund is abolished?
Rep. Ferguson, couldn’t you and your colleagues have cut something else? How about a reduction in spending for items that our military repeatedly says it does not need or want? Perhaps the planes, tanks, and so on that are in the budget solely because of lobbying by the industrial military complex, to use Ike’s well-turned timeless phrase. Only an honest General like Ike Eisenhower would know how accurate that phrase can be.
Further, how about looking at reducing unneeded expenditures for cabinet members and their families? For example, how much tax payer money did Secretary of Energy Pruitt (and I use that term loosely in this case) waste in phone booths for his office, ridiculous security for himself, art and lavish travel? How about really draining the swamp, Mr. President?
I could go on with a hundred and one areas that really do need cuts, but I think we all get the picture. Poor, defenseless children can’t defend themselves. There are no powerful lobbyists pressuring Congressmen on their behalf.
Rep. Ferguson, if you really want to balance the budget, vote to rescind the unneeded and very unpopular GOP tax cuts. Almost all of it is going to your wealthy friends who don’t need it.
The GOP’s failure to care about the needy and helpless is one reason the blue wave rolled over 30 or more of your GOP Congressional colleagues in swing districts. Please, cut real waste and leave our kids alone!

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