On the EDge: Note to GOP: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

OPINION – The party line in Red State America is that the feds give too many handouts; that there is too much “big government;” that we are taxed too much; that too much money goes to “government programs” whether for so-called entitlement programs or for aid; that too many go to the federal government with their hands out.

But, when there is federal money on the table guess who is first in line?

Seven of the 10 states that receive the most in government money are conservative. Utah is not, by the way, among them, coming in farther down the line.

But, in the heart of Utah conservatism that sneers at federal funding lies the hypocrisy that is politics.

Santa Clara city officials recently applied for federal dollars for relief money that would have allowed it to purchase three homes in a potential landslide site and to do other work to keep the earth from shifting in that area.

The city asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for $1.2 million to buy the three properties engineers believe to be the most seriously affected in the Truman Drive area, plus money to relocate homes and their residents, remove soil at the top of the slide zone to reduce weight on the slope, construct a support berm at the base of the hill, and cover engineering and drainage costs. In denying the funding, FEMA officials agreed that the city’s plan is probably a good one, but that at the moment, there are higher priorities.

Santa Clara will reapply for the funds next year.

That doesn’t mean the feds will overlook Utah and its needs.

On the whole, Utah relies on federal funds for more than 40 percent of its revenue. During the state’s budget year that ended June 30, 2013, Utah received $4.5 billion in federal funds, plus another $2.7 billion in loans, endowments and loan guarantees, according to figures released by Utah State Auditor John Dougall. The state, meanwhile, raised nearly $3 billion collected in individual income taxes and a little more than $2 billion in state sales taxes, the largest sources of state government revenue.

After examining the figures, University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank told The Salt Lake Tribune that although he understands the concerns raised about federal funding, the state has little alternative but to depend on Washington, D.C.

“I honestly don’t see what the alternative would be,” Burbank said. “We would lose jobs. We would lose all kinds of services if we didn’t have access to federal money. There’s no question we would be worse off.”

That doesn’t stop Gov. Gary Herbert, who probably leads the GOP pack when it comes to politicizing federal funding on one hand while reaching for more with the other.

He has, for example, wrongly stated that the state is forced to accept certain funding because of federal mandates, particularly in the area of health programs. The truth, however is that the state has voluntarily signed on to the programs that provide those dollars. They are not mandated, despite the governor’s protestations.

When it comes to relief dollars, Herbert sings a different tune.

“That’s our money,” he told The Trib after accepting $60 million in federal agricultural relief. “We put money in the federal government like all states that pay taxes. … As we put money in, we’re going to get money back.”

He’s not the only one to talk smack about the feds, then brag about how much money he lifted from its coffers.

I cannot count the number of times I have heard Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican, and Rep. Jim Matheson, a member of the Democratic Party – well, at least in name – brag about the federal dollars they have garnered for one project or another.

In other words, senseless spending ends when money is diverted from your wallet to mine. At that point, it is money well spent.

According to a report by the Sutherland Institute, federal dollars provide Utah with quantitative funding for vital programs such as education and nutrition for children (NCLB), basic health care for low-income families (Medicaid/CHIP), income to live on for seniors (Medicare/Social Security), and economic activity that creates jobs for Utah families of all income levels in addition to road and highway money, disaster relief, and other programs.

So whether it is for education, health care, disaster relief, business development, or any other cause, Red Staters are more than willing to check their ideological principles at the door and stand in line with their hands out.

Yet, when the poor are in need, we hear about how they should get “a hand up” rather than “a handout.”

But, here is where Herbert’s words haunt him. Those dollars also belong to the people who have contributed to unemployment insurance, Social Security, and other programs intended to help the poor, needy, and unemployed, most of whom are white or live in a rural community, by the way, according to a recent Pew Research study. That is, however, a topic of its own, separate from this discussion. So is the issue of funding for senseless wars and the implements of war, which the military industrial complex and aerospace industry produce to further gouge taxpayers.

What is at issue here is the hypocrisy involved in castigating the federal government – well, to be precise, members of the Democratic Party in the federal government – for unchecked spending while asking for those dollars out of the other side of your mouth.

You can’t have it both ways.

If you are opposed to taking federal money, don’t ask for it, and if you ask for it, don’t bad-mouth those who made it available.

Even an angry dog learns not to bite the hand that feeds it.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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  • Old Man October 14, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Democratic Party in the federal government – unchecked spending
    You did get that part Right

  • Ben Detta October 14, 2014 at 10:16 am

    A note to the GOP: Please continue not listening to Ed Kociela

  • former hippie who grew up October 14, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    “federal dollars provide Utah with quantitative funding for…….income to live on for seniors (Medicare/Social Security)…..” Ed forgets that Social Security and Medicare recipients DO NOT GET A HANDOUT!!!!! They have paid into it and are merely collecting what is theirs to begin with. There are more statements that are untrue in the article…..but Ed is the one who “checks” those facts at the door he speaks of. BEN DETTA’s post above is correct……ignore Ed Kociela.

    • Ed Kociela October 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      I didn’t say Medicare/Social Security were handouts; in fact, I said: “Those dollars also belong to the people who have contributed to unemployment insurance, Social Security, and other programs intended to help the poor, needy, and unemployed, most of whom are white or live in a rural community, by the way, according to a recent Pew Research study.”

    • laytonian October 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Dear Former Hippie:
      Yes, we all paid into our retirement BUT WE GET IT ALL BACK WITHIN FOUR YEARS.

      You should be grateful to the US Government rather than hating it. Your very existence depends on it.

  • Big Guy October 14, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Note to Ed and other Democrats: we’d rather not send our “feed” to Washington in the first place. But once you’ve decided that you know better than we do what should be done with our “feed,” we are forced to apply for grants to get it back. For example, virtually all school districts across the county have employees whose primary job is to apply for Federal grants from bureaucrats who know better than we do what should be done locally. Liberals know much better than the rest of us what is good for us and when in power, use government to force it on us.

    • Big Guy October 14, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Oops: “country” not “county”

    • Bender October 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      Federal dollars are a small part of K12 funding BIG GUY. 9% for WCSD. Turn off the Hannity; I guarantee an immediate 20 point bounce in your IQ.

      • Big Guy October 14, 2014 at 3:13 pm

        BENDER is apparently quite happy with salaried WCSD employees who, instead of teaching our children, spend their days getting our money back from the Feds. By the way, I’ve never watched Hannity or O’Reilly in my life nor do I watch or read Fox News. BENDER, be sure to keep watching MSNBC to get your daily dose before it goes off the air for lack of viewers. Then switch to ABC, CBS and NBC who have been taking up the slack for the liberal media.

        • Bender October 14, 2014 at 9:20 pm

          So you’re a full on Limbaugh man? Bender don’t watch no TV.

  • Starbug October 14, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Right on Ed! To all the commenters who are saying “Don’t listen to Ed” blah blah blah, no people LISTEN TO ED. And to Former Hippie Who Grew Up its the Republicans who look at Medicare and SS as entitlements and places where they can make cuts and raid the accounts, spend that money on other things. Hello, have you read what Paul Ryan puts out there or ever listened to him? I see Ed as merely pointing out the irony here. Republicans who all voted for Bush’s tax cuts and unfunded wars, the ones who ran the deficit up are now, and have been for the past six years, whining about cutting programs that help the poor to pay off their debt. Just look at history and times when out country has experienced the most growth and economic prosperity is when we have more Liberal policies, and the more Liberal minded in charge. And its a FACT that the Red States receive more Federal Assistance money than the Blue States. States like California and New York pay more into the system than they take out, What Ed said about the states that suck up the most Federal Assistance dollars are all Republican controlled states, so the people who are relying the most on the government are the ones voting for people who want to shut down the programs that keep them afloat. Hence “Biting the hand that feeds”… Keep writing Ed!

    • former hippie who grew up October 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      STARBUG, the reason California and New York contribute more to the feds is, going by Eds calculations, is that they have the highest taxes in the country. In New York alone, as a worker there, you take home approximately 40 cents for every dollar you earn. Same in California. So naturally, the more you are taxed, the more that is contributed to the feds. Those states don’t discriminate on who is Democrat or Republican….what is wrong with keeping more of the money a worker earns?? For either a Dem or a Repub. Over taxation is wrong. Ed doesn’t have a problem with the taxes as he resides in Mexico part time…..probably hides a lot of taxable income, who knows??

      • Chris October 14, 2014 at 3:57 pm

        Your post makes no sense. NY and CA pay the same federal income tax rates that we do. In return, they get less in handouts, per capita, than many other states including Utah. Utah, in fact, gets more from the federal government than it pays in total income tax. Therefore, Utah is freeloading off those liberal states.

  • Correct October 14, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I think it was a good article.

  • Brian October 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    So let me get this straight, Ed: Someone breaks into your home and steals $2,500 dollars. You call the police and they recover the money and return it to you. Somehow you’re now indebted to the crook because he’s now somehow the source of the money? And you’re a hypocrite if you say crime is wrong, because you’re somehow “taking money from” criminals? Let’s be clear: the federal government creates NOTHING. 100% of the revenue it has it first collected from the citizens of the states. They are the ones that produce everything. The federal government only exists to do things the states can’t do alone, like border security. Ironically, the things the federal government does have the right to do are the things it does the worst or not at all (see again border security).

    • Bender October 15, 2014 at 10:06 am

      I’m guessing the list of important things the federal government does and that Brian has no understanding of is a long one.

  • My Evil Twin October 14, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Hey Ed, once again I have to “cross the aisle” and agree with you. I get a kick out of folks who would have you just “shut up and go away.” Keep doing what you are doing. Sometimes we agree, more often we don’t, but so what? You usually provide a well thought out point of view, (Even though it often is not the RIGHT point of view.) 😉
    In this case, as in so many others, what you are talking about is purely political hypocrisy. The old idea that “It is OK for me to get what I want from the feds, it just isn’t OK for anybody else to do it,” is just a further example of the decline in people taking responsibility for themselves.
    Kind of sad.

    • McMurphy October 14, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      Complaining about political hypocrisy by members of either party is like complaining it gets hot in St George in July. It’s just the way things are.

    • Bender October 15, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      Evil Twin, last paragraph. like+

  • NoThanks October 14, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Democratic Party, do yourself a favor and remove the keys from Eds Keyboard. he apparently can’t put an original thought on paper. What a cheap hack attempt as we approach the Mid Terms.

    next time you want to slam an entire party Ed come up with something original at least.

    No go back to promoting out of control spending like there is a bottomless pit of $$ by the party you love.

    • Bender October 14, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      NOT HANKS, lay offa Ed. And whachu got against Hank?

  • Visiting Anthropologist October 14, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Always a pleasure to read your columns, Ed, and to know that that those of us on the Blue side of the aisle are not completely alone in the Red Wasteland. Thanks…This one is excellent. For some of the commenters (and you know who you are), I’m reminded of the old line: “Don’t confuse me with facts. I’ve already made up my mind.”

    • Vietnamvet October 14, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      Did you know that Las Vegas was first settled by Mormons . Than the majority of the Mormons left LV and returned to Utah and it’s red wasteland. I wonder why , LV is such a beautifully place. I wonder if they didn’t like the politics. The mind making up was done before you was born, Now you move to where you fit better : )
      .its the anthropologist shoes that’s causing the confusion.

      • Bender October 15, 2014 at 10:04 am

        The Mormons built a small fort in Las Vegas in 1855 and a handful hung around for a couple of years until internal squabbling broke out and the fort was abandoned. The group of settlers likely was ripe with difficult personalities like VIETNAMVET’s.

  • Ron October 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Too many people–both Democrats and Republicans–refuse to believe that their side can be wrong on some issues or that the other side might be right at times. We used to try to see where the other side was coming from and then, calmly and logically without stupid name-calling, explain why we disagree. And sometimes we actually used to agree without fear of sinking the whole ship.

  • Bobber October 14, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    The GOP is happy to spend us into oblivion so long as its for tax cuts, wars, and “homeland security”. I guess its a good thing the LDS tells you to always vote the R, otherwise you people might have to think for yourselves. Might be painful right?…

  • Rick October 14, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Why do you Ed supporters assume that Ed’s “facts” are correct? He is a liberal democrat. He will site whatever “fact” supports his agenda. I don’t believe one word Ed says. I have facts that contradict his “facts”. Who ya gonna believe? I suggest you all do some research and expose Mr. Ed for the Semi-factual, if it fits my agenda guy that he is. If he were a conservative republican he would be praising Gov. Herbert for the great job he’s doing helping the needy in The Great State of Utah. That’s just the way it works. “Ed’s” come a dime-a-dozen in every color on both sides of the aisle. Big whoop.

    • Dana October 15, 2014 at 5:16 am

      You don’t believe “…one word Ed says.” yet here you are, hanging on to every “…word Ed says.”

  • S. Carter October 14, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Lol, so much butthurt in here. Keep makin ’em mad Ed!!

  • Vietnamvet October 14, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    We could refuse to take federal dollars , but than they would give that money to some moron left wing group that would spend the money on study’s such as ; why are lesbians fatter than there heterosexual counterparts .

  • Maggie October 15, 2014 at 12:24 am

    Vietnam vet…………You hit the nail on the head. The silliness of the way our tax dollars are spent is rampant on both sides of the isle. It simply makes no sense to send money to the feds ,to pay someone to redistribute it back to the people for what someone that doesn’t even live in the area decides if we need or should have. The way the system is set up Gov Herbert ,or any other Gov, simply does not have a choice in taking fed money. All Ed is doing is catering to the low info voter. Period.

    • Bender October 15, 2014 at 8:57 am

      By the same token, it should make no sense to you to send money to the state, only to be redistributed back to Washington County, or send money to Washington County only to be redistributed back to St. George.

  • Karen October 15, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Ed is correct in pointing out the irony of those who hold out their hand for money to the federal government while simultaneously criticizing it for spending too much money. Another example (and I am LDS) is large number of married students at BYU who happily use Medicaid to pay for their childbirth costs while their parents complain and whine about the federal government spending too much on Medicaid. If you don’t believe me then check out the recommendations for health insurance at BYU. It directs married students to Medicaid. Hypocrites!

    • Bobber October 15, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      Did they do this with bishop approval? Are they aware that medicaid is welfare?

  • el jefe October 15, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Ed’s useless rantings won’t make a bit if difference in the midterm elections. His beloved party WILL lose big time. Ed, you should consider returning to your little piece of paradise in Mexico and guzzle up double margaritas…..preferably any time way before noon.

  • bishpoul October 15, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    How do we hold the the Washington County, Assessor’ Office accoutable for their
    bully tactics?

  • bishpoul October 19, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    County Assessor needs numbers skills to help the Assessor office to stop
    bullying the Citizens that pay his wages. Bullying will get you nowhere but fired.
    Help stop Big Government who forgets who they work for.

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