Better Storm Drains for All
It is now likely that a deal will not be reached between now and December 31 to avoid the fiscal cliff. Before you become an economic prepper and start stocking up on canned goods and extra Tequila, remember I also thought Mitt Romney would win the election.
If we do tumble over, the automatic sequester - spending cuts - kick in and everyone is looking for the worst-case scenario of what services will be lost to old folks, young folks, sick folks, and all the other folks in the United States.
As an example, in a Fresno Bee piece titled, "Automatic Cuts would hit California Hard," reporter Michael Doyle writes, "California is projected to lose $27 million in Community Development Block Grant funds … a sizable chunk from a program that in recent years has funded better storm drains in Fresno County."
I have no way of knowing whether Fresno County needs better storm drains if only because I don't know where Fresno County is. You don't either, so there is a map on the Secret Decoder Ring page.
Maybe I'm just being a jerk about this. Maybe Fresno county is in desperate need of "better storm drains" and I'm being an East Coast elitist by denying the good people of Fresno the right not to get their eco-friendly, vegan, hemp-laced, recycled-tire-soled sandals wet in a rainstorm.
So be it. It seems to me this is really a problem for the Great State of California and the Really Good County of Fresno to solve.
There are about 900,000 people in Fresno County. The size of the average U.S. household is 2.6 people per. That means there are about 350,000 families in Fresno County.
The Storm Drain Improvement Program costs $27 million according to Doyle's reporting. If the Fresno County Commissioners imposed an "Improve Our Storm Drains Tax" for just two years, it would cost each family about $40 per year.
Fresno County's storm drains would be improved and not one penny of my soon-to-increase federal income taxes would have been needed to do it.
I am only picking on Fresno because of Michael Doyle's excellent reporting. I am absolutely certain that the People's Republic of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia gets more than its fair share of federal funds for local projects if only because we can actually see the U.S. Capitol Building from our side of the Potomac River.
In fact, the Mighty Alexandria Times ran an article in November which covered the effects of the sequester. Among the items mentioned were federal funds for school building projects.
The Congressman from the People's Republic, Jim Moran (D-VA) was quoted as saying "schools should refrain from planning additional initiatives or major capital projects."
The reporter, Melissa Quinn, added, "This is bad news for Alexandria City Public Schools, which is set to replace several aging buildings in the coming years."
Same argument. If Alexandria, Virginia needs to replace public school buildings there is no reason in the world for taxpayers in Savannah, Georgia or Lansing, Michigan to help pick up the tab.
I wrote an article that appeared in the DailyBeast.com yesterday on what Speaker John Boehner's options might be in the three weeks remaining of this calendar year.
I spoke to two former senior House staffers and one senior Member of the House. They all agreed that the Speaker doesn't have many cards in his hand before the clock runs out on 2012.
The only leverage the House Republicans have is the looming debt ceiling which will be reached sometime in mid-February.
Until that time, though, President Obama is in control of the debate and, as Speaker Newt Gingrich learned in 1996 during the shutdown fight with President Bill Clinton, the White House's megaphone is much louder than the one in the House of Representatives.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Fresno Bee and Alexandria Times articles as well as my Daily Beast piece. Also a Mullfoto that made me shake my head.