Monday, November 17, 2008

Republican Senators in Taxpayer-Funded Glass Houses

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) has been the go-to guy for all things "no" on the auto bailout/loan issue. Yesterday, he appeared on "Meet the Press" as the counterpoint to Carl Levin, and he had some very strong words about the auto industry and the use of taxpayer dollars.

SHELBY: If--they would be in a lot of people's judgment a lot better off to, to go through Chapter 11 where they could reorganize, get rid of the management, get rid of the boards, the people who've brought them to where they are today. This is a dead-end, it's a road to nowhere, and it's a big burden on the American taxpayer.

Turns out that Senator Richard Shelby has some authority to speak on being a "big burden on the American taxpayer". As of 2005, his home state of Alabama is No. 7 on the list of beneficiary states of the federal taxpayer dollar - and that amount has grown over the past decade or so. Shelby cries that this loan to the Big Three is "just the beginning", and if Alabama is any indication, perhaps he is right. They take in more and more federal taxpayer dollars, but yet keep falling behind the rest of the country.

Alabama taxpayers receive more federal funding per dollar of federal taxes paid compared to the average state. Per dollar of federal tax collected in 2005, Alabama citizens received approximately $1.66 in the way of federal spending. This ranks the state 7th highest nationally and represents a rise from 1995 when Alabama received $1.33 per dollar of taxes in federal spending (ranked 9th nationally).

And what has our investment in Alabama brought us? Senator Shelby seems to be a fountain of advice on business practices, so let's take a look at how his state fares amongst the competition. According to CNBC's "Top States for Business 2008", Alabama ranked No. 42, earning it a mention in their "Worst of the Bunch" category, scoring exceptionally low in education and quality of life. Alabama fell 5 places in one year alone - down from an overall ranking of 37 in 2007.

As far as management goes, the people that "brought them to where they are today", reports show that Shelby would do well to turn his attention to how his own state manages all that federal taxpayer generosity. Alabama earned an overall grade of C+ in the Pew Center "Grading the States '08" management report card, showing weakness in long-term outlook, structural balance and contracting/purchasing in their monetary affairs. Is this the place that America wants to look to as a model of fiscal responsibility and innovative practice?

SHELBY: We don't need government--governmental subsidies for manufacturing in this country. It's the French model, it's the wrong road, we will pay for it. The average American taxpayer is going to pay dearly for this, if I'm not wrong.

Since the "average American taxpayer" is paying dearly and subsidizing the failed policies of the state of Alabama, maybe Senator Shelby would like to refuse that extra 66¢ on the dollar and help us all out.

No? Didn't think so. "It's Still OK If You're A Republican". Thought we got rid of that sentiment on Nov. 4th, but apparently there is a bit more cleaning up to do.