The rush in Washington for the new Congress to do something about the economy will have consequences in Mississippi.
The rub is that no one can say for sure whether, on balance, adding debt will provide the spark that commerce is believed to need.
Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, the two Republicans Mississippi voters sent to the U.S. Senate stood foursquare against the package. The state’s House delegation split when the bill passed 244-188 with a price tag then guesstimated at $819 billion on Jan 28. Freshman Rep. Gregg Harper of District 3 joined his fellow Republicans in their unanimous opposition. They were joined by 11 Democrats, including Rep. Gene Taylor of District 4. Freshman Rep. Travis Childers of District 1 and Rep. Bennie Thompson of District 2 joined their follow Democrats who have a commanding majority in the chamber.
Gov. Haley Barbour told the Wall Street Journal that cash directly allocated to Mississippi to cover state shortfalls this budget year or next budget year wouldn’t really be doing the state any favors. “A lot of this is just crazy,” Barbour is quoted as saying. “I’ll tell you what I told (Obama) in front of 45 governors. Don’t give me $400 million of one-time money and make me spend it on recurring expenses. I’m better off not to get it.”
The statement reflect’s Barbour’s long-held view that governments, like people, should learn to live within their means during boom and bust cycles. It does not reflect a belief that federal money is bad for states. After all, Barbour wrested billions more from Congress for Hurricane Katrina rebuilding than had ever been provided for civilian relief. And, in the same article, Barbour indicated “infrastructure” money could be a good thing. “The idea of long-term capital improvements is a lot better than just giving every state a blank check, ” he said.