Nebraska-Iowa Rivalry on Display in Federal Relief Proposals
Last week Nebraska’s Representative Don Bacon (R) filed legislation aimed at helping local governments utilize the funding already allocated to states under the previously enacted CARES Acts. His bill, properly named the FLEX Act, gives states the flexibility they need (and many have asked for) to combat this crisis without spending more money. This coincides with a coalition letter the Platte Institute and John Locke Foundation have co-led with 27 other think tanks across the country asking Congress for flexibility.
Earlier this week Iowa’s Representative Cindy Axne (D) also filed a piece of legislation, except she is asking the federal taxpayer to bail out states and local governments with an additional $500 billion in spending, which some have come to call CARES 4.0.
While both agree that states and local governments face significant cuts to their budgets due to falling tax revenues associated with business closures, each is taking a very different approach. Bacon is asking for flexibility for the funds already spent while Axne is asking for more money to be spent. At a time when our nation’s deficits are rivaling WWII levels, now is not the time to spend more money.
In addition, Axne’s plan does not seem to have a clear path with the Senate or the President. Last month Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made comments about allowing states to declare bankruptcy. Ted Cruz wrote in a piece in The Hill today saying, “There is a reasonable case to be made for greater flexibility for the money we have already sent to the states and local governments.” Even President Trump has made comments on his Twitter about not bailing out poorly run states.
Flexibility is something that has garnered bi-partisan support and is a likely path forward to help our state and local communities recover from this crisis without increasing the federal debt burden on future Americans. In this game, I think Nebraska has the winning playbook with Bacon’s FLEX Act.