When visiting with constituents this past week on a number of state issues, it became obvious that the concern of most folks was not so much state happenings, as is the overall direction of our federal government. Several concerns that have been voiced to me deal with the national debt and federal spending, ObamaCare, and gun regulation.
The President hasn’t submitted a budget to Congress in four years and the United States’ Senate hasn’t passed a budget in four years. The national debt continues to grow while some in Washington debate whether we have a spending problem. Then there is sequestration. Sequestration—across-the-board cuts to government agencies—went into effect March 1. These cuts are to be a fifty-fifty split between national defense (military) and domestic discretionary spending and are to reduce federal spending by a total of $1.2 trillion over a period of ten years. We need to keep in mind that with sequestration, the federal government isn’t going to reduce its spending. Their spending is on course to reach $6 trillion by 2023, growing at just under 70% from today’s $3.6 trillion. The truth is that sequestration doesn’t cut federal spending at all; it only reduces the projected baseline increase. There is an automatic built-in spending increase of 8% each year. Sequestration will only slow the growth in federal spending and reduce this year’s built-in automatic spending increase by a little over 2%. To put all this into perspective, the federal government borrows $85 billion every 28 days, or out of every one dollar we spend, we borrow 46 cents.
Another concern on people’s minds is ObamaCare and its pending implementation. This healthcare act is set to be fully implemented in 2014. One thing we are dealing with on the state level is the possible massive Medicaid expansion. An additional 300,000 Missourians will be eligible for Medicaid under ObamaCare, and concern is being expressed as to who will fund it. Even though many in Missouri do not agree with this program, it was passed into law by Congress and upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Its impact on our state’s financial health remains to be seen, because they are still writing the act. However, ObamaCare, like most federal programs, will be extremely costly.
Another topic of interest expressed by constituents is the on-going debate about federal gun control, with its possible accompanying regulations and requirements. Concerns are that the federal government may pass legislation that will attempt to control, regulate, or confiscate guns, beginning with assault weapons, but then moving on to handguns. Many in our state, as well as in our nation, are worried that our Second Amendment rights could be radically altered or completely taken away.
There are questions about the direction in which our nation is headed. Some of those questions involve the over-reaching and unsustainable growth of the federal government, state’s rights versus the federal law, and does federal law always supersede state law?