Taxpayers of America, you may soon be funding a $500 billion bailout of the 50 states, all U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “HEROES Act” vividly illustrates why transparency is crucial. If the Senate passes the legislation, taxpaying citizens of financially responsible states will bear the burden of financially irresponsible states.
Illinois stands out among the bad actors. In the Land of Lincoln, a place where a young store clerk and future president once walked three miles to return six cents change to a woman he’d inadvertently overcharged, some 110,000 public employees are paid salaries or pensions in excess of $100,000. Under the Democrats’ plan, Illinois will reap $20 billion in bailout money. Despite launching the political career of “Honest Abe,” in our time Illinois is a cesspool of corruption. As a consequence of its Faustian bargain with public employee unions, the financially strapped state is flirting with junk bond status.
There, in the American heartland, Chicago’s city-employed tree trimmers make $106,663 and state correctional facility nurses take home up to $277,100. Higher education is a particularly lucrative endeavor of public service: Illinois community college presidents get nearly half-a-million dollars a year, while university doctors are compensated at packages ranging up to $2 million annually. At the state’s signature public university, the head football coach is paid $4 million — for fielding a losing team.
Thanks to such largesse, every man, woman, and child in Illinois owes $19,000 of the estimated $251 billion pension liability. An Illinois family of four now owes more in unfunded pension liabilities ($76,000) than they earn in household income ($63,585).
And that’s just the Prairie State! Remember, Pelosi’s monster bill weighs in at half a trillion dollars. Meanwhile, the federal debt continues to explode. It has quadrupled in the last 20 years. Today, has surpassed $23 trillion and is rising rapidly. The deficit this year is unknown. It will be somewhere around $4 trillion, the equivalent of a wartime deficit. The entire federal debt in 1992 — after 216 years, two world wars, depressions, countless natural disasters — was $4 trillion.
The Pelosi state bailout bill clearly screams, “So what? It’s not my money.” By the time our country’s debt becomes so corrosive to your livelihood, to your life, that it can’t be ignored — as it will — Pelosi and the big spenders in both major political parties will be long out of office.
Some “Heroes Act.” Heroes to whom? Certainly not you, the taxpayers.
At OpenTheBooks we believe that every cent of your tax dollars spent by your elected officials should be online, viewable in real-time. We believe transparency will be revolutionary. The more you, the voters, know about your elected officials’ respect (or lack thereof) for your tax dollars, the more responsible your elected officials will be, and the better our government will be.
Thomas W. Smith is the Chairman of OpenTheBooks.com.
Adam Andrzejewski is the CEO & founder of the organization.