May 21, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

VOICES: Federal Money in Your County, Courson on Stopping Obamacare


Kinziger: Don’t Take the Money!

More than $18 million from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) comes to South Carolina’s Department of Commerce. The money comes in the form of “Community Development Block Grants”; the purpose, originated by the federally appointed Council of Governors, is to enhance the economies of poorer, typically rural, areas of the state – especially unincorporated areas.

The problem is this: Once federal dollars flow to an area, the county or municipal government no longer controls the zoning laws. In Westchester County, New York, for example, the county has become so dependent on federal money that HUD can force the county to alter its laws in order to reflect the allegedly progressive ideals of “fair housing” and “non-discrimination.” The county has no choice but to do as Washington commands.

Is federal control of local laws the real aim of these grants? It certainly looks that way.

Of course, the stated purpose sounds far more innocuous. “The CDBG program works to ensure decent affordable housing, to provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities, and to create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses. CDBG is an important tool for helping local governments tackle serious challenges facing their communities.”

Eligible projects include downtown streetscape infrastructure, bike paths, community gardens, police and fire substations in lower/middle income neighborhoods, health clinic facilities in underserved areas – all nice-sounding things.

But if these are indeed essential things, local governments should be paying for them instead of blowing taxpayer money on “job incubators,” downtown parks that nobody uses, and other wasteful budget-busters. Inviting the federal government to pay for them only encourages local governments to spend money on non-core items that add to localities’ responsibilities – setting them up for disasters when federal funds aren’t available anymore.

Not only that, but federal money invites federal control. The current administration’s HUD has been even further radicalized than it was already, and you can be assured that when your town or county accepts HUD dollars, your elected officials are going to have to implement HUD priorities.

Then, of course, there’s the cost. The federal government is $17 trillion in debt. We are all federal taxpayers. We can’t afford a few extra millions on nice-sounding things that our local governments are capable of paying for themselves.

In York County, officials have taken Community Development Block Grants before – in one case they hired an engineering firm for $250,000 to make the pitch. But more recently – and with a wiser citizenry – we’ve fought these federal grants and won.

Our message to other counties: Don’t be fooled.

—Paula Kinziger

Email from Sen. John Courson on Obamacare

[Editor’s note: The following email was forwarded to use from a constituent of Sen. John Courson (R-Richland). The constituent had written to Sen. Courson to urge him to vote for Sen. Tom Davis’ amendment to H.3101, a bill aimed at halting the implementation of Obamacare in South Carolina.]

Mr. Gill,

When I was elected, my first action was to take the oath of office, and that oath is something I take very seriously. With that oath, I swore to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States.

I also personally took an oath when I joined the Marine Corps to defend the U.S. Constitution. I am  proud to be an American and a United States Marine. The six members of the South Carolina Senate who had the honor to wear the uniform of the Armed Forces of the United States all voted against H.3101.

Regardless of individual opinions, the Affordable Care Act has been ruled constitutional and is the law of the land. It is our sworn duty to abide by and uphold the Constitution, even in cases when you might not agree with the law. This federal law is abhorrent and overreaching, and our state is doing everything we can legally do to oppose ObamaCare. Specifically, the two biggest things South Carolina has done to push back on federal overreach is by refusing to establish a state exchange and refusing to expand Medicaid.

I supported Sen. Davis’s  efforts to amend H.3101 in order to make it constitutionally sound, but that amendment was determined to be out of order by Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell. As the former leader of the Senate, our Lt. Governor understands the importance of the rules of order better than anyone, and his judgment was made strictly following the letter of the law. Since the Davis amendments were struck down, we were left only with the option of supporting the original version of H.3101, which attempts to nullify federal law in South Carolina. There has been a flood of misinformation about what South Carolina can and cannot do as it pertains to nullification, but in his own words, Sen. Davis dismissed the idea in The State Newspaper on January 8, 2014.

On a personal note I am the last elected official in South Carolina to have served President Ronald W. Reagan in leadership positions. I was honored to have been a delegate to multiple Republican National Conventions supporting his Presidential Candidacy. I served as a member of the Presidential Electoral College in 1980 and 1984 for South Carolina and on his Presidential Transition team after his 1980 election to become our 40th President. I think he was without question one of our greatest Presidents.

Kind regards,
John Courson
SC Senator

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