New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is worried that governors will respond to the fiscal crisis in the way that Herbert Hoover did -- by balancing their budgets with severe cuts in social programs. (Gov. Beebe is not among the neoHoovers Krugman mentions.) He asks the big question: why do we pay for essential services the way we do?
As a nation, we don’t believe that our fellow citizens should go without essential health care. Why, then, does a large share of funding for Medicaid come from state governments, which are forced to cut the program precisely when it’s needed most?
An educated population is a national resource. Why, then, is basic education mainly paid for by local governments, which are forced to neglect the next generation every time the economy hits a rough patch?
And why should investments in infrastructure, which will serve the nation for decades, be at the mercy of short-run fluctuations in local budgets?