State Rep. Dennis Richardson: Budget cuts and stimulus

Budget Cuts, Stimulus Status &
Oregon National Guard Redeployments

By State Representative Richardson,

Budget Cuts. Last night 80 citizens came to Salem to voice their concerns over cutting program budgets and government services. It was the third evening this week public hearings were held. Police officers advocated to reinstate funds for the police academy; nurses and doctors pleaded for health care funding; mothers of mentally disturbed children begged that funding for developmentally disabled programs would be spared; parents and educators implored for school funding–from infancy to university. As a group, the chorus demanded public funding notwithstanding these recessionary times; as individuals, they asked the committee to spare their favored programs and services””regardless of the consequences to others.

Stimulus Status. These are serious times. The consequences on individuals and families are real. As I write this update, the final version of the Federal Stimulus Plan has been passed by the U.S. House, and Senate passage is expected tonight. It is a $787 Billion dollar potpourri that will cost more than $1.2 Trillion to pay back when interest is included. This 1,071 page bill is the largest single financial authorization in the history of the world. It is ironic that it was passed without a single Congressman or Senator, Democrat or Republican, having had the time or the opportunity to read it. Unfortunately, the stimulus bill has morphed from a Stimulus Package into a Pork & Policy Bill. The final bill is a hodgepodge of financial allocations–everything from billions for Headstart programs for disadvantaged children and for NASA climate change research, to tax credits for buyers of plug-in electric hybrid cars ($9,100) and first time home buyers ($8,000). In short, it will cost more than a trillion dollars and do little to address the current economic crisis. If we think the Federal Stimulus Plan is expensive, just wait for the inevitable U.S. bank bail-out bill. Soon we will be told action must be taken to save our entire banking system. Knowledgeable economists are quietly disclosing that the U.S. Banking System has more bad loans than assets and is technically INSOLVENT.

Oregon National Guard Redeployments. The use of National Guard troops to fight long-term wars in foreign lands is becoming an issue in a growing number of states. The U. S. Constitution provides for Congress to call “”¦forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions,” and for the President to serve as the Commander in Chief. (U.S. Constitution Art. 1, Section 8 and Art. 2, Section 2) The Constitution does not provide that the state militias are to be at the beck and call of the President to fight any foreign conflict the President might deem appropriate. In his First Inaugural Address, President Thomas Jefferson said the following on the true purpose of our state militia:

“A well-disciplined militia, [is] our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war till regulars may relieve them”¦.” –Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801

I love and honor our soldiers, sailors, and air men and women. As a young man, I enlisted in the U.S. Army, received my training and flew helicopters in Vietnam. I have been in combat and I know the toll it takes on our young men, women and their families. We have “regular” military forces. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corp. are intended to fight our nation’s long-term, foreign wars. It is time for our Legislature and our Governor, a U.S. Marine, to stand with other state legislatures and governors and inform Congress and the President that since the Iraq-Afghanistan foreign emergency is over, further deployment of our state militias is unconstitutional. It is time for the “regulars” to take full responsibility for on-going military operations in foreign arenas. As a loyal Oregonian, I want our state militia to serve Oregon’s purposes, and not be redeployed as if the National Guard were an additional branch of our national armed forces.

Am I wrong? Am I missing something? Please let me know your opinion by answering the question, “Should the Federal Government continue to redeploy the Oregon National Guard to Iraq or Afghanistan?” (Click here to vote in this one-question Survey)

In conclusion, as Oregon’s revenues decrease, stress levels are rising in Oregon’s schools, health and human service providers, and law enforcement agencies. By the end of next week, we should know more precisely where the budget-knife will cut most deeply, and which pieces of programs and services end up on the chopping block. On the matter of our state militia, I will share the results of the survey with you in a subsequent newsletter.

Until then,
Your servant,

Dennis Richardson
State Representative