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Can we afford this?

Not having enough in your paycheck to cover monthly budget items has become a reality for most Americans. A trip to Publix today is almost as expensive as a car payment. Filling up your gas tank has become an anxiety-inducing event. Making it from month to month is becoming increasingly difficult.

In times of financial hardship have you ever taken a cash advance from your credit card? It seems like a solution to get you through the immediate crisis. But, when that bill arrives the following month that crisis has returned and worsened.

We the taxpayers are the issuers of our government’s credit card. When this credit card is used to take a cash advance, we all suffer the impact when the bill arrives.

Last year that credit card was used to take a $1.9 trillion dollar cash advance – money borrowed by the federal government to increase the already record-level national debt.

The federal government sent the money it borrowed to state and local governments.

Jacksonville received $186,032,681 from that cash advance and used $30 million to give “premium” pay raises to city employees.

Last year the federal American Rescue Plan funding did allow for a one-time payment to all employees of $2,500. The budget for that was about $20 million, but it did not change the base salary. However, last year they also appropriated around $10 million of the federal rescue plan dollars for anticipated contractual pay raises. This was originally budgeted at $20 million but then lowered.

What that means is, the city used a one-time payment for a recurring cost, which is almost always bad fiscal policy. Council auditors questioned the move.

The $10 million expense will remain in the budget every year forever, but the source of the funds will not. It will have to come from local taxpayers.

What happens in Washington, D.C., might seem irrelevant to your daily life. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that taxpayers can’t afford the bill for the credit card we have given the government.

James Carafano

James Jay Carafano is a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges. He is the Vice President of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC. Carafano is an accomplished historian and teacher as well as a prolific writer and researcher.


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