Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Spending The Nest Egg on Fear [updated]

Prince William County is considering one of the most disasterous fiscal policies of our time: spending its cash reserves to enforce an anti-immigrant policies.
On Tuesday, the Board of County Supervisors will consider transferring nearly $800,000 from its reserves to the Prince William Police Department to enforce its anti-illegal immigrant resolution enacted last year. That will nearly wipe out the county's reserves this fiscal year, which ends in June. - The Washington Post
Prince William is already experiencing a total collapse in its housing market as a result of its anti-immigrant policies. This has cause a gigantic hole in the County budget, with no revenue available to enforce their anti-migrant policies. Thus, the tapping of the entire 2007 reserve.

In light of the election of 2007, and voter preferences, this might be slightly defensible if only on the grounds that a bare majority of citizens want the Supervisors to do whatever it takes to enforce anti-immigrant policies. But as fiscal policy, it is a nightmare. Supervisors are elected to be stewards of the public trust and the public purse, and spending a County's cash reserves is neither. This kind of wonton spending on policies that do not yield a stronger and broader tax base in the future is what drives counties into bankruptcy. And if Prince William County goes bankrupt, all of Virginia's tax payers will pay the price in lower bond ratings, higher taxes for a bailout, and the significant reduction in county services there.

Prince William County ought not spend its cash reserves on enforcement of anti-immigrant policies. It should not throw money at fear.

[update] Kos has a thing or two to say in The Hill.
Polls reveal that few voters outside of a loud fringe minority will reward immigrant bashing. A CBS News poll this past week asking people to rate “the most important problem facing this country today” found a scant 4 percent of Americans selecting “immigration.“

More important than polls are actual election results — and these, too, indicate that you can’t win by beating on immigrants. Conservatives in 2006 who ran anti-immigrant campaigns lost big, as congressmen J.D. Hayworth (Ariz.) and John Hostettler (Ind.) can attest. Republican challengers who tried the immigrant-bashing route failed miserably.
Now, many Americans agree immigration is a problem, yet most support comprehensive reform that would offer an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants such as McCain-Kennedy offered. During the debate over that measure, a Los Angeles Times poll found that 63 percent of Americans supported the bill. A CBS News poll pegged support at 77 percent.

So while the public is concerned about immigration and wants a solution, the solutions preferred are practical ones, nowhere near as reactionary as those proposed by the rabid anti-immigrant zealots. - Markos, The Hill

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