Takeaway from Neshoba? We need to grow government.

By Aaron Rice
August 2, 2019

If you went to the Nehsoba County Fair in hopes of hearing candidates for the top offices in the state preach fiscal conservatism or ideas to shrink the size of government, you came away disappointed.

Numerous candidates – both Democrats and Republicans – spent the bulk of their time, as they have spent most of their campaigns, singing from the big government hymnal. And if they get their way next year, we could be looking at a much larger government, a larger budget, and higher taxes for all.  

The most common bi-partisan item was the need to expand Medicaid, though we have also been told there is a “Republican” way of moving more people to government insurance. We like to cite Indiana. After all, Vice President Mike Pence, the Indiana governor at the time, worked on a deal with the Obama administration known as HIP 2.0. In reality, the program is little different than every other state that has expanded Medicaid. Costs have gone up, few – if any – people are contributing, and virtually no one has been dis-enrolled. 

We’ve been told that we should do this because it’s “free money” from the feds. Regardless of a personal disdain for using the word “free” when it comes to healthcare or whatever else politicians are giving out, we know this would come at a cost to state taxpayers. There is still no such thing as a free lunch.

Estimates generally put the  additional cost at roughly $200 million per year. But as other states have shown, Medicaid expansion estimates generally balloon, leading to greater costs to the state. 

Maybe that’s why the Mississippi Republican Party passed a resolution in 2013 opposing Medicaid expansion and supporting the GOP’s attempts to resist expansion. Times have changed I suppose.  

And then there are the needs to spend more on roads and bridges. Ignoring the hundreds of millions of dollars the legislature appropriated in a special session last year or the fact that most of the troubled roads and bridges are locally controlled, there seems to be a never-ending desire to raise gas taxes. “Lots of other states are doing it so we should as well,” say the proponents. According to most of candidates at Neshoba, “It’s the only thing we can do”

Again, support for higher taxes was bi-partisan. It appears very few candidates have learned the art of saying “no.”

The truth is Mississippi doesn’t have a problem with failing to spend government funds. Said more accurately, our government officials have not been stingy when it comes to spending taxpayer money on all sorts of programs. On a per capita basis, we have one of the largest governments in the country. We have a larger government workforce than most. Government controls 55 percent of our state’s GDP. How much higher can that go? When you understand these facts, it makes the pleas for more government “investment” ring hollow.

Despite this evidence,  most candidates running for the top offices in the state don’t think government is large enough. 


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