Steinberg Rings Usual Alarm that Spending Cuts “Will Only Hurt the Poor”


Written by John Jay

Liberal media pundits are up to their usual tricks by chastising proposed budget cuts as “hurting our most vulnerable” in typical boogeyman alarmist fashion.

Anytime a reformist finally gets elected to clean up a decades-long mess that’s been simmering in any state capitol, state bureaucrats and progressives dig in to resist any change of the status quo.

Step in the Chicago Sun-TimesNeil Steinberg:

Illinois was 50th out of 50 before. 

Dead last, of the 50 states, behind Mississippi, behind Alabama, behind Texas, for services to help people with disabilities live independently. 

That was five years ago. 

Now dig a hole, because Illinois is going lower, as Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new budget, unveiled Wednesday, chokes off help to Illinoisans struggling to get by.

Steinberg then rattles off an endless list of people “afraid of what’s coming” in Rauner’s proposed budget without pointing to any specific cuts that would adversely affect any of these people quoted in his column.

Evidently, there’s no such thing as government waste, fraud or abuse according to progressive statists like Steinberg.

He brings up Medicaid, for instance, without following up with the critical fact that numerous audits have revealed it’s a program rife with fraud and abuse. Consider the fact that more than 8,000 dead people are still receiving Illinois Medicaid benefits at last count, while more than half (51.3%) of all Medicaid recipients in the state are ineligibly receiving what’s supposed to be a means-tested welfare aid.

But there’s one critical passage that highlights a key difference between free market supporters who trust private charities to take care of our most vulnerable and those paternalistic bureaucrats who’d rather have government displace civil society as the source of any support.

Like many private charities, Misericordia, uses public funding, and when that falls short, must make it up the difference with private donations. Last year that meant finding $15 million in donations. With the new budget, that jumps to $21 million.

If Misercordia could raise the $15 million in private donations last year to make up a shortfall, what makes Steinberg think they couldn’t raise the $21 million this year (if that’s indeed how much they actually would need)?

“The welfare system,” as Milton Friedman once explained, “has destroyed private charitable arrangements that are far more effective, far more compassionate, far more person-to-person in helping people who are really, for no fault of their own, in a disadvantaged situation.” Freer economies, on the other hand, both leave citizens with more money to give to the charities of their choosing, and foster a sense of individual responsibility towards the less fortunate – as opposed to a sense that it is the state’s responsibility to care for the poor and downtrodden.

When free people and beneficiaries of free enterprise choose to support the causes they love, they are far more generous, whereas when the government purports to “take care of everyone,” no one feels the need to give.

But Steinberg provides vivid illustration of a rather naïve and misinformed perspective that only the state can fill that role and cutting public spending anywhere within the system will lead to “catastrophic consequences.”

And while Steinberg points out the “50 out of 50” stat “for services to help people with disabilities live independently,” he conveniently leaves out some other critical 50 out of 50 rankings for the Prairie State, such as:

But there is one area where Illinois ranks No. 1 according to Gallup: Most residents (fully 50%) “who would leave their state tomorrow if they could.”

Tell that to Steinberg and other liberal media pundits who demonize those reformers who propose desperately needed changes to finally present solutions to improve Illinois’ disturbing rankings.

We’ll continue following the press coverage.

This article was originally posted at the website.