Opinion

Wonder Where All the Government’s Money Goes? Look to the Lawsuits

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Posted: Sep 09, 2018 12:01 AM
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Wonder Where All the Government’s Money Goes? Look to the Lawsuits

Every governmental entity is grappling for money.  They all have gargantuan unfunded liabilities for employees’ retirement and health benefits that already are impacting their annual budgets.  The federal government has underfunded Social Security and Medicare costs.  Despite this, these governmental agencies are spending massive taxpayer sums suing each other to the detriment of us all.

Let me be clear.  Some of these lawsuits are worthy under our federalized system.  Also, these lawsuits have been initiated by members of both parties. No one is innocent here.  It just seems that since Mr. Trump has taken office, certain Democrats have ratcheted the lawsuits up into the stratosphere.  And it seems that the lawsuits come with a level of animus toward Trump that either supplements or supersedes the actual law. 

Xavier Becerra took over as Attorney General of the state of California on January 24, 2017, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to fill the remaining term of Kamala Harris, who was elected to the United States Senate.

Becerra has sued the Trump administration more than 38 times since taking office. That is an average of more than twice a month that he has filed suit against the federal government.  Many of those lawsuits were made with a consortium of 16 other states. The leaders have been Becerra and the now-defrocked New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.  

Becerra has touted his constant lawsuits as a badge of honor.   He was recently quoted as saying “Enough is enough.  We’re not looking to pick a fight with the Trump Administration, but when the stakes are this high for our families’ health and our economic prosperity, we have a responsibility to do what is necessary to defend them.” “Enough is enough” 38 times in 19 months?  

The fact is that once an AG takes office there is very little control over what they do and what they pursue.  The best form of accountability is a free press, but in what I have read the press is not pursuing basic information from these AGs.

I contacted Tania Mercado, press secretary for Mr. Becerra.  I asked three simple questions that I have not seen answered anywhere in the press:

  1. Please provide a list of the 38 lawsuits and the bases for them.
  2. Please inform us how many attorneys are working on each case.
  3. Please delineate how much money has been spent on each one of these lawsuits.

After initially responding Ms. Mercado went dark.  We have an AG acting in a rogue manner with no accountability.  Where is the legislature asking these questions?  Becerra states that the lawsuits are just a small amount of his budget and his personnel, but how do we know that if they are unwilling to provide simple information.

It is not just the cost that is incurred by California and the other states suing the federal government, it is the respondent’s (U.S. government) cost and manpower.  These are monies on both sides that are not being spent on other legal pursuits, other governmental needs or returned to taxpayers.  

Becerra and his gang tell of their court successes, but how real are those?   Anyone from the Left can find a judge on the West Coast or in the Ninth Circuit to make a ruling in their favor.   Then the federal government must pursue the case to higher courts and/or the U.S. Supreme Court.  Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching.     

It is easy to do all this when it is OPM (Other People’s Money).  How many of these lawsuits would be filed if these people had to reach into their own pockets?

The other portion of this is the adversarial atmosphere created in the country.  That has been significantly enhanced by the recent lawsuit filed by Schneiderman’s successor.  Barbara Underwood, another appointed AG, has used her position to file a lawsuit against the foundation Mr. Trump operated before he became president.  

I am not going to comment on the merit of that case, but I will make two observations. 1) It would have been unimaginable that a state AG would have pursued such a legal action against a sitting president in the past.  2) If Ms. Underwood wanted to look at private foundations in New York, I could have directed her to one that funneled far more money through it and had multiple questionable actions.  If you need some guidance, Ms. Underwood, look me up -- I am willing to help you on that. 

This is all so tawdry.  Understanding that the state attorneys general are political positions and that the populace puts them in office does not vindicate these actions.  We do not elect these individuals so that they can use our money to validate their personal political vendettas.

We the residents of these states have only one real recourse.  That is to vote these people out.  I am not under the illusion that is going to happen soon, but when you are looking at why our governments don’t have funds for basic services then look to these lawsuits as a major drain of our resources.