William F. B. O'Reilly is a Republican consultant.
Who put a "kick me" sign on New York's back?
Oh wait, we did.
We do it every two years when we elect members of Congress who vote to expand the scope of the federal government, which is pretty much all of them.
It's well know that New York gets less money back from Washington than it sends down there every year. We've always accepted that with a shrug. But now that we need some of the money back for superstorm Sandy repairs and other expensive capital projects, the green eyeshade bureaucrats in D.C. are hemming and hawing. Instead of rattling a tin cup before them, we should be hanging the ingrates upside down by their breeches to shake the change from their pockets.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to issue a report on the money disparity between New York and Washington every couple of years. In his day, we got back 80-something cents on the dollar, depending on the year. Now we get 79 cents. In other words, every dollar we receive from Washington costs us $1.21. And we're supposed to be one of the best educated states in America?
Every election cycle the political left ridicules Republican-voting states for hypocrisy in electing candidates who call for less federal spending. That's outrageous. They should be ridiculing them for stupidity.
Mississippians get better than a 100 percent return ($2.02) on every dollar they send up the Potomac. Alaskans get $1.84; North Dakotans, $1.68. And they're objecting?
I always laugh around election time when New York's members of Congress -- in both parties -- begin "bringing home the bacon." The funding sounds great in press releases, but the headlines don't read what they should: "Congressman Jones Taken to the Cleaners for Little League Scoreboard" or "Johnson Scores $100 Million Bridge for $121 Million."
Speaking of bridges, the situation involving the Tappan Zee Bridge may be the most galling. For decades, Westchester and Rockland County taxpayers, whose shores the spire spans, have been sending billions of dollars more in tax revenue to Albany and Washington than they get back. All the while, the Tappan Zee was known to be deteriorating.
And now that plans are on the table for a brand new bridge, what is Washington's stance? Maybe -- just maybe -- they will loan some of the money to us for a new bridge. With interest.
I don't know if there is an expression for that sort of insult in Washington, but here in New York, if you'll pardon the vulgarity of the term, we call it a bitchslap.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo raised eyebrows last week when he called on the Obama administration to deliver $30 billion to New York for Sandy relief. The governor made his call just before the president was scheduled to arrive in New York to survey damage, and some questioned the governor's judgment or motives in putting President Barack Obama on the spot.
How about fairness?
The intrinsic problem with the federal government for donor states like New York is the federal system itself. If New York is to get a new bridge, then what is Arkansas or Hawaii or New Mexico to get in return? That's the type of thinking that costs us -- that sends millions in post 9/11 anti-terrorism funding to states like Idaho that, dollars to donuts, al-Qaida couldn't find on a map.
But in Sandy's case, the governor correctly realizes, only states hit by the superstorm will be receiving FEMA funding, so why shouldn't New York ask big, as big as possible under the circumstances? Thirty billion is a pittance compared with the magnanimity New York taxpayers shower on other states year in and year out.
Lest we feel too foolish for the transfusion of wealth we pump south to Washington every day, we need only look across the Hudson for solace.
The biggest loser among states in America? New Jersey. It gets just 61 cents back on every dollar it sends the feds.
William F. B. O'Reilly is a Newsday columnist and a Republican political consultant.