It appears that officials in three states--Illinois, Montana, and Colorado--are salivating over the hope of landing a federal contract to house some of the remaining Gitmo detainees. The reason for such desperation appears mostly to be driven by desperate economics. Amid reports this weekend that President Obama's home state of Illinois is hoping to sell a prison facility to the federal government, the acting governor and senior senator from that state are calling it a "prize to be won." Here's how the Associated Press put it in their report:
"In the midst of this recession, this is the good news we have been hoping for and waiting for and now we have to capitalize on it. The competition's on," Durbin told reporters Sunday. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." ... The Democratic officials said the conversion could pump up to $1 billion into the local economy over four years and generate more than 3,000 jobs. That's potentially good economic news for the state that lost out on its bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.
As the Democrats involved now tell it, the facility would not be of any threat to the state since they claim it would hold no more than 100 detainees.
I guess the logical questions are many. Here are three that come to mind:
1. Isn't a billion dollars a little steep to be spending of other people's money to create 3,000 jobs? (That's over $300,000 per job created.)
2. In putting terrorists on the soil of your home state don't you put your residents at greater risk?
3. Shouldn't the voters of a state have the chance to weigh in on something of this magnitude?
If the creation of new jobs is truly a priority for this administration, as opposed to merely "saving" some, there are less expensive ways to go about doing it.
According to the MSA Report from the Illinois Coalition for Jobs in 2006 -- at the height of the small business tax relief passed by the previous administration -- rural Illinois, without spending any federal dollars saw over 11,600 jobs created simply from the month of April 2006 to May 2006.
I agree that job creation should be the single most important priority for the administration at present. But billions in spending to political cronies in the president's home state seems way too costly at this time to be the right thing to do. Especially when so much more could be done to create those jobs by merely extending the help that small businesses so desperately need.
Kevin McCullough is the nationally syndicated host of "'Baldwin/McCullough Radio" now heard on 197 stations and columnist based in New York. He blogs at www.muscleheadrevolution.com. His second book "The Kind Of MAN Every Man SHOULD Be" is in stores now.