There is thus no record of how or if these funds improved the long-term fiscal stability of the states--although the fact that they are back five years later asking for an exponentially larger aid package would seem to answer the latter portion of that question. Nor do we have any data that would identify what has worked, and not worked, in the way of emergency federal assistance.
Fifty years ago, General Motors' President Charles Wilson told Congress, "What's good for the country is good for General Motors, and vice versa." Providing GM and Chrysler with bailout funds in exchange for a detailed accounting of how they would leverage this aid to become competitive again was good for the country and for the domestic automobile industry, particularly considering the alternatives. Asking the same of the states and those that follow them in the bailout brigade would be too.
Frank Micciche is deputy director of the New America Foundation's Next Social Contract Initiative.