To the Feds: Keep your hands out of our pockets |

To the Feds: Keep your hands out of our pockets

Potential good news came out of Washington last week for the future of the Lake Tahoe Basin when a planned federal government raid of funds from land sales in Nevada was rejected by the Senate Budget Committee.

We say potential because the Bush administration still wants to get its hands on the money as part of a plan to help relieve the federal deficit. Under the proposal, a portion of land sales money would go into federal coffers, instead of where it was designed to go: Here.

Nevada’s powerful senate presence – John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) – flexed its muscles last week to have the provision dropped. Strong lobbying by Ensign helped ensure that the fight for money previously earmarked for improvement projects at Lake Tahoe doesn’t disappear forever. The chances of the proposal being revived in the near future seem unlikely.

The administration’s argument to earmark the money for deficit reduction is that Nevada land sales have far exceeded projections. But that argument lacks conviction: The federal deficit too has far exceeded expectations, and Lake Tahoe residents and visitors should not pay the price for the federal government’s proclivity to spend without restraint.

Tough economic times, tax cuts, Medicaid spending and an expensive war have helped put the federal government in financial peril, but compromising the future health of Lake Tahoe, both as a tourist destination and a national ecological treasure, is not worth it. If the federal government is serious about reducing debt, it should start with significant spending reductions, a concept that has apparently been lost in the halls of congress and the White House.

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