Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Health | Opinion
Mark Trahant: Shrinking government and Indian health spending


"No matter who wins the coming election it’s pretty clear that government at all levels will reduce their number of employees. The federal government is the largest U.S. employer with some 2 million civilian workers; state and local governments employ another 16-plus million folks. (Federal employment, as a ratio of employees to Americans, has been declining steadily since 1953 and state governments have cut some 242,000 jobs since August 2008.) State government budgets are in far worse shape than the headlines – partly because of temporary federal support and partly because of gimmicks (like not paying bills or hiding pension obligations) that only work for a while. The key is that state budgets are not sustainable when you match revenues against the promises made to a variety of constituents.

But consider what a shrinking government means in the context of unemployment. Already there are roughly five applicants for every job opening; a number that will grow when governments layoff more people.

These trends will have profound implications for Indian Country and tribal governments down the road. On the plus side, smaller county governments might be more inclined to work with tribes as a way to serve (look at the number of police and sheriff’s offices saying budget cuts no longer allow them to cover their geographical areas). On the other hand, tribes are not immune from shrinking revenue and budget cuts.

And it’s not just government that’s doing less.

Many of us are in the position of earning less – sometimes making substantially less than we did before the recession started. To make our household budgets work, most of us cut back our spending."

Get the Story:
Telling a story about less (Mark Trahant 9/13)

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