Two conservative intellectuals who had been the dominant voices in the debate over the rescue package for Flint, Mich., are now calling for cuts to the social safety net and a focus on economic growth.

The Modesto Bee reports that Dan Henninger, a Washington Post columnist and a former editorial page editor at The Wall Street Journal, said he regrets his support for the Flint initiative.

“When you look at Flint,” he told the Bee, “it looks like any number of other situations — people living in out-of-town trailer parks, shut-off utilities because they can’t pay their bills,” he said. “They’re not models of efficiency. That’s what happened in Flint.”

Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, called for reforms in social security and Obamacare, and noted that he is not advocating that people should be denied access to health care.

“My response is ‘I certainly don’t want poor people not to have health care,'” he told the Bee. “I’m a big advocate of free market health care. I just want market forces to be responsible.”

Tanner and Henninger are also major members of the Club for Growth, which is known for the slashing of social programs. However, they didn’t, as some of their opponents have noted, speak up at the time about the cuts that would have been necessary in an effort to close a $3 billion shortfall in the Flint program.

At the time of the Flint project, Michael Needham, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, applauded the decision, saying, “This package, which was backed by Republicans and Democrats, provides funding for struggling communities by addressing the crisis in its root cause — the government waste, inefficiency and corruption at the state and federal level.”

One of the the most prominent defenders of the package who was widely discussed at the time was Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, who wrote in National Review that the federal government had become complicit in the idea that criminal neglect of poor people and “the moral vanity of big governments” could not be considered a “moral disaster.”

“The nature of this moral dereliction is clear to anyone who follows the money,” he wrote. “From Flint to Washington, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicaid in California, New York, Illinois, Louisiana, and Louisiana, and the rest of the pork-laden spending projects from Georgia to Vermont, drain the swamp. When the next pandemic reaches our shores, our non-white free-care recipients can get better diagnoses and treatments than the white, free-care ones. We don’t want to drain the swamp, we want the swamp drained.”

Read the full story at The Modesto Bee.


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