John Hinderaker of Powerline masterfully takes apart Frank Rich’s latest screed. I hope to be this good some day.
My State Representative, Susan Lynn, has recently become a prominent figure in a movement for to “restore state sovereignty,” as described on the Tennessean’s website:
Last fall, Lynn chaired a joint Senate and House committee that sent a letter to lawmakers in the other 49 states urging them to support state sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.The invocation of the so-called states’ rights amendment led critics to say that she was trying to reopen the political battles of the 19th century, when Southern political leaders argued that states’ rights protected slavery. The argument eventually led to the concept of nullification — the idea that states could declare federal laws unenforceable within their borders.Lynn said she has not called for nullification, but she said the thinking behind nullification had merit. She said Northern states frequently resisted enforcement of federal laws such as the Fugitive Slave Act, which made it illegal to help slaves escape to free states.
Lynn is not alone in the legislature in expressing support for states’ rights positions. A 10th Amendment resolution she sponsored last year passed the House on an 85-2 vote and the Senate unanimously.
These days, Lynn frequently finds herself one of several lawmakers sponsoring bills dealing with state sovereignty.
Earlier this month, she began to push for passing the Health Care Freedom Act, a bill that would have challenged the health insurance mandate. But before a hearing was held on that measure, the Senate passed the Tennessee Health Freedom Act, a similar measure sponsored by Beavers.
Lynn is now pushing for an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution that would declare a health insurance mandate illegal in Tennessee. For her, the mandate is simply another example of the federal government overreaching.
“They want to pass state laws that are really in the purview of the states,” she said. “And I just think, if they want to be state legislators, they ought to run for the state legislature.”
Now let me say that I am fully in favor of restoring some balance to our Federalist system and putting some meaning back into the Tenth Amendment. However, I want the methods for accomplishing this to be the most effective, and I have doubts that any rhetoric that invokes “states’ rights” is going to be able to escape the baggage of history. It is too easy for the proponents of Statism in the media to summon up images of either the Civil War or the Civil Rights era. Also, there is nearly two centuries of precedent for Federal Supremacy that has increasingly been interpreted to narrow state powers. Not that this is a bad thing: Federal Supremacy is a necessary and important principle, that preserves the Union. But the trend has been toward centralization under Federal power, for a long time, under administrations of both parties. Fighting that in the courts, as appears to be part of Lynn’s strategy, seems a losing proposition.
So how do we convince the big moderate middle that we are not evil conservatives bent on restoring Jim Crow laws? How do win the rhetorical battle? Some things we might emphasize:
- The States as “laboratories”: Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote that the individual states could serve as laboratories to try out novel policies without risk to the rest of the country. Americans love innovation. Conservatives should emphasize that devolving responsibilities back to the states would allow more diversity and innovation in policy.
- In a Big Country: There is no reason why a nation as large and diverse as the US should do things the same all over. Massachusetts is not Georgia and is not Colorado, or Minnesota, either. Each state has its own character, and should be free to order its own polity.
- The Zeitgeist: Centralization into large bureaucratic institutions was the norm for the 20th Century, but the new paradigm is for smaller firms and individuals networked together through technology. In an age of public debt and budget constraints, governments as well as businesses need to learn to get away from cumbersome bureaucracy and learn to be more flexible and responsive.
The results of this study by Forbes magazine held no surprises to me:
The five states in the worst financial condition–Illinois, New York, Connecticut, California and New Jersey–are all among the bluest of blue states. The five most fiscally fit states are more of a mix. Three–Utah, Nebraska and Texas–boast Republican majorities and two–New Hampshire and Virginia–skew Democratic….
Of the 10 states in the worst financial condition, eight are among a total of 23 defined by Gallup as “solidly Democratic,” meaning the Democrats enjoy an advantage of 10 percentage points or greater in party affiliation. These states include the ones listed above as making up the bottom five, plus Massachusetts, Ohio and Wisconsin….Seven of the 10 most Republican states rank in the top half in terms of fiscal fitness.
What could possibly explain this correlation?
It comes down to stronger unions and a larger appetite for public programs, according to Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political studies and public affairs at the University of Illinois’ Center for State Policy and Leadership…..”Unions in general have more influence in Democratic-controlled states,” he says. “This isn’t to say that unions are bad, but where they’re strong you have bigger demands for social services and coalitions with construction companies, road builders and others that push up debt.”
Interestingly enough, the states with the worst fiscal health in this study, are also among the states with the highest tax burdens:
Dafydd ab Hugh at Hot Air has a great analysis:
The House version of ObamaCare — the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) — passed on November 7th last year in a vote of 220-215. Ordinarily, 218 Yeas are required to pass a bill in the House; but since that vote, three representatives have left Congress, one of them horizontally. With only 432 current members, the magic number for a majority is 217 (216 is only 50%, which is not a majority).
The three who left are all Democrats who voted for the House version of ObamaCare the first time around: retirees Robert Wexler (FL) and Neil Abercrombie (HI), and John Murtha (PA), who left feet first this month. In addition, Rep. Ahn “Joseph” Cao (R-LA, not yet rated), the only Republican to vote for the bill, has since repudiated that vote and says he will certainly vote against the Senate/reconciliation version of ObamaCare when that comes up for a vote. So Pelosi starts with only 216 of the necessary 217 votes.
We know for certain that unless the Senate agrees in advance to the Stupak Amendment, which bans any and all federal funding of abortion (and even funding of insurance carriers who pay for abortions), Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI, 90%) will also vote against it; he has too much “face” bound up in that prohibition to overlook it. I consider it virtually impossible that the Senate would agree to a Stupak Amendment, so that drops the number of Yeas to 215.
Thus the real question is this: Can Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) bully enough Democratic former Nays to switch to Yeas so that the total will be two higher than the number of Yeas who switch to Nays? In other words, if 20 of the 40 Stupakers vote Nay on the Senate version, then Pelosi must scrounge up 22 representatives who voted Nay last time to vote Yea instead. Otherwise, she has less than the 217 needed.
Read the whole thing.