Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The 10th Amendment, State Sovereignty, and Stimulus Skeptics

Something seems to be going on. A few days ago, I posted about Governor Bobby Jindal (R) of Louisiana rejecting some federal stimulus money. Now here is a headline about Governor Phil Bredesen (D) of Tennessee considering a rejection of some stimulus funds also. Both governors cite concerns that taking money now will end up creating consequences down the road. Breseden is concerned that taking the money will mean having to raise taxes on businesses in the future. He doesn't seem to think that raising taxes on businesses is such a good idea in a time of economic trouble. Hmmm!!!! Ya think?

Anyway, I had wondered out loud in the other post: What DOES happen when states actually refuse federal stimulus money? Will the big government-cheerleaders in DC flip out and try to insist? There's such a thing as "states' rights," after all.

Now here is a report that 11 states have passed resolutions asserting their 10th Amendment rights. There are various ways to interpret this, but the very fact that the states felt the need to re-assert their rights is interesting. Do they -- like your humble blog hostess -- think that the federal government is getting too big, that its ongoing expansion (and power creep) could become intolerable?

The 11 states are both red and blue: Arizona, California, Georgia, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington. On top of this, you can add the skeptical governors of Louisiana (a Republican) and Tennessee (a Democrat). Add the handful of other governors who have expressed reservations about stimulus money. (UPDATE: Tennessee has a 10th Amendment resolution on the way, dated February 18.)

Somehow I don't think this is quite what Obama had in mind in all his starry-eyed HOPECHANGE speeches about unity and bipartisanship and such.

Basically, all this seems to be, fundamentally, declaring that states are perfectly within their rights to reject stimulus money if they so choose. "Thanks but no thanks." Frankly, part of me thinks this is a thrilling prospect because the stimulus plan was horrible to begin with, and if states have more sense than DC and therefore refuse to take part, then fine -- let the states try to handle themselves.

Meanwhile, the state/federal divide is starting to look alive in a way that it hasn't been in my memory. It's oddly ironic, really. Obama's been so busy trying to wrap himself in the memory of Abraham Lincoln -- and hey! the whole state/federal issue was rather relevant back then too. At least this time around, it's people talking and throwing Chicago Tea Parties and passing resolutions in state legislatures. It's all very polite, really.

Still, is it time for everybody to go re-read the 10th Amendment? Maybe! Oh, what exactly is the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution? Here you go for your convenience:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
At its heart is that novel idea of -- *gasp* can it be? -- limiting the central government.

Wow, I guess that stimulus bill is really stimulating after all -- as in, it's stimulating practically everything EXCEPT the economy.

UPDATE: The Indiana general assembly has apparently introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 0037, which in part says this:
"A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION urging the honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled, and the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives of each State's legislature of the United States of America to cease and desist, effective immediately, any and all mandates that are beyond the scope of their constitutionally delegated power."
Is this for real? Seems so. I traced it all the way back through the general assembly website. What's going on in Indiana? The resolution then goes on to quote Madison, Jefferson, and Hamilton. Niiiiiice.

No comments: