federalism

Freedom Groups Oppose RAWA as Assault on Federalism

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It came up in last night’s GOP presidential debate, this issue of online fantasy sports sites and how — or if — those sites should be regulated as online gambling sites. Several conservative and liberty-oriented grass-roots organizations have already sent a letter to Congress urging the House Judiciary Committee to defeat an effort to impose federal regulations on gambling. That effort, called the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill, is sponsored in the House by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and in the Senate by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). RAWA is supported strongly by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has donated to the campaigns of the sponsors of the bill.

The coalition of groups, including the Campaign for Liberty, the Council of Citizens Against Government Waste and several others, sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee urging them to defeat RAWA.

The October 27, 2015 letter stated that RAWA “would trample the rights of states, open the door to regulation [of] the Internet and is a textbook example of cronyism. Over twenty conservative and liberty-minded organizations have voiced their opposition to the legislation. Recent news pertaining to fantasy sports sites like Fan Duel and Draft Kings speak strongly to the idea that this is better left to the states that tend to have tough regulatory schemes.”

Inverted Federalism: How Washington bribes and shackles your state with your own tax dollars

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Conservatives and libertarians complain about the perversion of American federalism over the last 75-100 years. Everything has become a national issue, and federal tax dollars support even the smallest local projects, either directly through grants or indirectly by subsidizing some projects, which frees up local funds for others. Since the source is far removed from the recipient, often this funding is wasteful, not really needed, or dubiously requested. We don’t usually get to see this problem up close, but I did today.

This morning my wife and I brought my eldest child to school for the first time for testing and registration. There were a stack of forms to fill out about the handbook, riding the bus, behavior, school lunches, and residency. The last two were the focus of the registrant’s particular attention. We explained to her that while we are selling our house and planning to build a new one we are living with relatives temporarily. “Oh!”, she said. In that case, we should apply for a federal homeless student program “because it will bring in more federal money.”

Oh?

We’re not actually homeless, though. Not even close. We live in a very nice home while its owners are out of town on business most of the time and until we build our own. But when confronted with this situation, a public school official’s first instinct was to turn it into a hardship case to take advantage of federal largesse.

The War Over the Confederate Battle Flag Escalates

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It’s a shame it took the violent deaths of nine people to do it, but it looks like 150 years after the end of the Civil War the days of the Confederate battle flag are finally coming to an end. South Carolina, where the racist massacre occurred is swiftly moving to take down the flag outside their state capitol. Lawmakers in Virginia and Missisippi are proposing similar action to remove the symbol from their official state business.

This is fantastic news. State governments have no business using the symbol of a treasonous and racially-motivated war, no matter how much they try to spin it as part of their “heritage”. The Confederacy should be a period of shame, not pride, to any moral and especially Christian southerners. Its relics belong in museums to remind us of the darkest moments of our past, not as part of our current identity on state flags, license plates, capitol buildings, and the honorific names of schools, military bases, and other government buildings.

Republican Presidential Candidates are Being Asked the Wrong Question on Weed

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A common question of potential Republican presidential candidates for 2016 at CPAC this year was whether they support Colorado and other states partially legalizing recreational marijuana. They have mostly given the right answer, but to the wrong question.

In a Q&A following his CPAC speech, Ted Cruz was asked and answered thusly:

I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the laboratories of democracy. If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I personally don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.

Jeb Bush answered similarly:

I thought it was a bad idea, but states ought to have that right to do it. I would have voted no if I was in Colorado.

It’s 2015. Almost no one thinks states don’t have the right to legalize marijuana if they so choose. And since they’re Republicans, none of the candidates who were asked about it actually support the legalization itself, just the right to do so. That’s not newsworthy. (The worthless question could have something to do with the affable rube who asked it.)

If we really want to get to the heart of the issue, reporters and debate moderators are going to have to start asking a different question:

Here’s how Republicans can fix their terrible State of the Union responses

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This author will not waste time explaining how useless and obscene the annual State of the Union royal pageant is, nor how full of untruths, crushing debt, inviable proposals, and unfunded liabilities President Obama’s most recent iteration of the speech was this week. Instead, I’ll focus on the official Republican response given this year by newly elected US Senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst. If you can call it that.

As Shep Smith and Chris Wallace noted on the Fox News broadcast syndicated to their local affiliates, Obama spent several minutes than previous years after his delivery shaking hands in the chamber. This meant that the GOP response, officially scheduled for 5 minutes after the president leaves the room, would be pushed into local news broadcasts and therefore probably cut off in most television viewing markets. Intentional or not, that didn’t even give Republicans a chance to have their message heard, regardless of how good it may have been.

Fulfilling Reagan’s Promise? Republicans set their sights on No Child Left Behind

Dept of Education

During Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, he campaigned in favor of abolishing the Department of Education, which had been established in 1979 by then-President Jimmy Carter. The New American published a pretty lengthy piece in 2012 about why Reagan couldn’t actually abolish the Department during his two terms in office.

But the idea didn’t die with the end of the Reagan Administration. The issue arose again in 1996 with Bob Dole’s presidential campaign. At a campaign stop in Georgia, Dole said, “We’re going to cut out the Department of Education.” According to a 2004 WND article, the Republican Platform in 1996 read:

Our formula is as simple as it is sweeping: The federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the workplace. That is why we will abolish the Department of Education, end federal meddling in our schools, and promote family choice at all levels of learning.

 

We therefore call for prompt repeal of the Goals 2000 program and the School-To-Work Act of 1994, which put new federal controls, as well as unfunded mandates, on the States. We further urge that federal attempts to impose outcome- or performance-based education on local schools be ended.

Readers here know what happened next. Dole lost. And federal influence over the education system expanded under Republican President George W. Bush under the auspices of “No Child Left Behind.” This legislation has raised conservatives’ ire since its passage.

Health Care Compact: Let states take the reins of health care away from the federal government

In April, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, a Republican, signed into law the national Health Care Compact, making the Sunflower State the ninth to embrace the bold new idea.

And what, you ask, is the Health Care Compact? It’s a proposal to allow participating states to take the reins of health care away from the federal government while reducing overall federal health spending.

A shorter description for this idea is “devolution,” and it’s exactly what we’ll need, if we’re ever going to get control of federal spending and debt.

This is the most creative and exciting policy proposal in a generation. It has to be approved by Congress, and is far from perfect, but in my humble opinion every American should get behind it.

As I mentioned, nine states have signed on, so far: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

Meanwhile, James Lankford, a Republican representing Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District, introduced a bill in February to approve the HCC. It currently has 12 sponsors, all of them Republicans and all of them representing states that have approved the compact.

How It Would Work

The brainchild of Houston conservative activist Leo Linbeck III, the HCC cleverly combines two existing ideas, interstate compacts and federal block grants, in a way that can fairly be described as revolutionary.

E-Verify is not comparable to voter ID

There are many thorny and complex issues in the immigration debate. In a lively Twitter discussion on Thursday, I was discussing work authorization, specifically E-Verify, the national electronic database whereby employers check prospective hires for work eligibility. Midway through this discussion, someone compared it to voter ID requirements, implying a consistent position would be to support both.

On its face this seems like a reasonable consideration. If you want to make sure people are legally authorized to vote, you should also want to make sure they are legally authorized to work, right? Upon futher reflection it becomes clear that these two measures aren’t really very similar, and arguments based on their comparison are dubious at best.

Voter ID is a requirement to access a public civic institution, but E-Verify is a mandate on private businesses. Employers have to screen every applicant for citizenship or work permit status before hiring them. One of the talking points of E-Verify opponents is that it makes every employer a de facto immigration officer and passes the buck of law enforcement to private entities. While actual border enforcement and maintenance of the E-Verify database would remain a federal responsibility, employers would face penalties, perhaps even worse than the unauthorized applicants themselves, for not using the system or violating it.

Everyone’s ideas are racist except mine

There are a few ways that a policy gets to be called racist: it is intended to negatively affect one race over another, it results in a negative affect on one race over another regardless of intent, or it has historically been used to negatively affect one race over another regardless of present intent or eventual result.

The first two are justifiably used to disqualify certain policies; of course we shouldn’t enact things that are intended to or serve to foster racial discrimination. But the latter is used as a fallacious smear tactic almost exclusively against conservative and libertarian policies. If that’s how we’re going to debate, it’s long past time the historically racist origins of certain liberal policies got considered too.

Federalism gets a bad rap obviously because of slavery and Jim Crow laws. The mantle of states’ rights was used for a long time as a means to get away with any number of heinous injustices and atrocities. That is almost never the case today, yet one risks being labeled racist for suggesting it, whether the issue to which federalism is to be applied has anything to do with race or not.

Well, if the putative federalist in question is a Republican, that is. Democrats are free to cling to states’ rights when it is convenient without having to worry about similar ad hominem attacks. Even after President Obama’s hailed conversion on the issue of gay marriage, he maintains that states should be free to decide the issue themselves.

This is effectively the same position as most elected Republicans, yet he doesn’t get called names because of it. Even the President’s signature health insurance reform grants states tremendous discretion in how much of the law’s new bureaucracy to implement themselves. Has anyone called Obamacare racist?

Replacing ObamaCare: Republican Answer to Pre-Existing Conditions

This is the final post exploring the Republican Study Committee’s proposal for replacing ObamaCare.

The Republican Study Committee’s recently introduced comprehensive health care proposal titled the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013 (AHCRA), H.R. 3121, repeals ObamaCare and offers the best set of proposals to date toward establishing a Republican consumer-driven health care narrative.  Its core features include the Standard Deduction for Health Insurance, which would unchain the tax advantages for purchasing health insurance from employer-sponsored coverage, and its HSA enhancements to to unleash the power of the market in combating the skyrocketing costs of care and empower individuals to control their own medical savings and expenses.

AHCRA also includes a number of crucial market reforms that can answer some of the basic questions like “How do you address pre-existing condition exclusions without outright banning them like in ObamaCare?” or “If I can’t get coverage on an ObamaCare exchange, what would my options be?”  These proposals are important steps in showing that the federal government can act in unintrusive ways to improve the pre-ObamaCare health coverage landscape, and without the endless and heavy-handed stockpile of mandates that define ObamaCare’s failures.

Some of the highlights include:


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