Monday, March 25, 2013

Obama & D.C. vs The States

The power struggle between the States and the Federal Government has existed since George Washington's first cabinet.  While the U.S. Constitution clearly delineates a pretty impressive array of states rights,  over the last two centuries the Federal Government has continued to encroach on those states rights.  Most of the power assumed by the Feds has come via the power of the purse.

By the middle of George Washington's first term his two key cabinet officers were at war with each other.  Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, a great admirer of Britain's governmental system, believed in a strong central government.  Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson greatly feared that the Federal government would place an onerous burden on both the states and their citizens and would garner powers not granted it in the Constitution.  Jefferson believed that the most efficient government was the one closest to the people, whether it be city or state, but certainly not some monarchical leader in Washington far away.

Sadly, for those who believe in the supremacy of states rights, Alexander Hamilton had the ear of Washington, as evidenced by the flowering of the different cabinets.  There were only four cabinet posts in the beginning.  Secretary of War Frank Knox, Attorney General Edmond Randolph, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of The Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

By 1792 Alexander Hamilton pretty well commanded all of the Cabinet power.  Hamilton had built an "empire" of staff that included over 500 pioneering Washington bureaucrats.  By contrast Jefferson, Knox and Randolph had less than six each on their staffs.

Hamilton ran everything from banking, collecting custom taxes, to overseeing the establishment of the Coast guard, to building light houses on the Eastern Shore.  In commanding so much centralized power, Hamilton set precedents that are troubling the states even today.

And yes, Hamilton did face pushback!  As a matter of fact, the Jefferson-Hamilton feud would soon lead to the formation of the first two political parties.  Jefferson's Democratic Republicans were fighting the overreaching power of the federal government long before our state governors and today's Republican party took up the fight.

If we go back to that first decade of the Republic it is quite easy to see the exact moment when the states "folded" to Washington's power grab.  Quite frankly, it was in the form of a "bribe" from Hamilton.  Hamilton proposed that all of the state colonial debt be assumed by the federal government. The states, failing to see the long term implications of this move, were all too willing to surrender their debt to the feds.  So they did so.

The Hamilton debt maneuver proved to be the "nose under the tent" moment when the feds began to intervene in states rights and states business.  As a result the federal government has grown so monstrously that nearly every facet of our lives are now influenced by the "deciders" in Washington.

And the Obama administration has taken this power grab to a whole new level.  It wasn't enough that Washington pretty well calls all the shots on how our economies are to perform, Washington now assumes the role of "supreme dictator" and telling us who can marry, what number of illegal aliens we must host, what morals we will follow, how our religions shall be organized and mandates what social organizations will be championed or condemned.

When states opt to exercise their constitutional rights Obama trots out a team of lawyers from the Attorney General's office and sues the states into submission.

But, perhaps most onerous has been the resurrection of Washington's use of the power of the purse to cajole and tempt the individual states to accept massive debt burdens in the name of social progress.
Does anyone remember when Lyndon Johnson's War On Poverty programs began?  Congress dangled huge sums of money in front of state noses if only they  would implement Johnson's programs.  But that money came with caveats; follow the dictates of the feds, regardless of whether they worked locally or not.  As a result trillions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse exist in all of these national programs, run and dictated by Washington.

Then, as the years go by, the states are told they must fund the brunt of the costs for these programs, which leaves the states burdened with huge costly programs that they simply cannot fund.  One only need look at Welfare, Medicaid and Education programs to know this is true.

Now Obamacare is being implemented using the same tactics.  The feds are at least truthful this time:  Washington has promised to pay 90% of the costs of Obamacare for the first three years, then the states must begin paying the enormous costs.  The state of Arizona is kind of a test tube for this problem.  Governor Jan Brewer, like Governor Scott in Florida, has opted to take the Obamacare money and worry about the long term state costs later.  However the Arizona statehouse, under Republican control, is crying foul.   They have all looked at the $5 billion a year costs of Obamacare when the federal "pump priming" money has run out and can't see how they can fund such a massive program on only $10 billion dollars in annual state revenue.

Moral of the story?  Don't let Washington be your "drug pusher".  They get you hooked by giving you free samples, then start demanding you pay up...and pay up big....or they start breaking legs!

Forget "blaming it on Bush"....blame this mess on Alexander Hamilton 220 years ago.!

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