The Federal Government has a long history of imposing mandates on states that overstep the powers granted by the constitution. The founding fathers thought it best to limit the powers of the federal government and allow the states to wield the greater power. The tenth amendment to the constitution states this intent in no uncertain terms. The Supreme Court has made a few rulings on the matter (see New York v. United States (1992), and Printz v. United States), so the Federal Government has been forced use other methods to impose law and policy on states.
In order to pass constitutional muster, the Federal Government has often exploited a loophole in the 10th amendment to usurp the powers of the states and impose the will of the Feds on these states. The Federal Government uses the carrot and stick approach.
Here is how it works:
The Federal Government either withholds Federal Funds or offers money. Both require states to comply with the will of the Federal Government. In order to force states to lower speed limits to 55 MPH in the 1970’s, Federal highway funds were withheld to states that failed to enact new speed limits. The same tactic was used to force states to lower the blood alcohol content limit to .08% nationwide.
President Obama uses a variation on this theme. He dangles federal dollars disguised as “stimulus” money with mandates that require changes in state laws. Many states have taken him up on this “generous” offer to take borrowed money from the Federal Government in exchange for allowing Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reed and Obama to replace our elected state officials and write Virginia law.
Any self respecting legislator would reject this type of federal meddling with total disgust and outrage. It is clearly a power grab by the current administration and has no place in Virginia politics.
Take, for example, the $125 million “stimulus” money offered to Virginia to increase unemployment benefits. Democrat James Towey who is challenging incumbent Republican Bill Janis for the 56th House of Delegates seat issued a press release titled “Janis Opposes Federal Funding to Stimulate Virginia’s Economy”. The memo mentions that unemployment benefits would, for the first time, be extended to part time employees, as well as increase weekly benefits for unemployed workers.
The fact is, the $125 million “stimulus” package would provide only a few dollars per week in extra cash to unemployed and allow unemployed part time workers to collect unemployment benefits even while attending school. It would also extend benefits an additional 6 months. This a massive expansion of Virginia unemployment benefits written by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reed and President Obama. So, it turns out the $125 million will run out in a very short time leaving business owners on the hook to continue to fund the unemployment benefits mandated by accepting the federal money. This will force businesses to pay more taxes to the state at a time most businesses are struggling to survive. It is inevitable that more jobs will be lost in the long run as a result of accepting this money.
Short short sightedness on the part of Democrats like Towey, who are pushing for the state to accept the money will make a bad situation worse. Towey is an intelligent man. It is difficult to comprehend why he does not understand that the strings attached to this money are bad for Virginia, bad for jobs, and a roadblock to economic recovery. The only thing this money will do is increase federal control over Virginia. This lack of vision should worry voters about Towey.
Representative Janis has the ability to see through the “financial candy” from Washington and look at the big picture. A few more dollars in an unemployment check today is hardly worth the loss of sovereignty and the loss of jobs sure to come. Janis has been making the right decisions for the Commonwealth since 2001 and has made sure Obama “the loan shark” does not prey on Virginia’s jobs. Janis did not vote against the money, just the strings.
Perhaps Towey would be better served by working with members of his own party to put a halt to the power grab from Washington and the onerous strings attached to accepting money from the Feds. Reject the exploitation of the 10th amendment loophole and remove the strings and there is no doubt that the $125 million would receive a unanimous welcome.