Archive for the ‘states rights’ category

Growing States, Shrinking the Federal Government

October 23, 2015

A repetitious GOP theme lands someplace around the words, “the Federal Government is too large”, and that theme is often mixed in with the amorphous phrase, “it’s time to bring Government back to the people”. The subject might be taxes or entitlements or economic growth. The consistent GOP conclusion is that a smaller Federal Government translates directly into a more dynamic, growing country. Hmmm.

Regrettably most of these pronouncements are linked to clear GOP goals of reducing entitlements, altering the tax code to favor the wealthy, and allowing various States to pursue policies at State level which discriminate on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation. These pronouncements are usually so shallow that rich debate never takes place.

Now, one GOP Presidential hopeful, John Kasich, has proposed a variation of that theme which might stimulate serious discussion.

Kasich has proposed that more authority for current Federal government programs be transferred back to States. He points out that he as Ohio Governor could (would) do a far better job compared to Washington in designing and operating a jobs training program. He points out that he (the State of Ohio) must know more about their unemployed than faceless bureaucrats in DC.

Oh, yes, and Kasich feels that it would be less expensive to farm out the work to States. Hmmm.

I think there is a lot to think about in Katich’s statement. A program designed nationally would almost certainly be either too general or too specific when applied at State level. So should voters jump on this proposal?

Maybe… if… The “if” is that who does the work is less important that “what” work is done and “who” qualities to receive the work.

Remember, all Americans are free to move from State to State whenever they please. Many Americans live in one State but work in another.  All Americans are free to travel across the entire country and visit each State as often as they wish. Federal income taxes are collected from everyone and subsequently distributed across all 50 States without concern for which citizens had paid what.

Hmmm. Sounds like the country is relatively borderless.

Kasich’s proposal speaks to efficiency.  To be a fair proposal too, delegated programs should treat every American similarly regardless in which State they reside. For example, Federal funding returned to States in Medicaid, Education, or Training should treat all “like” people in a manner that produces the similar outcomes among all States. Block grant proposals today are thinly veiled proposals to deny coverage to some and lower the overall expense.  Hmmm.

The Federal Government’s task would be to set national standards and collect enough money to fund resulting programs. States would then be tasked to design and run programs to implement. Lastly, the Federal Government would audit State run programs to ensure they (1) met goals, and (2) included a similar cohort as other States and as the Federal Government intended.

Although Kasich did not speak to this, I would assume States could top up Federal grants but could not spend less unless the national goals were achieved.

This is an important concept with the current popularity of “State’s Rights” and “block grants”. Both of these concepts must be prevented from creating conditions where some Americans get help and others do not.