The Congress and presidents have spent many years–since 1789, actually–ignoring the Constitution’s federal system and drawing power to the national government, and look where it’s gotten us: We are ruinously in debt and facing the greatest crisis in our history.
The federal system set out by the Constitution limits the powers of the national government and grants much power and authority to the states; however, the national government’s three branches–the legislative, judicial and executive–have been complicit in usurping the powers reserved to the states by using loopholes–most notably the interstate commerce clause–to claim powers not specifically granted by the Constitution. But that is a consideration for other posts.
The point is that, even though weakened almost to the point of non-existence, it is the federal system envisioned in the Constitution that can save us in the fiscal crisis we face. Glimmers of hope abound lately. Governors and state legislatures are beginning to propose solutions for their problems that do not involve the national government, and in some instances asserting their state powers in opposition to the national government.
In Arizona, the governor and state legislature crafted a solution to the problem of illegal immigration that threatens its fiscal and social well-being and threw down the gauntlet to the national government, which has failed to enforce its own laws.
Over 20 states have challenged a provision in the Affordable Health Care Law (Obamacare) that requires citizens to purchase health insurance, and some are vowing to ignore that clearly unconstitutional law regardless of whether the federal courts affirm its unconstitutionality.
States also are beginning to resist other onerous laws passed by Congress, including many of the unfunded mandates, and those such as the Real ID law.
But, due largely to programs of the national government that have hurt the states, many states essentially are bankrupt, and all are in financial trouble, mirroring the fiscal problems of the national government, which has run up $14 trillion in debt to fund unnecessary and unconstitutional programs and wars.
Governors and legislators in New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin are tackling the fiscal problems head-on, taking on union intransigence, something Congress and the president are loathe to do.
It is with great satisfaction that I read Peggy Noonan’s column in the Wall Street Journal today in which she writes about speeches by two governors–Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey–in which they lay out honestly and clearly the problems that their states–and by extension, the nation–face and what to do about them. Real honest leadership. How refreshing. As Ms. Noonan puts it,
It can be a great relief to turn away from Washington and look at the states, where the rubber meets the road. Real leadership is happening there—the kind that can inspire real followership.
Both Governors Daniels and Christie are saying that, in the face of fiscal crisis, those in both parties have to honestly acknowledge the problem, tell the truth to the people, and trade in partisanship politics for cooperative, consensus politics.
Through the leadership of governors and state legislatures, their states’ fiscal problems could be solved; and perhaps the American people, seeing that the states have taken the lead, may demand the same of its national government. Ironic, isn’t it, that a system the national government has been trying to obliterate for 200 years may be the only way to save it from fiscal collapse?