Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hypocrisy Task Force

I'm loving this article from the Times Record News about Congressman Blackburn's new 10th Amendment Task Force... (and holler to my alma mater!)...

Task force pleads Tenth

Lawmakers seek to keep mandates at bay

WASHINGTON — Violation of the Constitution. Mas­sive, hostile takeover. A dangerous situation.

Tenth Amendment enthu­siasts are sounding an alarm not as old as “The British are coming!” but one heard many times in America’s history.

These enthusiasts are worried about keeping ma­rauding hordes of federal mandates at bay. San An­gelo Congressman Mike Conaway and Abilene Con­gressman Randy Neuge­bauer are among 10 conser­vative House Republicans who recently formed the Tenth Amendment Task Force to do just that.

“We are pretty fierce de­fenders of the Tenth Amend­ment,” Conaway said.

In case you’ve forgotten high school government class, the Tenth Amend­ment basically says, what­ever powers the Constitu­tion doesn’t give to the fed­eral government or bar the states from having belong to the states or the people.

This idea — powers div­vied up between a central government and states — is also known as “federalism.” The task force’s stance sounds familiar from way back to a pair of experts on federalism and the law.

Politicians have raised those same concerns, when convenient, going back to debates about slavery in the 1800s and civil rights in the 1960s, said the experts from Washington-based George Washington University.

“It’s a rare politician, I find, who has a real com­mitment to federalism,” Jonathan R. Siegel, a GWU law professor, said.

It’s a great idea to con­sider how the federal gov­ernment’s actions affect states, Siegel said.

“I think what’s really happening is when people are against something the federal government wants to do, suddenly they’re all interested in states’ rights,” Siegel said. “When they support what the federal government wants to do, suddenly they don’t care so much.”

Republicans have sought a federal law requiring all states to recognize certain gun permits issued by other states, Siegel said. They also wanted a constitutional amendment defining marriage.

Democrats have histori­cally supported federal ac­tion, GWU constitutional law professor Peter J. Smith said in a separate telephone interview. But the left pro­tested the No Child Left Be­hind Act, saying it shackled states’ educational process.

It’s no secret Republi­cans hope to gain control of the House through mid­term elections. Back in the 1990s, when Republicans retook the House, they ran in part on a platform of giv­ing power back to the states, Smith said.

“Then they proceeded after taking office to propose nationalizing all tort law and regulating abortion from the federal level,” he said.

Conaway doesn’t appear to be a fan of nationalizing anything. The Midland Re­publican said the task force could make a difference by educating the public about the Tenth Amendment.

“The Tenth Amendment idea is very powerful in and of itself, and so the more people who know it and un­derstand it, then the easier it will be to help avoid viola­tions of it,” Conaway said.

The task force’s con­cerns should resonate with Tea Party support­ers who call for limited government and with oth­ers, including the Tenth Amendment Center’s pro­ponents.

The self-styled “nation­al think tank” and activ­ism promoter has a Texas contingent headed by state coordinator Brian Roberts, a 38-year-old Dallas-area entrepreneur who runs a software company.

Roberts is firm about states’ power, but he’s not a secessionist.

“If states individually are able to do what they need to do, there’s abso­lutely no reason for seces­sion at all,” Roberts said.

For Neugebauer, health care reform mandating Americans must buy in­surance or pay a penalty sounded an alarm.

“Many members, in­cluding myself, are very concerned about this mas­sive hostile takeover by the government of the liberties and freedoms of the Ameri­can people,” the Republi­can from Lubbock said.

McMurry University political science professor Paul Fabrizio said the goal of the task force is admi­rable. Clearly, the Abilene­-based professor said, the balance of federalism has been moving toward the federal government for a long time. “It’s what we call creep­ing federalism, and some would argue it’s now gallop­ing federalism with more and more power going to the federal government,” Fabrizio said.

The federal government’s power is growing because the American people and the states are willing to ac­cept federal money spent on their behalf, Fabrizio said.

“That’s the part of the equation that I think people aren’t talking about."

People don’t want the federal government in their lives, but they want the fed­eral government’s money, he said.

“I would imagine that most people in Abilene want Dyess Air Force Base here,” Fabrizio said. “They want the spending that comes from that.”

Social Security pay­ments, farm subsidies and federal stimulus funds are all from the federal govern­ment.

“The crushing reality that we all face is that the federal government has money, which it basically prints, and so to accomplish things, we need its help,” Fabrizio said.