We’re often asked how we’re a small-government, freedom-loving political party if we go by the Federalist moniker. These questions invariably come form those who have surface knowledge of the original Federalist Party which advocated for a stronger national government in the 18th century. We’ve discussed ad nauseam the fact that the original Federalists pushed against a group of politicians who wanted essentially no federal government and therefore no United States. That’s why the Federalists promoted the Constitution as the proper way to bring checks and balances between the states and national governments. This is what we want today. However, the simpler answer that normally doesn’t require much explanation is that we’re more aligned with “new Federalism” that Presidents Reagan and Nixon espoused in their times in office.
It’s for this reason that we need to bring up another advancement in Federalism that came from an unlikely source. President Clinton’s welfare reform of the mid 1990s was an experiment in removing measures of federal control over an economic drain and turning to the states to experiment with their own solutions. The results were tremendous and arguably the only truly positive contribution by Bill Clinton.
An article by Michael Hicks in The Star Press goes into further detail:
Over the past two decades, there has been serious discussion by policy experts about a ‘new federalism’ that would change how government programs were operated. In particular, there is interest in the state-level experimentation that made welfare reform do successful. The hallmark of this “new federalism” was the broad elimination of federal government control of programs. State block grants would replace the federal bureaucracy and vast array of programs.
For example, if the U.S. Department of Education were to close, and all its budget returned to states based on population, Indiana would receive close to $600 million or almost 10 percent of the states’ current contribution to K-12 education. This could be repeated across the Department of Energy, of Commerce, of Agriculture and others, increasing the state budget by roughly 20 percent. It would be much more if health care were included.
Preserving the federal role is helpful. Federal income taxes are very progressive, offsetting the flat or regressive state tax systems based on sales and property taxation. Also, we might wish to provide more money to poorer states through the funding formulary. These are political decisions that can be easily accommodated by “new federalism.”
This article highlights how Federalism can make a real impact on the way the nation operates. By returning powers to the states, many of our biggest problems can be systematically addressed and more easily resolved.
There’s one major flaw to the article. Hicks suggests that President Trump has a tremendous opportunity to make the changes necessary for new Federalism to take root and spread over the next couple of decades until the direction of the nation is proper. Saying this is like saying that President Obama had the same opportunity before the 2010 elections. Opportunity does not equate into action and outside of a handful of good moves towards reducing regulations and bureaucracy, the Trump administration has given no indication they’re willing to reduce DC’s power. In fact, they seem to be heading in the same direction as the past four Presidents to consolidate more power at the federal level.
The government is currently inverted. The top of the government pyramid should be the individual followed by the family, community, city, county, state, and finally the federal government. It’s imperative that we make Washington DC remember that they work for us, not the other way around. New Federalism is the key to turning this dream into a reality once again.
Image Source: Daily Signal