Friday, April 6, 2012

Coercion (Part II)

It seems everything the federal government does is coercive against the states, companies, or individuals. Justice Scalia suggested that the States “got an offer they could not refuse” and they signed away their sovereignty when they signed onto to Medicaid in 1965. Scalia may be right, but even in 1965 the states had no choice but to sign up for the Medicaid program. Let’s think about it. Two amendments drastically reduced the rights or sovereignty of states well before 1965 – the 14th (adopted in 1868) and 16th amendments (adopted in 1913). The 14th amendment gave the federal government power to rule on states’ due process laws. The 16th amendment gave Congress the right to impose an income tax. Once Congress had the right to levy an income tax, they had complete power over the states. In 1965, the federal government did give the states an offer they could not refuse – take our help on Medicaid or get nothing. After all, it would have been economic and political suicide not to accept the money and instead double tax the citizens of states to help pay for health coverage for the disabled or needy.

The 16th amendment has enabled the federal government to coerce states for nearly a century. The government created departments not enumerated in the federal powers of the Constitution including: HHS, Department of Education (DOE), Department of Energy (Doe), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Transportation (DOT) – to name a few. The federal government collects tax money from the individuals of each state, and if the states want to recoup this money they have to adhere to federal government power grabs for universal control over healthcare, education, energy, agriculture, or transportation. For instance, the Department of Education created a new program called “The Race to the Top”. There was 4.3 billion dollars of state funding hidden in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the 862 billion dollar stimulus) for the Race to the Top. Even though The Race to the Top was not a law, the federal government coerced states to abide by their guidelines to get funding for this program. Some claim that this is not coercion because the states could just refuse the money – it is voluntary. But this is not going to happen, especially during a recession where states were already cash strapped and did not want to double tax its citizens. Besides, the government could have just as easily divided the money up evenly (population adjusted) amongst the states without any strings attached – they did not do this.

Let’s face facts; the introduction of the 16th amendment made the 10th amendment moot. States are now at the mercy of the federal government. And what’s worse, the 16th amendment made this country more bureaucratic, less efficient, and more susceptible to fraud and waste. For example, the tax payers of Ohio send their tax dollars to the federal treasury which in turn, funnels the money to federal departments which in turn, funnels the money back to the states treasury which in turn, funnels the money into state departments. Things would operate much more smoothly if the states taxed their people and spent the money as they saw fit, and cut out the middle man – the federal government. This simply makes sense and is more logical because states and localities better understand their issues and problems than the federal government. To assume that education or Medicaid has the same variables in Los Angeles California as it does in Alamosa Colorado is just wrong. Some may argue that by having the federal government controlling laws and regulations for HHS, DOE, Doe, USDA, and DOT makes legislation more consistent and equally enforced amongst states. This is not even remotely true and is exactly why legislation is thousands of pages long, because bills are laced with pork, earmarks, and waivers influenced by lobbying which does the contrary, it makes laws inconsistently enforced not only amongst states, but among corporations and individuals. Just this past week Congressional Democrats were talking about cutting tax incentives for only oil companies, but not tax incentives and funding for green companies – is this a fair law equally enforced amongst corporations?

How about federal standards the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts on industry – is this coercion? Yes, I believe so. The EPA is placing emission standards on energy manufacturers before the implementation of methods to conform to such rules are commercially available. This forces companies to cut back workers or increase energy consumption costs on individuals and companies. The same thing happens when the EPA places gas mileage standards on cars, automobile manufactures have to increase costs and cut corners on safety to meet such demands. This is coercion, the government is forcing companies to comply or receive fines. And what’s worse, these actions by the EPA make products more expensive and possibly even less safe.

All this being said, even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the states completely severing ObamaCare, it is improbable they will say the legislation is coercion.


  1. You’re right, Patrick. Coercion is the name of the game. The ironic thing, though, is that “the states” are the ones who gave this power to the federal gov’t. After all, the states vote on amendments, and it requires a three/fourths majority to pass.

  2. CW, you are right. Maybe Scalia should have said that the states gave up their sovereignty after voting to allow the income tax in 1913, and not when they voted to take part in Medicaid in 1965. Good point, but even the states probably would not have thought it would have gotten this bad, but they allowed the power grab to happen as you point out.