The federal government has very limited powers when it comes to forcing states to implement policy. In the past, it has used the "carrot and stick" method, providing or withdrawing funding for one program or another to coerce states to pass laws which the federal government favors. The 55MPH speed limit is a good example. States had to pass the speed limit law to get special highway funding.
The recent discussion over whether states should implement the health care exchanges which are necessary for Obamacare to be fully realized, has suggested a question.
What can the states do, individually and in cooperation, to thwart the efforts of the federal government to meddle in areas which it has been given no authority?
A chapter from our past may give us the answer.
In the later days of alcohol prohibition, the states began to pass legislation decriminalizing alcohol. This allowed the state to refuse to provide intelligence and material resources to federal law enforcement agencies which were enforcing the federal law. State governments have no obligation to enforce federal laws, they have different jurisdictions. The federal government, eventually, realized that the financial burden of enforcing the law was more trouble than any good the law may have done and they stopped enforcing prohibition. This paved the way to repealing prohibition.
Several states have taken similar action, recently, regarding marijuana prohibition. States could also take action through other exclusive state powers.
Below is a summary.
(from Federalism: National vs. State Government / http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/rightsandfreedoms/a/federalism.htm /)
Under the U.S. Constitution, both the national and state governments are granted certain exclusive powers and share other powers.
Exclusive Powers of the National Government
Under the Constitution, powers reserved to the national government include:
Print money (bills and coins)
Establish an army and navy
Enter into treaties with foreign governments
Regulate commerce between states and international trade
Establish post offices and issue postage
Make laws necessary to enforce the Constitution
Exclusive Powers of State Governments
Powers reserved to state governments include:
Establish local governments
Issue licenses (driver, hunting, marriage, etc.)
Regulate intrastate (within the state) commerce
Ratify amendments to the U.S. Constitution
Provide for public health and safety
Exercise powers neither delegated to the national government or prohibited from the states by the U.S.
Constitution (For example, setting legal drinking and smoking ages.)
Powers Shared by National and State Government
Shared, or "concurrent" powers include:
Setting up courts
Creating and collecting taxes
Making and enforcing laws
Chartering banks and corporations
Spending money for the betterment of the general welfare
Taking (condemning) private property with just compensation
A couple of things jump out.
- if the citizens of a state decide that they wish to prohibit a service, they could urge the state legislature to require an expensive license to perform it, or to charge for it.
- removing the government monopoly on AMA certification of doctors. (this is a state mandate, not a federal one)
- encourage citizens to take deductions to minimize the "tax withheld" and , instead, allow/encourage them to set up "tax accounts". These would work like a certificate of deposit, allowing the citizen to realize the interest on his own money, instead of giving the federal government an interest-free loan, every paycheck. (writing that check to the IRS will make citizens aware of just how much they pay for many of the federal government's so-called "services")
Spending money for the betterment of the general welfare:
-start setting their own work requirements for state welfare funds.
-reduce welfare payments to REAL "safety net" levels and prosecute fraud.
-set aside funds to relocate welfare recipients to another state of their choosing
If enough states implement such policies, and the citizens continue to send representatives who will not vote to thwart the states' efforts, we may be able to reduce the federal government's meddling in the lives of the individual citizen.
Comments, additions and observations are welcome.