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Federalism, the Tenth Amendment and CHIP

By Scott Tibbs, January 26, 2018

The first thing a conservative should ask about any piece of legislation going through Congress is this: Does the Constitution explicitly grant the federal government the authority to do this? Mitch McConnell announced on Twitter legislation funding the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be funded, and I asked that question.

So, do I hate children? No. That is silly. The question is whether the federal government has the authority to do this. After all, the Tenth Amendment reserves powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government to the states. While that amendment truthfully is not worth the paper it is written on these days, should we not at least pretend that we respect the Constitution and the rule of law enough that we actually take it seriously?

This is not to say such a program should not exist at all, but if it does it should be funded and managed entirely by state or local government, not by Washington, D.C. If federal entitlement programs were scaled back, then the states would have more leeway to raise taxes and fund these programs themselves. Plus, fifty separate programs allows more room for innovation and a program managed closer to the people is more accountable than something done by the leviathan federal government.

I was amused that the Declaration of Independence was mentioned in a reply to me, given that the founding fathers also wrote a Constitution that included the Tenth Amendment, and before that authored the Articles of Confederation with an even more limited federal government. The founders would be horrified to see the size and power of a federal government that has expanded more than it could have in their wildest imaginations.

Finally, the "hate" remark exemplifies everything that is wrong with modern political discourse. Instead of debating public policy on its merits, we have to instead attack someone's personal character if they have a different opinion on policy than we do. Yes, I understand I am responding to something on Twitter, where a 280 character limit makes an in-depth analysis of policy all but impossible. But even within those limits, we can all do a whole lot better than we have done.