State Sovereignty Resolution: Following the money

Here’s another snippet from the July OWH article about what was, at the time, just the possibility of a state sovereignty resolution:

None of the three Nebraska lawmakers is ready to advocate giving up most federal funds to avoid the accompanying mandates, although Christensen supported the governor’s decision to reject some unemployment stimulus money because of the strings attached.

Ah, yes.  Money.  Although largely unspoken, money – federal money, to be specific – is no doubt a concern for Nebraska lawmakers as they contemplate LR 292.  If you’ll recall, at the start of the current legislative session, State Senators were bemoaning the state’s weak financial situation, and the restrictions it would place on their spending (see previous NR post here; OWH article here).   Spending is what they do best.

A Utah representative was more honest about her reluctance to support a similar resolution in that state.  She was unwilling to “give away” federal funds which make up 23% of Utah’s state budget. (See Tenth Amendment Center article here.)

Even more to the point is the following exchange, courtesy of Glen Warchol, writing at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are very few state-level politicians willing to go “cold turkey” on federal dollars.  But would such an extreme response be necessary?

Given the current administration – hell, given the current entitlement mentality of the entire federal government – it’s easy to imagine the feds punishing any state that gets too uppity.  (Yes, uppity. Please note that use of the word in this post is in no way intended as a negative racial connotation.  It is used in the current context to suggest an unhealthy balance of power between states and the federal government.) 

Is retaliation by the federal government what some Nebraska State Senators fear?  To me, it seems like an oversimplification intended to scare people, politicians, and states into submission.  Much like the tactic of relating sovereignty to racism is intended to shame people into submission.  

State sovereignty supporters – this one anyway – acknowledge that there are legitimate federal taxes owed by states.  There are legitimate federal expenses for services that benefit the country as a whole:  infrastructure (e.g., interstate system) and national defense, for example.   We are certainly willing to  contribute our fair share for the common good.  A  “cold turkey” situation would only come about as a punitive action against a state.  A better alternative for states would be to pass legislation with more bite. 

One idea, which will take a great deal of courage on the part of the People and their state governments, is to establish what’s being called a “Federal Tax Escrow Account” or a “State Authority and Federal Tax Funds Act.”

Already introduced in Georgia (HB877), Oklahoma (HB2810), and Washington (HB2712), such laws would require that all federal taxes come first to the state’s Department of Revenue. A panel of legislators would assay the Constitutional appropriateness of the Federal Budget, and then forward to the federal government a percentage of the federal tax dollars that are delineated as legal and Constitutionally justified. The remainder of those dollars would be assigned to budgetary items that are currently funded through federal allocations and grants or returned to the people.  [from Resist DC]

A showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court would be inevitable, and the states would likely lose, given the historical overreach of the Court.  But if enough states find the courage to act…

I encourage folks to read about Joshua Glover, whose story is summarized here.  Not only is it an excellent example of the importance of states rights, but it refutes the deceitful attempts by some, such as State Sen. Bill Avery, to link state sovereignty movements of today exclusively, and negatively, with slavery and racism from our past.

But back to the present day.  The idea of going cold turkey on federal dollars made me curious about the extent of Nebraska’s addiction.  According to nebraskaspending.gov, 37.64% of Nebraska funding came from Federal sources for the  fiscal year ending 6/30/2009.   That’s $2,342,669,800, according to the website.  The figure has been rising steadily, and it should come as no surprise that the bulk of those dollars go toward DHHS (i.e., Medicaid) and education. 

According to the IRS, for the fiscal year 2008 (the most recent available), the Feds collected a total of $21,366,643,000 from Nebraska.  (That’s everything. Corporate, Estate, Excise…everything.)  Of that, $2,146,859,000 was refunded.

What I really wanted to find out is if Nebraska sends more to D.C. than it receives, and the numbers cited above suggest we do.  However, Tax Foundation data tell a different story.   For 2005 (the most recent year available), the Tax Foundation reports Nebraska received $1.10 in federal money for every $1.00 paid. (According to the IRS, for the FY 2005, they collected $16,121,649,000 from Nebraska, and returned $1,336,400,000. According to nebraskaspending.gov, Nebraska received some $2.7 million from the Feds in 2005.)  

Clearly, I’m missing something, but I’m not going to spend any more time drowning in numbers.   It appears we are a “beneficiary state”, but not yet on welfare.  There is still time for Nebraska to reduce its dependence on federal dollars without shocking citizens too much.

I know, I know.  I’m dreaming. 

At the state and local levels, we lack politicians with the courage and will to stand up for states rights.  There are  a few, such as Tony Fulton (who introduced LR 292) and Beau McCoy (who introduced LR 289CA, which addresses health care), but no where near the number needed to be effective.   And, to be brutally honest, I’m not sure we have enough citizens willing to give up whatever federal subsidy (or subsidies) they receive.   It is already too late for too many Nebraskans, who have willingly traded their liberty to benefit their short-term financial self-interest.  

Think of the uproar that occurs whenever anyone talks about cutting farm subsidies.  Like every other state, Nebraska loves its pork.  Lefty Nebraskans would wail about cuts to education and Medicaid.  Any discussion of financial independence from the federal government would be stopped dead in its tracks, which is exactly what Leftist Nebraskans want. 

Lost in the hysteria would be any thought of how much more efficiently the state could use dollars that weren’t laundered through the federal government first.   Or the idea that Nebraskans could keep more of their hard-earned money, and put it to good use here at home. 

As far as the poor go, leftist induced hysteria also prevents calmer voices from pointing out how, if Nebraskans are able to keep more of their own money, they can put that money to work, creating businesses and jobs.  More jobs means less unemployment, which lessens the need for Medicaid.  If the so-called “working poor” are able to keep more of their earnings, they will benefit as well.  As for the truly needy, private charity groups have existed throughout our nation’s history.  We do not need leftists, or the government, forcing us to take care of our own.   We help the truly needy because it is the right thing to do.  It doesn’t surprise me that our Leftists friends can’t comprehend that, but I do find it sad. 

Yeah, I know.  I’m dreaming. 

Back in July,

Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature Mike Flood of Norfolk said he wasn’t sure whether he would back a resolution, though he supports states’ rights.  [OWH article]

Speaker Flood, and the rest of our state representatives, apparently need some encouragement if LR 292 will even get out of committee.   Word is, most state senators are unwilling to take a stand until they determine which way the political wind is blowing.   That is unfortunate, because support for the U.S. Constitution should not be a political issue.  But in 2010, everything is political. 

To that end, Grassroots in Nebraska needs the help of all liberty-loving Nebraskans to make sure the political wind blows the State Legislature to the right, and LR 292 passes.  The hearing is scheduled for this Friday, February 19th, at 1:30.  Visit grassrootsne.com for info on how you can help.

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