by Arlene Wohlgemuth, Mario Loyola, John Davidson
Texas Public Policy Foundation
January 23, 2013
It is unconstitutional for the federal government to command the states—the Supreme Court has been clear on that point. Yet the federal government can accomplish much the same “commandeering” of the states through the practice of “cooperative federalism:” the intermingling of finances and regulatory activities among the federal and state governments. These arrangements are supposed to be voluntary. But they force the state to choose between (a) obeying the federal government on matters of purely state prerogative, or (b) suffering a major financial or regulatory penalty. Both of these are painful choices for the states. But in both cases, the long-term costs of bending to the federal will are simply too great. The federal government should be forced to pay for, implement, and be accountable for its own policies. The states have challenges enough without being drawn deeper still into the dysfunction of the federal government.