"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Tenth Amendment; United States Constitution
Today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling wasn't surprising. It was par for the D.C. course. However, it clarifies priorities closer to home.
Texas has GOT to elect legislators willing to stand up to the federal government.
The tenth amendment was a major reason we shifted our political focus from the Federal to the State level. Unfortunately, the last two legislatures ignored it. That must change.
We have to plan for the worst. Every decision in the coming months must be made under the assumption that either Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton will be the next President. Either one will continue business as usual.
The pressure coming from Washington is going to get worse. When that happens, the Texas Association of Business will fall in line. When that happens, as currently constituted, the legislature will cave.
The most important way to stand up to the federal government is to stop taking money with strings attached. In discussing the state budget, there's a dirty little unavoidable phrase: all funds. "All funds" includes transfer payments from the Feds.
The legislature just approved a budget where federal funds account for 32.4%. It's primarily Medicaid. Education is second. Transportation funding (which usually comes with mass transportation mandates) also takes up a chunk. That number must come down. Every one of those dollars gives Washington leverage.
Unfortunately, those dollars also beget Austin lobbyists who will fight to the death for the gravy train. At this point, who cares?!? Standing up to the Federal government will require telling Austin lobbyists to pound sand.
One specific note on Medicaid: In 2011, there was talk of having Texas opt-out entirely from the Federal Medicaid program. That option must come back into consideration. Obviously, there's no chance this happens if Straus returns.
While we're on the topic, it's worth noting that reducing Texas' dependence on Federal dollars was a key component of Konni Burton's campaign. Jonathan Stickland has also spoken favorably about this idea. Finally, Tarrant County House candidate Bo French addressed the ruling this afternoon:
Bottom Line: Today's ruling doesn't change anything. This case was always a long-shot. Once again, we've seen that D.C. won't get us out of this mess. Texans need to make standing up to the Federal government a key priority in assessing legislative candidates. Get to work.