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The Era of Big Government is Back via Republicans


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http://online.wsj.com/public/article/0,,SB...=public_home_us

 

Big Government's Changing Face

 

Republicans' Moves to Expand

Federal Role Cheer More Than

Just Social Conservatives

By JOHN D. MCKINNON

Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

April 4, 2005; Page A4

 

WASHINGTON -- Republicans in the capital are reviving Big Government -- and social conservatives aren't the only ones happy about it.

 

Last month, President Bush and his party's leaders in Congress intervened in the case of Terri Schiavo, leading to federal-court review of a dispute that had been adjudicated in state courts. Though that seemed at odds with the party's philosophy of a less-intrusive government, the religious right championed the move, as it backs Mr. Bush's attempt to enact a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

 

Republicans are moving to expand Washington's role on other fronts. In banking, insurance and telecommunications, the Bush administration and Congress are pushing federal regulation instead of state oversight -- to the applause of business constituents who now consider that more efficient and less onerous than in the days of Democratic rule.

 

For Democrats in Washington, such moves represent hypocrisy from a party that once touted the principles of federalism in the Constitution's 10th amendment, which reserves for the states and the people those powers not explicitly granted to the federal government.

 

Whatever the result, the trend is a consequence of the consolidation of Republican control of the capital. In the decades after President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the New Deal and an era of Democratic dominance, Republicans were steady critics of their adversaries' use of federal power on economic and social issues alike. Yet their tune has changed now that Republicans hold the White House and both chambers of Congress -- and aim to keep them.

 

On regulation, some Republicans are working to please many business constituents who are important ideological and financial allies. The inaugural edition of the National Conference of State Legislatures' "Pre-emption Monitor" counts the ways, citing business-regulation issues such as congressional overhaul of class actions and pending legislation on medical malpractice and insurance regulation.

 

Perhaps the most sweeping change has occurred in banking regulation. In recent years, banks have pushed through changes in federal regulations that have pre-empted many state consumer safeguards, at least as applied to federally chartered banks, according to state regulators.

 

"It turns federalism upside down," says John Ryan, executive vice president of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. A result has been a stampede by banks to switch to federal charters from state ones, he adds. Supporters note that the changes have been accompanied by new federal consumer standards. They disagree that the changes undermine the dual banking system, where institutions can choose to be state or federally chartered.

 

A broader change could occur in insurance regulation, if big national insurers succeed in their effort to shift more oversight to the federal government from the states. That effort is likely to get a boost from recent insurance-industry scandals, including accounting problems at American International Group Inc.

 

To be sure, economic trends have helped change attitudes, as local markets have been consolidated into regional and national ones. "If I'm a business and I operate nationwide or in a large region, and I know we're going to be regulated, I'd much prefer a single regulator with a single set of standards and rules ... rather than having to worry about 50 regional regimes," says Charles Gray, executive director of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. The association has watched as the federal government has eroded state authority in a number of areas of utility regulation, recently including Internet telephone service.

 

But the changing philosophy of those holding power in Washington also has contributed to businesses' different tone. During the 1960s and 1970s, when an activist federal government was asserting control, businesses preferred state regulation. Businesses "used to talk about state rights when they thought it served their economic interest," says Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. "Now they're talking about pre-emption when they think it serves their interest." Mr. Peevey's agency is suing its federal counterpart, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, after FERC asserted that it -- and not Mr. Peevey's agency -- has the sole power to approve a new liquefied-natural-gas facility in Long Beach harbor. The case is pending in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

 

In fact, federalism has been a doctrine of convenience for both sides. Democrats championed federal power to advance the civil-rights movement and, as recently as the early 1990s, to curb the use of firearms with the Clinton-era Brady Bill and assault-weapons ban. After his first two years in office helped spark the 1994 "Republican Revolution" that ended Democratic control of Congress, Mr. Clinton sought to adapt to the shift by declaring "The era of Big Government is over."

 

Now Democrats invoke the rights of states to recognize gay marriages if they wish. Democrats have become more aggressive in state-level regulation in response to the different tone in Washington. "From trial lawyers to [New York Attorney General] Eliot Spitzer ... there's never been anything like it in American history," says Michael Greve, director of the Federalism Project at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

 

The role of state regulation was signaled by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis seven decades ago. In his dissent to a majority opinion throwing out state regulation of the ice business in Oklahoma, Justice Brandeis called it "one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory, and try novel social and economic experiments."

 

Today, some prominent Republicans say business should get a choice of federal or state regulation. "We're for federalism, not states' rights," says Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

 

"As a general principle, these are issues best left to the states," adds Richard Lessner, executive director of the American Conservative Union. "But when there are questions about whether a state is truly respecting the rights of an individual or class of people, there's a history of the federal government intervening."

 

 

At least democrats encroached on states to protect civil rights and for safety nets. But to protect big bankers and insurers via the federal government reeks of special interest and a business run federal government.

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Safety nets to you are somehting that is honorable to me it is far worse than supporting business interests that will boost the economy. You see its about how you see it. In the end federalism is bad, I will agree that for civil rights it may have been necessary, but defintely not for safety nets or gun control. All of these issues should be left to the states. Period. Both parties have been hypocritical and what the dems did is not better or no worse than what the republicans are doing. Remove the bias and analysze clearly.

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Safety nets to you are somehting that is honorable to me it is far worse than supporting business interests that will boost the economy. You see its about how you see it. In the end federalism is bad, I will agree that for civil rights it may have been necessary, but defintely not for safety nets or gun control. All of these issues should be left to the states. Period. Both parties have been hypocritical and what the dems did is not better or no worse than what the republicans are doing. Remove the bias and analysze clearly.

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Was it not Clinton who declared the era of big government being over? And for democrats, their priority has never been one of state soverignty but they have always respected it when they think the federal government has gone too far. Democrats have always engaged in a balancing test. On the other hand, Republicans have always had a per se distaste for big government. I bet if you took a poll of democrats or left leaners, few would proclaim that they are democrats because they dont like big government. That doesnt mean they like big government either. But I bet if you took a poll of republicans or right leaners, a lot would say they are Republicans because they dont like big government. Yet few actually are upset by this activity. Just like the faux libertarians(and Im not accusing anyone of that), Im starting to believe a lot of republicans are faux federalists.

 

And there is a keen difference between what the Republicans are doing with business and what the democrats did with safety nets. The Democrats by implementing safety nets shared in activity with the state, never really undermining state's policing of its own citizens. In such they may have expanded the role of the federal government but not at the expense of state government(certainly not directly even if you can provide a roundabout indirect). Republicans on the other hand are directly encroaching on states policing of their citizens. I dont think anyone would be complaining if Republicans were providing a safety net for business or providing business assistance. In fact government historically has and nobody got mad. Here the Republcans are undermining states for the benefit of special interests.

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I think that the Terri Schiavo case proved that the current Republican congress sees no problem with interfering in state business.

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If the congress feels a state is in error, it is explicitly within congress' power to intervene.

 

Feel free to mount a campaign to repeal the 14th amendment if you are unhappy with this situation.

 

http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Amend.html

Article XIV.

 

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

 

...

 

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

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I think that the Terri Schiavo case proved that the current Republican congress sees no problem with interfering in state business.

728353[/snapback]

If the congress feels a state is in error, it is explicitly within congress' power to intervene.

 

Feel free to mount a campaign to repeal the 14th amendment if you are unhappy with this situation.

 

http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Amend.html

Article XIV.

 

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

 

...

 

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

 

728453[/snapback]

 

 

Please point out where anyone said their actions were unconstitutional.

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F_m the problem is that the republican party is being overrun by the federalist neocon segment. Remember that the neocons stemmed from a socially conservative wing of the democratic party, so federalism was a basis on their beliefs, whether socially or economically. What has happene dnow is that there are half breed politicians who feel that they should apply notions of welfare and safety nets to businesses rather than individuals. That is not a true fiscal economic policy, it is a leftist way of trying to achieve capitalism. This contradiciton however hurts capitalistic progress and takes away the rights of individuals. Its a misguided blend of a person who is pro-capitalist and federalist. A neocon attempting fiscal conservatism. This is very dangerous to the core of conservatism.

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The neocon and religious contingents of the GOP have finally figured out a way to exert their influence from the top down. Instead of the grass-roots efforts and heavy influence in local/state and regional politics, they've moved on to federal meddling thanks to the confluence of a favorable electoral attitude and their man in office.

 

The Schiavo debacle just further proved the amazing amount of influence they now have.

 

As someone whose been a Republican all his life, I'm almost to the point of jumping ship. GOP Congressman Shays summed it up best last week after his dissent during the Schiavo debate....."This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy."

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FF I've always liked Christopher Shays. There are plenty of Republicans out there I think are decent. Shays, Hagel, Chafee, Graham...

 

"Smaller government" conservatives always had my ear. But what comes out of that party lately just makes me shake my head. When Dennis Hastert can back an embarrasment like Tom DeLay I just have to wonder what's going on, the pathetic display he put on the past few weeks should make every Republican get down on all fours and puke his guts out. And Bill Frist isn't much better.

 

Look I'm not going to pretend I'm a registered Republican, but I usually find myself taking from both sides when I think about what's best for the country. Lately that's not the case.

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