How do Republican candidates for president stand on the issue of reserving power for the individual states—or clawing back power usurped by the federal government?
The Health Care Compact calls for the states—not the feds to manage government health care programs. So when Garrett Epps, a University of Maryland professor of constitutional law handicapped a recent Republican debate based on where the candidates stand on the limits of federal power, we listened.
Some of Epps' findings:
· Only two of the six candidates in the debate express strong support for the states: Texans Ron Paul and Rick Perry.
· Gingrich is no fan of the states and interprets the Tenth Amendment as allowing the federal government to reach around the states and empower citizens directly.
· Conservatives such as Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum do not favor state authority on abortion and gay marriage.
· Mitt Romney views the federal government as the rightful driver of national policy, including "helping the private sector grow" and enforcing labor laws.
Epps concludes his insightful survey with this sobering summary:
So, true-blue ("true red," I suppose) "states' righters," you face an unappetizing choice. The only two candidates who really understand your issue are supremely unlikely to win the nomination. Meanwhile, the two leading candidates against Obama clearly have no plan to give back any federal power, and one (Gingrich) seems to be itching to expand it.
The forum was hosted by Mike Huckabee on a special edition of his Fox News show. It featured questions from three Republican state attorneys general, Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, Pam Bondi of Florida and Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma.
This forum was like no other debate in that the candidates were not on the stage at the same time and were not able to talk with one another. Rather, they were grilled, individually, by the very intimidating attorneys general (with a small group session at the end).
The result was a lot more attention paid to constitutional issues and matters of law rather than jobs and the economy. For those concerned about where the Republican candidates stand on constitutional issues, the Huckabee Presidential Forum is recommended viewing.
Source: "Leading GOP Candidates Don't Want to Return Power to the States," The Atlantic, Dec. 4, 2011.
Image courtesy of MRCTV used under fair use: commentary.
Steve O'Keefe is a freelance writer, author, and book editor whose writing has appeared in numerous libertarian publications.