This so-called government shutdown has provided a lot of political theater and more than its fare-share of silliness. But state governors reaffirmed a very important fact in the midst of the lunacy.

The federal government depends on states to get things done.

The National Governors Association sent a panicked letter to congressional leadership on Monday, begging them to avoid a shutdown. In this email, the governors affirm something we’ve been saying for a long time – the feds need the states.

States are partners with the federal government in implementing most federal programs. A lack of certainty at the federal level from a shutdown therefore translates directly into uncertainty and instability at the state level. [Emphasis added]

Did you catch that?  Most federal programs.

That means the states have a great deal of power!

States can refuse to serve as cooperative partners and SHUT THINGS DOWN!

James Madison recognized this reality before the Constitution was even ratified. He asserted in Federalist 46 that state refusal to cooperate and legislative devices that might be added could create “impediments” even in a single state. And when a bunch of states refuse to play along, it creates “obstructions.”

Madison gave us the blueprint and the state governors unwittingly just admitted that it will work!

Let’s just look at one example. The NSA Data Center in Utah requires millions of gallons of water to cool its mega-spy computers each day. A political subdivision of Utah provides that water. Utah can turn it off. Nothing says the state of Utah has to cooperate with the feds in spying on you.

The fact that the feds depend on states to implement most federal programs means the states can control what the feds do. They can hamper or stop indefinite detention. They can hamper or stop NSA spying. They can hamper or stop acts violating the Second Amendment. And if they get creative, they can even hamper or stop Obamacare.

The states have power.

It’s time for them to use it.


Dear Majority Leader Reid, Senator McConnell, Speaker Boehner, and Representative Pelosi:

The nation’s governors call on Congress and the Administration to avoid a federal shutdown, resolve the budget impasse and put the federal budget on a sustainable and long-term fiscal path.

Over the past several years governors have made tough choices to balance our state budgets and do more with less. We worked to redesign state government while simultaneously improving the delivery of services and reducing spending. As a result of these efforts, state economies are growing and unemployment is falling.

Unfortunately, the possible consequences to state economies of a federal shutdown or not increasing the national debt limit are severe. States are partners with the federal government in implementing most federal programs. A lack of certainty at the federal level from a shutdown therefore translates directly into uncertainty and instability at the state level. That uncertainty can lead to the suspension of programs and services, increased borrowing costs or even layoffs – all actions that will weaken our economies and potentially stall the national recovery.

Congress and the Administration need to determine how best to solve federal fiscal issues. As you work to resolve your differences, governors recommend you adhere to the following principles:

  • Federal reforms should be designed to produce savings for both the federal government and states;
  • Deficit reduction should not be accomplished by shifting costs to states or imposing unfunded mandates;
  • States should be given increased flexibility to create efficiencies and achieve results; and
  • Congress should not impose maintenance of effort provisions on states as a condition of funding.

Sustainable economic growth requires certainty and predictability from all levels of government. Short-term budget solutions avoid the pitfalls of a shut down, but fail to provide the level of stability needed for long-term growth and prosperity. We look forward to working with you to avoid a shut down in the short-term while crafting long-term solutions to spur continued prosperity.

Mike Maharrey

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