Sunday, July 13, 2014

Increased Federalism Could Emerge as Key Campaign Issue

Ever noticed how counties that are home to state capitals always seem to vote Democrat?

There is a logical reason. As a rule, public sector workers always favor the party of expanded government. In today's world, federal employees especially are predisposed to vote Democrat.

Next question, "how does increased Federalism play into this tendency?" In other words, "what if" jobs currently handled at the federal level were reassigned to the states? Would it make a difference?

Old habits are difficult to break. This is certainly the case when studying voting patterns. For reasons beyond explanation, members of the bureaucracy tend to lean Democrat.

Most of these jobs are gained through qualification. But, there are others, especially the lower echelon ones that are often fruits of the traditional "spoils system." Republicans are seen as more on the side of the private sector. Most state and especially federal workers have traditionally found Democrats more amenable to pay increases and benefit enhancements. The main exception has been with Defense Department, Military and Law Enforcement employees, who historically have leaned Republican.

The question becomes, "how would individuals in "blue" counties such as Leon County, Florida and Dane County, Wisconsin react to a call for more federalism?" In other words, "eliminating jobs at the federal level, returning the money to the individual states in the way of block grants, so that the individual state might re-create these same positions at the state level?"

Sounds complicated, not to mention a bit messy! There is, however, a motive behind such action.

Last night, I was privy to an enlightening discussion between friends. The topic, "who" would make the best Republican candidate for President. On the table were several key issues, beginning with border control and ending with Obamacare. In the middle of the discussion, two other concerns surfaced: Education and global warming. The participants included an environmental engineer, a law enforcement official, a member of the "agency," a public school principal and myself. Needless to say, we were all Republicans.

From the outset, it was concluded that "if the Republicans were smart," the field would be immediately narrowed to two contenders: Jeb Bush and Rick Perry. The main distinction between these two men is their views on Federalism.

Neither Perry or Bush have made official their intentions for 2016. Smart money suggests that both will run. It is no secret that the Republican Establishment yearns for a Bush candidacy. Meanwhile, Perry continues to raise his profile with each passing day. The primary consideration is "which" Republican possibility is perceived to have the best chance of besting Hillary Clinton in the general election. Now surfacing is the question of "individual counties in swing states" that could decide the election. These "state capital" counties head the list.

Perry hasn't been specific on "which" departments would be the most impacted. It stands to reason that the E.P.A. would top the list. If such were the case, Federal jobs would be eliminated, the money returned to the states, where the individual state would recreate the position. The objective: "increased accountability through accessibility."

Jeb Bush has a strong environmental record. While in office as Florida Governor, he added almost a million acres to the Florida public land holdings. His attention to preservation of the Everglades drew national applause.

Perry, lest we forget, was Al Gore's 1988 Texas campaign chairman when the former V.P. ran for President. Their difference centered around Gore's insistence that "only Washington" could be trusted via the E.P.A. to regulate Environmental standards. Perry's 10th amendment orientation resulted in a permanent split with Gore, contributing to his party switch. His environmental record as Governor of Texas has been as good, if not actually better than Bush's Florida record.

We know that Jeb Bush ardently supports "Common Core." Perry not only opposes "Common Core," he wants to eliminate the Department of Education in it's entirety.

Ditto for the departments of Energy and Commerce. Bush has said nothing about either.

George H.W. Bush once headed the C.I.A.. It would stand to reason that the Agency, not to mention the Department of Defense would be comfortable with his son in the White House. But how would this impact things back home? We know that Perry has one of the strongest second amendment records in the country. Would this equate to sending money back to the individual states, in order to expand their state militias?

Healthcare? Both men seek to "repeal and replace" Obamacare? But, what specificially would this entail? The recently introduced Republican alternative? Crossing states lines? Loser pays Tort reform, which Texas has already implemented? Allowing the individual states to make the final determination?

In short, could the promise of increased Federalism trim the Democrat's advantage in capital counties? Chances are, no matter what someone promises, these voters belong to the Democrats. Still, some of the more intuitive state officials might see increased Federalism as a ticket for job creation at home!

Both Bush and Perry will tout private sector job creation as their primary objective. In fact, this will be Perry's strongest selling point. Yet, it never hurts to remind these voters in capital counties that, "more state jobs will result from decentralization."

Ironically, Jeb may be more "in sync" with Hillary than Perry regarding Federalism. This could ultimately be his downfall! For those who remember the Texas 2010 Gubernatorial campaign, Perry made it "the issue" when disposing of Kay Bailey Hutchinson. There might be an additional benefit.

It takes no Harvard graduate to see advantages from increased Federalism. For starters, there are always employment gains on the state level! Plus, advocating a Washington "down size" is increasing popular politics. Perry has proven to be one of the best at "seizing the moment!"

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