Federalism Disad



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John Dinan and Shama Gamkhar May 14th, 2009 (Dinan is a professor of political science at Wake Forest, Gamkhar is a professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin)The State of American Federalism 2008–2009: The Presidential Election, the Economic Downturn, and the Consequences for Federalism” Published in Publius: The Journal of Federalism” page online: http://publius.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/pjp012 Accessed July 9, 2009.


In public addresses since the 2008 election Obama has in several ways signaled a greater attentiveness to federalism principles than was evident during the Bush administration. As president-elect in December 2008 he addressed members of the National Governors Association (NGA) in Philadelphia in the organization's centennial year. Citing Justice Louis Brandeis's oft-quoted dissent in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, 285 U.S. 262 (1932), Obama celebrated the ability of "a single courageous state" to "serve as a laboratory experimenting with innovative solutions to our economic problems." He went to say: "And that's the spirit of courage and ingenuity and stick-to-it-ness that so many of you embody. That's the spirit that I want to reclaim for the country as a whole. One where states are testing ideas, where Washington is investing in what works, and where you and I are working together in partnership on behalf of the great citizens of this nation" (Washington Post 2008). Then, Obama chose to host the governors at the first state dinner of his presidency in February 2009, and in his toast he noted that "You’re where the rubber hits the road," and promised that his "goal and aim is to make sure that we are making life easier, and not harder, for you during the time that we’re here in Washington" (quoted in Silva 2009)

Federalism high now – Obama is returning power to the states

John Dinan and Shama Gamkhar May 14th, 2009 (Dinan is a professor of political science at Wake Forest, Gamkhar is a professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin)The State of American Federalism 2008–2009: The Presidential Election, the Economic Downturn, and the Consequences for Federalism” Published in Publius: The Journal of Federalism” page online: http://publius.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/pjp012 Accessed July 9, 2009.

In the early months of his presidency, Obama took a number of opportunities to revisit Bush administration positions regarding expansion of federal authority, preemption of state policy experimentation, and fiscal support for states, and the outlines of Obama's positions are starting to emerge. First, Obama has permitted greater state policy experimentation in several areas, including auto emissions standards and children's health programs. Second, Obama has been much more responsive to state fiscal interests, as evidenced most clearly by his support for a massive stimulus package containing significant state aid. Third, and as discussed in the next part of this essay, Obama has put federal power and resources in the service of a different set of policy goals, particularly regarding energy conservation and environmental protection. Obama reversed Bush administration policy in such a way as to expand state discretion in several areas. In January 2009, he directed the EPA to begin the process of reversing a December 2007 denial of a Clean Air Act waiver to California (Schwartz 2009), and in February 2009, he signed a CHIP (formerly SCHIP) reauthorization measure that Bush vetoed twice in an earlier form in 2007. The Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) went even further than the earlier vetoed bills in granting discretion to states to insure legal immigrants immediately rather than waiting five years. Moreover, upon signing the law, Obama directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to withdraw an August 2007 Bush administration directive preventing states from using federal CHIP funds to cover children in families making above 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The Obama memo restored states’ ability to cover children above this income level, although federal matching funds will be reduced for states choosing for the first time to cover children in families above 300 percent of FPL (Center for Children and Families 2009). In another departure from Bush administration policy, in March 2009 Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Drug Enforcement Administration would discontinue raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in the thirteen states that have legalized medical marijuana, as long as distributors operate in accord with these state laws (Johnston and Lewis 2009).

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