Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism.
- Rosa Luxemburg, "Junius Pamphlet" 1916

Friday, June 3, 2011

What's so civil about federal funding, anyway?

I must apologize for my lack of postings! The only excuse I can offer is that I continue to labor unceasingly on a climate change research project that will affect US national policy about as much as the shit I took this morning. Also, I was elected Treasurer of my graduate student union last month, and it's fiscal year changeover time! *magic hands* So, I'm busy.

But! Before I dissappear into the Michigan Outback for a month, I offer an interesting tidbit: in a post by Kir'Shara a couple of months ago, I commented that I thought we were entering a period when Federal power over the states starts to crack, even as the Federal Executive becomes more and more powerful. To quote myself (in public, no less!):

"I DO think that we may see a functional, if not nominal, collapse of the federal government. Basically, the Feds will stop being a real power as soon as state governments stop playing ball. In the past, the federal government has had two ways of forcing state governments to play nice:

1.) Blast the ever-loving fuck out of them until they give up. See 1861-1865.

2.) Threaten to withhold federal funding for everything from schools to roads; see virtually every clash between state and federal law since Appamatox."

I emphasize part two here, because I read today that the Republican government of Indiana told the Feds to piss up a rope vis a vis their unilateral defunding of Planned Parenthood. In brief, the deliberate removal of Medicaid funding from a family planning clinic violates Federal anti-discrimination statutes, and the Feds fell back on their traditional threat of denying the state Federal funds, in this case $4 Billion in Medicaid. Not to be outdone, Louisiana has upped the ante with a bill that bans abortion outright clearing committee. They are acknowledging that the bill violates Federal law, and they don't give a shit.

These are examples of what I believe to be some of the first cracks in Federal authority. In this particular case, the funding- withdrawal threat isn't working because, I suspect, the Republicans in charge of these states fucking hate Medicare and Medicaid anyway and the loss of Federal matching funds will provide the perfect excuse for them to cut the programs from state budgets entirely. It remains to be seen what these states will do when their shiny new bullshit laws are blasted by the Supreme Court; continuing to enforce an unconstitutional law is a little more serious than flouted Federal funding regulations, and the Republicans in charge of the Bible Belt might not have the gumption for that, yet. The provinces are restless, though.

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