Democrats Use COVID Relief Bill to Harm Conservative States

Democrats Use COVID Relief Bill to Harm Conservative States

( – As time marches on after President Biden signed the most recent partisan COVID-19 relief package on March 11, America is now learning how the Democrats plan to manipulate the states to their political advantage.

On March 16, Republican attorneys general from 21 states wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen indicating Democrats are trying to coerce them should they choose to accept any money provided in the legislation. They say a provision in the law prohibits states from lowering taxes, constituting “the greatest attempted invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic.”

When the framers ratified the Constitution in 1787, they were concerned about the federal government’s potential to exert too much control over the states. Each state is an independent, sovereign government, independent of the federal government. In fact, it’s the states who made the federal government. Each state created a constitution, and the US Constitution grants extraordinary powers to states which it does not grant to the federal government.

Did Democrats Violate the Constitution for Political Purposes?

The US Constitution limits the powers of the federal government. However, it doesn’t limit states’ powers. The 10th Amendment declares:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The letter to Yellen emphasizes that the provision in the COVID-19 relief package intrudes upon the states’ rights to handle their tax dollars as they wish. By law, the federal government cannot and should not dictate how states conduct their business.

So, what’s really at issue here?

It’s about politics and saving face. Remember, not a single GOP congressman or senator voted for the bill.

Supreme Court Rulings Validate GOP Concerns

In 1987, the US Supreme Court ruled in South Dakota v. Dole that a spending clause in federal legislation must be intended for the “general welfare.” Two aspects of the ruling could also apply in this case. In the first, the high court ruled that Congress couldn’t put restrictions on federal money to the states if it violates Constitutional provisions. In particular, with regards to the 10th Amendment, it said the federal government couldn’t “commandeer” a state or local government by requiring it to carry out a federal program.

Just as important, another part of the ruling said the legislation couldn’t cross the line from “enticement to impermissible coercion.”

The Red States Running Circles Around Blue States

In recent weeks, some GOP-led states completely ended COVID-19 restrictions, including the mask mandate. Last October, Florida ended their lockdowns completely, and the state’s economy is roaring. Other Republican states are following and enjoying economic success. In contrast, numerous blue states, including California and New York, are still locked down, and small businesses struggle to survive.

Republicans could see the provision in the COVID-19 bill as retribution or a penalty for making Democrats look bad. For months, Democrats did all they could to demean the GOP states that are open for business, and it didn’t work.

The letter from the states specifically wants to know how Yellen intends to interpret the law. Can the states not cut taxes for any reason? What about if the tax cuts happened before passing the law? Could the law be interpreted to deny the states from cutting any taxes at all?

If Yellen doesn’t back down, expect another lawsuit in federal court by state attorneys general in the coming weeks.

Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst

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