Tenth Amendment

Rich Galen
By Rich Galen | October 28, 2009 | 5:04 AM EDT

Amendment X: 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. -- Constitution of the United States.
New York Times: "The Senate health care legislation will include a government-run insurance plan, but states would be allowed to "opt out" of it, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, announced Monday afternoon." --David M. Herszenhorn and Robert Pear
If the American press corps were as concerned about the Tenth Amendment as it has been protecting the First and trying to get rid of the Second, this would be a far different country.
The Constitution limits the powers of the Federal government as it pertains to the States, but the Federal government has its ways.
For instance when the Federal government decided that the national speed limit should be 55 miles per hour they couldn't require that states adopt a Federal speed limit, but what the Feds could do was to pass a law saying that any state which refused to adopt a 55 MPH cap would be ineligible for Federal highway funds.
In civilian life this is known as "coercion" and will buy you some time in the slammer. In government this is known as sophisticated legislating and will buy you a sub-committee chairmanship.
We brushed up against this Harry Reid scam the other day - the business about allowing states to opt-out of a public health care plan. That allows Senators who have to run for re-election next year to say "Well, I voted for the bill, but only after we made a provision for the people here in North Iguana to decline to participate."
This is not Harry Reid suddenly getting religion over the 10th Amendment. This is Harry Reid passing the trillion bucks.
If this passes, the poor schlubs in the various State legislatures will be required to go through this same legislative steel cage match - forty nine times.
The 10th Amendment has never been construed as an absolute limit to Federal powers. Nevertheless, according to
"For approximately a century, from the death of John Marshall until 1937, the Tenth Amendment was frequently invoked to curtail powers expressly granted to Congress."
What was going on in 1937? Franklin Roosevelt had just won a landslide re-election and the Supreme Court was threatening to declare unconstitutional the National Labor Relations Act and Social Security.
Roosevelt came up with a plan to "pack the Court" by raising the number of Justices from nine to 15.
However, in the end, according to, "The majority opinion acknowledged that the national economy had grown to such a degree that federal regulation and control was now warranted."
Too big to fail?
Back to Harry Reid.
Olympia Snowe has a different view of how this should work. Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery, wrote in their Washington Post article:
Under Snowe's approach, a public plan would be available only in states where private companies do not offer policies at broadly affordable rates.
In essence an opt-in.
Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman - one of the 60 votes needed by Reid - opposed the plan yesterday saying,"The last thing that we want to do now is create another Washington-run health insurance company."
Oh, here's a little something you can take to your 10 o'clock coffee klatch. According to the Washington Post
Because the program would begin taking in premiums immediately but would not start paying benefits until 2016, congressional budget analysts have forecast that it would generate nearly $60 billion over the next 10 years.
Who's the legislative counsel on this bill, Bernie Madoff?
And, who is going to be paying those $60 billion in premiums?
Dear Mr. Mullings
Enclosed please find a bill for your share of the National Health Insurance plan. On the off chance that you are still alive in 2016, you will be eligible to participate in the benefits of this excellent plan if, and only if, the state in which you are then residing has not opted out. Until then, pay up, bub.
Read me that 10th Amendment, again?
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.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the NY Times, and the Washington Post. Also a pretty amusing Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.