Thursday, January 05, 2017


Republicans talk a lot about the evils of the big central government in Washington, D.C. They tell us that it's much better when things are controlled at the local level.

But apparently they prefer it if control doesn't become too local:
After consolidating power in Washington, D.C., and state capitals under President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans are moving to prevent large cities dominated by Democrats from enacting sweeping liberal agendas.

Republican state legislatures are planning so-called preemption laws, which prevent cities and counties from passing new measures governing everything from taxes to environmental regulations and social issues....

In just the last month, legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin have passed laws preempting local governments from banning plastic grocery bags. In the last few years, courts have upheld the rights of Colorado and Texas legislators to prevent municipalities from banning hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, within their borders. Ohio is the latest state to preempt local efforts to raise the minimum wage, after Cleveland tried to boost wages for its lowest-paid workers....

Even the controversial HB2 law, passed last year by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature, is a preemption law: It blocked the city of Charlotte from enforcing anti-discrimination measures that were stronger than statewide laws already on the books....

Legislators in other Republican-led states are likely to target so-called sanctuary cities, which give shelter to undocumented immigrants. Pennsylvania Republicans are likely to consider ways to preempt a new tax on sodas and sugary beverages in Philadelphia.
When Democrats control the White House, we hear a lot from right-wingers about the evils of centralization. This can sound like principled talk, but it's really just a way to make it easier for fat cats to get what they want. Folks like the Koch brothers know that it's much cheaper to buy an election at the state level, which is one big reason so many state legislatures are GOP-controlled now. If decisions are made at the state level, a much smaller outlay buys the necessary electoral victories, and thus the results the rich want.

But Republicans never admit that that's the plan. Some even give the notion of devolving responsibility to lower levels of government a religious tinge. Here's the sanctimonious Paul Ryan in 2012:
To me, the principle of subsidiarity, which is really federalism, meaning government closest to the people governs best, having a civil society of the principal of solidarity where we, through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities, through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community, that’s how we advance the common good. By not having big government crowd out civic society, but by having enough space in our communities so that we can interact with each other, and take care of people who are down and out in our communities.
(Emphasis added.)

This is Ryan in pretending-to-be-a good-Catholic mode, as Wikipedia explains:
Subsidiarity is a principle of social organization that originated in the Roman Catholic Church. In its most basic formulation, it holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate (or local) level that is consistent with their resolution. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary (that is, a supporting, rather than a subordinate) function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.
Obviously, Ryan is talking about getting government out of certain functions (like parts of the social safety net) altogether -- but what he says is "government closest to the people governs best." Isn't that local government? And in cities, isn't that city government? Don't mayors and city council members understand better than those at the state and federal levels what low-wage workers need to deal with high living costs? Don't they know best how to limit the guns used in crimes, how to address the needs of LGBT people, and so on?

Nahh. Democrats run cities, so Jesus makes a subsidiarity exception, I guess. Sure, it's best to do things at the government level closest to the people, but only if that level is run by the GOP.


Never Ben Better said...

Remember Leona Helmsley's famous comment? “We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” The rules only apply to the despised others; never to the self-appointed masters of the universe. Same mindset.

rclz said...

California is gearing up to fight the feds tooth and nail when they try and over turn environmental and wages laws. I'm hoping every time there is a suit that my state, Washington will join them.

Ken_L said...

You're very unfair. Republicans are faithful to the principle that "social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate (or local) level that is consistent with their resolution". And the problem of Der Ewige Liberal can only be resolved by resolute National Action.

Anonymous said...

My guns are clean, Ken, and well oiled.

Bring your resolute national action on.

Ten Bears

Ed Baptist said...

As my Democratic state senator, Mike Woodard, explained in a meeting, NC is not a home rule state. The General Assembly can and does redistrict local governing bodies, doubling up incumbents and creating empty districts when too many Democrats are elected.