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Letter to the Editor: Pat Sorrells

The Constitution of the United States is very clear about which powers are vested in our federal government. These powers are called delegated powers, and are explicitly enumerated to avoid any confusion as to what the federal government can and cannot regulate. The powers that each individual state has are called reserved powers. While many of these powers are detailed, there is one little-known caveat. The tenth amendment to the Constitution states that all remaining powers not specifically delegated to the federal government are reserved for the state governments. President Donald Trump, along with the Republican controlled House and Senate, have a keen understanding of this, and are continually utilizing it to dissolve a lot of the federal overreach that has been going on over the past few decades. Through Trump’s rhetoric, his recent executive orders, and the activity of the GOP in the House and Senate, one can easily see that a focal point of the Trump administration thus far is to give the regulatory power the federal government had unconstitutionally grasped back to each individual state government.

One of the core principles of the Republican platform is that of a limited federal government. Putting regulatory power back into the states’ hands directly supports that political ideology. The following are three examples where Trump and the GOP have attempted to vest regulatory power back in the hands of the states and consequently scale back the federal government’s reach: Scott Pruitt’s nomination to the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump’s executive order on the Affordable Care Act, and the dismantling of the Department of Education.

Recently, Scott Pruitt was nominated and confirmed as the head of the EPA. This move was not popular with the liberal crowd. Democrats everywhere saw him as an opponent of EPA regulation and a puppet of the coal and oil industry. Scott Pruitt, previously known as the Attorney General of Oklahoma, was a prominent proponent of coal and oil in the state of Oklahoma during his time in the state government. In an article published by The New York Times, Scott Pruitt is quoted as saying, “It is the job of the attorney general to defend the interests and well-being of the citizens and the state of Oklahoma. This includes protecting Oklahoma’s economy from the perilous effects of federal overreach by agencies like the EPA. The energy sector is a major driver of the Oklahoma economy.” Not only is Scott Pruitt responsibly concerned about Oklahoma’s economy, but he is also concerned with a federal government agency’s recent attempts to regulate issues that, constitutionally speaking, should have been up to the states to regulate. This is why during his time as Attorney General of Oklahoma he sued the EPA multiple times. He firmly believes that this federal agency has overstepped its regulatory powers, and must be stopped. Scott Pruitt is the perfect man to head the EPA under the Trump Administration since Donald Trump himself has stated on numerous occasions that he wants to significantly scale back the EPA.

Another area in which Donald Trump is concerned with giving power back to the state governments is healthcare. In an executive order he gave during the first week of his presidency, Donald Trump ordered multiple federal agencies to lessen the overall burden of the ACA. An excerpt of his order quoted in an article published in The Washington Post says, “To the maximum extent permitted by law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the heads of all other executive departments and agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the [Affordable Care] Act shall exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provsion or requirement of the [Affordable Care] Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.” To put it simply, Trump wants these agencies to do whatever they can to prevent the ACA from causing any more financial harm to consumers, organizations, or insurers. The ACA is inherently un-Republican in the sense that it involves the federal government regulating something that should have been within each individual state’s power to regulate. Furthermore, even though the ACA was ruled constitutional, dismantling the ACA is in the Republican’s best interest if they want to scale back the current reach of the federal government to something more financially responsible.

In an article published by NPR News, the public is informed that the GOP introduced a bill into the House of Representatives that would completely abolish the Department of Education. This would mean that common core, (which is looked at by many conservatives to be an utter failure), data collection, oversight, student aid programs, and many more services currently being provided to the American people by this federal agency with a budget of 68 billion dollars would be essentially eliminated on December 31, 2018 if the bill is passed into law. As of late, my Facebook feed has exploded with furious liberals ranting about how irresponsible the GOP was being in regards to eliminating this federal agency altogether. What these liberals failed to realize was that once eliminated, educational regulatory power would be given back to each individual state to do with as they see fit. Yes, there wouldn’t be any way to objectively assess the educational levels of our students (we were actually never able to do this effectively even without common core), students would be without federal financial aid, and many other services would be gone. But the educational regulatory responsibilities would be back in the hands of the states, which is one degree of separation closer to the people. This would arguably make our educational systems more effective in the long-run, for we’d be able to tailor each system to the state’s population and desires.

These are only three examples of instances where President Donald Trump and the GOP have acted on the strongly held conservative political belief in small, limited federal government. There is no doubt that during Trump’s presidency he will continue to give the states back the power the federal government so greedily took. I challenge liberals to look at what Donald Trump and the GOP are doing and ask themselves if they are acting on strongly held political beliefs or not. If they aren’t, I’d be the first one to call them out on it for potentially being irresponsible and senseless. Being able to identify when and where political parties are acting on their strongly held political beliefs is only the first step. The second step is attempting to discern why each party holds their beliefs. This is where informed, thoughtful discussions can take place that will educate the future leaders of America.

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