On the homepage today, I have a column arguing that Congress should mind its own business and let the states mind theirs. I urge conservatives in Congress to start disentangling the finances and regulatory activities of state and federal governments. Here’s a bit:
According to the White House, the average federal deficit over the past 30 years amounted to 3.4 percent of GDP. The average amount of federal transfers to state and local governments during the same period was 3.0 percent of GDP. […] In effect, the federal government is running up huge deficits in order to purchase control of state governments. The problems that arise from this disastrous intermingling of federal and state finances are almost endless.
My work in this area owes an enormous debt to the work of Dr. Michael Greve (formerly of AEI, now at George Mason University School of Law). His latest book, The Upside Down Constitution (2012), sheds a completely new light on many of our most pressing constitutional issues, by synthesizing political-economy analysis (specifically, the application of economics to the study of how government institutions function and interact) with constitutional jurisprudence. (Ramesh reviewed the book for NR last March). Greve’s previous book, Real Federalism (1999), is as good a primer on the constitutional history of federalism as you’ll find anywhere.