Federal Funds ALWAYS Have Strings Attached

Foreign Aid isn’t the only instance of Federal funds having strings attached. As I noted previously, one of the reasons we give monetary and other forms of aid to other countries, is so that we can establish a “string” to pull on should we need to exert some influence on their behavior.


However, our Foreign Policy isn’t the only arena in which the Federal government uses this technique. Closer to home, Federally funded, stand alone, state and local programs , along with joint, Federal-State programs, are all subject to Federal strings. This is how the Federal government gets around state sovereignty issues. For now at least, there are still some things the Federal government may not force states to do. These funds give the Feds leverage to “encourage” cooperation, often resulting in severe degradation of state sovereignty and sometimes civil rights.

Once a state or locality has been the recipient of Federal dollars for any length of time, it grows dependent upon those dollars. Government entities become so dependent, they often “bet on the come,” by including Federal funds in their forward budget projections. If for some reason those funds are withheld, budgetary havoc ensues. The Federal government and its legions of unelected bureaucrats know this. Every dollar that the state or local government gets back (The Feds can’t give what they first don’t take away) from the Feds, comes with specified and implied constraints.

The specified constraints aren’t usually the problem. For example, Federal highways built and maintained with joint State-Federal dollars must meet certain specifications…materials, construction methods and the like. These are clearly related to quality and hopefully lead to best results on any given project.


However, some Federal strings have little relation to the project being funded and are solely about Federal control. Some examples regarding Federal Highway Funds were enforcement of the national 55 MPH speed limit, national motorcycle helmet law and raising the drinking age to 21.

Some other examples hit closer to home and have led to some egregious civil rights violations and the destruction of lives. Title IX U.S. Code involves equal treatment of women in Education. During the Obama administration, his Department of Education rewrote Federal guidance regarding the handling of ”sexual assault” cases. These new regs came with thinly veiled threats to withhold federal funding from Universities and Public School districts for failure to comply with these new regulations.

As has been determined by numerous court cases, these new regulations turned presumption of innocence on its head. Male students could be charged and “convicted” in a School run process outside the criminal justice system, without being able to see the evidence against them or in many cases, unable to confront their accusers. Several students have been later proven in civil court to have been wrongly “convicted” and expelled…but not before their reputations were ruined—all to exert Federal control and promote a leftist agenda. This is dangerous to our Republic.


Where do conservative, liberty loving states and locales go next? The answer is simple, but tough. The best way to put some limits on this form of Federal control, is to limit dependence on Federal funding. Every Federal dollar comes with strings attached. Some visible, most hidden. It’s tough, but in the long run, states and localities that run their own tight budgetary ship, will be rewarded. Such states will of course attract highly motivated, skilled workers. Just make sure they don’t bring their Blue State attitudes with them.

Mike Ford, a retired Infantry Officer, writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.

Follow him on Twitter: @MikeFor10394583

You can find his other Red State work here.


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