Diary

A Reminder: It is UNCONSTITUTIONAL for the Federal Government to be 'funded by the states' (ala 'Fair Tax').

Among opponents of the 16th Amendment, a common sentiment is that it should be repealed & replaced by a scheme wherein the federal government collects no taxes, but rather subsists on monies provided by the individual states.

The so-called ‘Fair Tax’ (which isn’t at all ‘fair’ – but that’s a whole ‘nother diary) among various other schemes relies on this idea.

That said, if you take an originalist or textualist view of the Constitution, it  ABSOLUTELY does not allow for the federal government to be funded in this manner.

From the US Constitution:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence[note 1] and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

You will note that the federal government is allowed to ‘lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts & excises’. This is the *only* means of funding the government – beyond the ‘fines’ mentioned in the 4th & 5th amendment – that is enumerated in the Constitution.

There is exactly NO provision, anywhere, that permits the federal government to be funded by monies provided by the states, en-leiu of laying/collecting taxes.

Now, one might say, to repeal the 16th Ammendment would require a new ammendment to be passed, within which we could *add* a provision to fund the federal government via state money – and even edit-out the original taxation clause. And yes, this is true – but it would be a HORRIBLY BAD ideal.

Why?

First, from a historical perspecitve, the Founders had first-hand experience with this situation, as it was the method by which the national government was funded under the Articles of Confederation. The failure of this method to raise enough funds to operate even the most basic of government functions (such as suppressing the Shays Rebellion – a task which *should* have fallen to the state or national government, but for the fact neither could afford to do it) was THE REASON we had a Constitutional Convention in the first place.

Beyond that, a federal government that is ‘funded by the states’ is a government that cannot govern. While some conservatives may reflexively cheer this, they are missing the point: A federal government that cannot govern is not ‘a government that cannot govern conservative states’ – it is ‘a government that cannot govern at all‘.

Dreams of red states ‘witholding money’ from the feds for various violations of conservative orthodoxy ignore the fact that a world in which Texas can refuse to ‘fund the federal government’ over Obamacare & executive amnesty, is ALSO a world where California can refuse to fund the federal government over ‘not addressing Climate Change’… Or where Vermont can refuse to fund because of the ‘lack of a (single-payer) national health care system’… Illinois might refuse to fund because they simply do not have the money, after blowing it all on ‘blue model’ golden-paychecks for public employees… The US government’s only recourse to collect would be civil war – which we can all agree is bad ju-ju…

Finally, the time is fast-approaching where Conservatives will *need* federal power in order to move the Conservative agenda as a cohesive policy-platform at a national level. Liberals are now ‘figuring out’ how the ‘states rights’ argument can be used to enact their policies at the state-level, using the blue states combined economic power to force nationwide economic changes through state legislation (California’s pernicious environmental regulation is a great example of this. Another would be lax voting standards in blue states)… The only way to stop it, is with Federal legislation (under the Supremacy, Commerce & Republican Government clauses)…. Which would not be possible with a state-funded tax-replacement scheme.