Don’t Forget States Created the Federal Government
By Rep. Kristi Noem
Washington often forgets a reality President Reagan so succinctly explained: “[T]he Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government.” One of my primary objectives as South Dakota’s sole member of the House of Representatives is to reduce the federal government’s influence, giving state and local governments as well as individuals more opportunities to make the decisions that impact their families and communities most. This was something I spoke with the South Dakota State Legislature about earlier this month.
I join the thousands of South Dakotans who are deeply concerned that the Obama administration has stepped over its Constitutional limits and grossly expanded the role of the federal government in our lives. I am proud that over the last few years, we have passed dozens of bills to return more and more authority to states and individuals. We haven’t always been successful in getting the President to sign them into law, but we’ve put the marker down and made some meaningful progress along the way.
For instance, bureaucrats in Washington have been able to micromanage our children’s classrooms for far too long. Last December, we passed, and convinced the President to sign, the first major education overhaul since 2002. With this new legislation in place, those closest to our kids will be more empowered to design an education system that is right for them. As an example, we made sure the federal government could no longer pressure states into adopting specific standards, such as Common Core.
Congress also passed into law the first long-term highway bill in a decade. This legislation gives states five-years of certainty to plan, invest, and conduct maintenance on our intricate network of roads, bridges and railways. It also gave state leaders more flexibility to spend money in a way that worked at the local level.
I’ve been fighting for flexibility like this because I put a lot more trust in our state government than the federal. Rather than handing down federal mandates, Washington should be taking lessons from the states about what really works. After all, states are often incubators for innovative public policy and South Dakota is no exception.
We have an incredibly healthy economy. Not only does South Dakota have a higher percentage of people participating in the workforce than most states do, but our unemployment rate is the second-lowest in the country. Much of this is due to the fact that the state government puts minimal burdens on families, whether through fewer regulations or lower taxes.
Despite the successes we’ve long been able to share, I am the first South Dakota Representative in history to serve on the congressional committee responsible for designing our nation’s tax policy. I see my duty on that committee as an overdue opportunity to share our experience as a proven example of what can be accomplished by a government for its people.
During my first year on the committee, we were able to put permanent protections in place that keep more Americans from enduring tax hikes. For example, we permanently extended the state and local sales tax deduction, which will save people money in states like South Dakota that don’t burden their citizens with a state income tax.
Protecting states’ rights is critical. Earlier this month, America lost a great legal mind and a tremendous defender of the 10th Amendment, which preserves states’ rights. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of admirable faith and unyielding candor, but perhaps one of the greatest gifts Justice Scalia imparted upon the Supreme Court was a lesson that the words captured within the Constitution matter. That includes the 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution … are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” I couldn’t agree more.