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Enforce the Tenth Amendment by starting an orderly transfer of power and responsibility from the federal government back “to the states, respectively, or to the people,” as the Constitution requires. Over the next year, state and local officials and citizens will be asked to identify the areas which can be transferred back home.
The discussion of any new piece of federal legislation must begin with a serious consideration of the Tenth Amendment:This bill will decisively return power and responsibility to the states and the citizens.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
With every new law, initiative, and reform, Washington must ask itself: Are we overstepping our bounds and usurping powers that should belong to the people and the states?
For too long, Washington has ignored this fundamental question.
As a result, far too much power has migrated from the people and the states to Washington and its bureaucracies.
America works best when states are free to craft innovative policies and compete with one another for talent, resources, and investment.
When Washington imposes one-size-fits-all rules and regulations, the positive and unique advantages of our federalist system are lost.
Many responsibilities that the federal government has assumed to itself should be returned to the states.
For example, during my Speakership, we passed the first major overhaul of an entitlement program in American history with welfare reform in 1996. Under the old system, the federal government gave states a blank check, and often incentivized welfare recipients not to enter the workforce. Naturally, spending growth was out of control, and the program did little to alleviate poverty. Our reform changed this: States now get only a fixed amount – a “block grant” – every year, and can design their welfare system however they want as long as they require recipients to eventually enter work.
Within five years, various measures of poverty had plummeted to historic lows. Nearly two out of three welfare recipients were working, and the federal government had saved billions of dollars on future welfare costs.
We can build on this success by identifying other means-tested entitlement programs that can be block granted to the states. There are 184 other means-tested entitlements that could be block granted in a similar manner to our reform in 1996. One program alone – Medicaid – could save the federal government over $700 billion in the next decade, according to Congressman Paul Ryan’s 2012 Republican Budget. Not only would these programs be more responsive and dynamic on a state level, but Americans would save hundreds of billions of federal tax dollars every year.
I will need advice from state and local leaders and citizens as we come together to identify what other responsibilities must be taken out of Washington and transferred back to the states, or to the people.