A couple weeks a go I received a book in the mail from the Utah Chapter of The Tenth Amendment Center. The TAC is a libertarian leaning organization with a focus on State's Rights.
The premise of the book is that the size and scope of our Federal government far exceeds the original intent as defined by our Constitution. The size of our central government has swollen due to abuses of the "Commerce Clause", "General Welfare Clause", and "Necessary and Property Clause" of our founding document. Incidentally, the power and authority of our state governments have diminished in proportion to the consolidation of power at the Federal level. The book provides legal and historical precedents for states to act in order to provide a legitimate check to an ambitious Federal Government.
The book was a fascinating read of early American history and an articulation the Jeffersonian doctrine of nullification. It documents the struggle between states like Kentucky, Virginia, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Idaho, Connecticut and others as their state legislatures acted to nullify intrusive and unconstitutional laws.
One of the most intriguing ideas presented in the book is the concept of Federal Tax Escrow Accounts. Basically this is an account that Federal Taxes, when collected by the state, are deposited into. However, rather than forwarding those funds directly to the Federal Government, the State Legislature would debate the constitutionality of the Federal Budget and then forward the appropriate funds to Washington. The remainder would be retained for State use and without the strings attached that so often come with Federal money. This kind of tool has tremendous applications and would keep tax money and decision making close to the people which is where it belongs. The first major implication that comes to mind is keeping our Federal Government's 8% contribution to our schools here in Utah without such ridiculous mandates like No Child Left Behind attached to it. Imagine teaching our children how we know best to do it but without expensive Federal requirements and silliness.
The book is definitely worth a read and I believe the concepts are worthy of merit. I know several legislators who have bills on the table this session that will address this nullification issue. It will bring a much needed debate on the subject and I am sure will enlightening everyone.