California state officials announced a plan Monday to combat rumored health care cuts coming from the nation’s capital. The state will provide $20 million for health care clinics to remain open after the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans finally release the American Covert Healthcare Act. Experts and analysts predict the Obamacare replacement will eliminate or significantly reduce health-care funding and accessibility for millions of Americans.
While the federal plan to cut heath care will affect every state, California is the first to take preparatory action. As Washington politicians toy with funding based on personal principles, and federal aid becomes less reliable, states may incur snowballing fiscal burdens. However, as they bear more responsibility for their citizens, individual states may also seek increasing independence from federal oversight.
California is the most populous state. Its 39 million residents represent slightly more than 10% of the U.S. population. In fiscal year 2014 the federal government spent nearly $356 billion in California and the state paid $369 billion in total federal tax. California is consistently a donor state and one of the five least federally dependent states as ranked by a 2017 WalletHub.com report. Its residents receive $0.99, or more than 20% less than the national average, for every federal tax dollar paid.
In other words…what does California — and the other four least dependent states of Illinois, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Delaware — need the feds for? (As an aside, the most federally dependent state is Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, where taking away health care dollars will serious affect his constituents.)
As the federal government provides fewer fiscal incentives and benefits for other less dependent states like Connecticut, Nevada, and New Hampshire, will the states be more reticent to bend to federal rules, regulations, oversight, and control? Already, we see a trend beginning to develop.
In standing up to the federal government and assuming fiscal responsibility for health care shortfalls, California is also snubbing the Trump administration’s position on Planned Parenthood and abortion. The state will fund the clinics that Washington defunding would otherwise force to close. Though California is first to address the healthcare crisis, other states and jurisdictions have begun breaking the strangleholds of a variety of federal rules.
Washington state and Colorado voters ignored federal law when they pioneered the recreational use of marijuana in 2012. Since then, other states have followed suit, expanding the number of states where cannabis is legal for either medicinal or recreational uses. Even the District of Columbia — the seat of the federal machine — has legalized pot, and Delaware is on the way to being the first state to legalize its use by legislation rather than public referendum.
It must drive Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions mad knowing that, somewhere in their fair kingdom, Capitol aides are going home from work each day and…. The marijuana movement has essentially become one of the leading examples of the rising impotence of the federal government.
Every city that declares itself a sanctuary city, and sanctuary states, too, disregard federal immigration laws. Two months ago, New York City announced an ambitious plan to help thousands of poor immigrants gain citizenship — by waiving or supplementing the federal application fees in direct opposition to the White House. In each instance states and cities are rejecting the Trump administration’s control, instead establishing ethical policies based on higher morality than demonstrated in Washington’s hallowed halls. With a growing number of states setting policy independent of the federal government, it becomes progressively challenging for Washington’s myriad agencies to prosecute and enforce every violation.
Washington, D.C. is losing a grip on the country, which may explain why the current administration and congress are trying so desperately to hold on with an iron fist. As the country sees power ebb from Capitol Hill, maybe Donald Trump’s miserable failure as president will be a fascinating and rewarding irony. Decentralized power may eventually make the republic great again, state by individual state and starting with California.