A Note to Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels on the Subject of Federal Funding and States' Rights:
Let the Rude Pundit tell you a little story from the dark, tormented 1980s. Back in 1984, Congress passed a law that was sponsored by Republicans and Democrats. It was the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, and what it did was say that should a state not raise its drinking age to 21, that state would lose 5% or so of its highway funds. It passed by a voice vote in both the House and the Senate. Grudgingly, President Ronald Reagan signed it because it was better to not be on the wrong side of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. And because a veto would have been overridden.
During the years of the debate, the Rude Pundit was in the sweet spot between 18 and 21, so he was really interested in how the whole thing would play out in his home state. And Louisiana was one of the last holdouts. If you don’t know, the real religion of Louisiana is alcohol. Drugs weren’t an issue at his high school because everyone was just drinking all the time. Fer fuck’s sake, there’s drive-thru daiquiri huts, where a single piece of scotch tape on the plastic lid is enough to indicate a closed container.
Oh, yes, the Louisiana legislature was filled with rebels then, people not wanting the federal government to boss ‘em around, to tell ‘em what to do. States' rights, man, that was the cry. Hell, no, the Pelican State wasn’t gonna let Washington say that teenagers couldn’t have a beer. The impeccable illogic of having Mississippi with a 21 year-old drinking age and Louisiana with an 18 year-old one was lost on the deluded Federalists, many of whom had constituents a-feared of losing money. Bloody borders were about individual conduct, weren’t they?
But, of course, eventually, Louisiana punked out in 1986, as did every other state, faced with the loss of millions of dollars.
South Dakota, though, decided to sue the federal government to get the law declared unconstitutional. And when the case of South Dakota v. Dole got to the Supreme Court in 1987, well, it was 7-2 in favor of the federal government, with William Rehnquist and John Paul Stevens agreeing, as did noted states' rights fellatrix Antonin Scalia. Yep, Scalia agreed with Rehnquist’s opinion that affirmed that the Federal Government "does have power to fix the terms upon which its money allotments to states shall be disbursed.” And that “we cannot conclude, however, that a conditional grant of federal money of this sort is unconstitutional simply by reason of its success in achieving the congressional objective.” Which is not to mention that “we conclude that encouragement to state action found in [the act] is a valid use of the spending power.” In other words, you don't like the conditions, you don't have to take the fucking money. But if you want the fucking money, you agree to the conditions.
Yes, history will sodomize your specious ideology righteously. And when history’s done fucking your ass, he’ll turn you over and fuck your face. Mitch Daniels is learning this lesson right now after signing the bill that takes away federal Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood in Indiana. Chris Christie is learning that, too, since he diverted funds that were given to New Jersey for a new Hudson River train tunnel to other transportation projects. In other words, the governors are being dishonorable fuckers. They are breaking contracts, or at least unilaterally changing the terms, essentially, and now they're gonna have to pay or stop being jackasses.
So when conservatives get upset about the coercive nature of DC telling states what they can do with money that came from the federal government, they can thank the sainted Rehnquist and Scalia for giving the feds the power to do so.