States rights might be best medicine for TrumpCare
© Greg Nash

The Senate vote is a declaration of war

When senators vote on health care they will come face to face with a phantom which has stalked them since Obamacare was first proposed. This is the moment of no return. This will change everything.

This will not only throw millions of Americans off health coverage. Passage of the bill will actually take American lives. And like the Civil War and the two world wars, it will take lives in every town in America and in every extended family in America.


If they pass this bill, come September, we will be a different nation. The Supreme Court has sealed the deal on health care. The senators who vote in favor of this bill will bear the responsibility of denying millions of Americans health care and the broader impacts of the decision.


Today we have come to a critical turning in our history which we have been slouching toward for more than a decade. Americans no longer trust their president. We no longer trust Congress. 

We in the liberal states are turning now to governors and state legislatures to solve our problem in unprecedented ways.

And California Gov. Jerry Brown is leading the way. 

“Trumpcare 2.0 has the same stench - and effect - as the bill the House Republicans and the White House slapped together last month: Millions will lose healthcare coverage while millionaires profit,” Brown said to the Los Angeles Times.

Not just an idle rant. 

Brown is redefining the meaning and purpose of a state. This will redefine America because other states and even nations sympathetic to him — more sympathetic to Brown than they are to Trump — are following his initiatives, joining him and ignoring Trump.

But can they do that? 

Can U.S. states right Trump’s wrongs, asks Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former senior policy adviser at the International Monetary Fund.

“U.S. President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE, with the help of a Republican-controlled Congress, is undermining many of the fundamental values that Americans hold dear,” he writes in Project Syndicate. “He is jeopardizing their access to health care by seeking to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). His budget proposes massive cuts in everything from early childhood education to food stamps and medical research. His tax reform plan, and especially its much lower top rate for “pass-through” business income, implies significant further redistribution of income to the wealthy.”

It is a good time to remember that ours is a federal system enshrined in the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution, which stipulates that all powers not expressly assigned to the federal government are ‘reserved to the states’ he writes.

As he indicates, that presents the problem.

“They could invoke the Commerce Clause of the Constitution as part of an effort to prevent states from signing climate accords with foreign countries,” he says. “They could eliminate the federal deductibility of state taxes to increase the cost of funding state programs. They could curtail federal support for public services in sanctuary cities and states with immigrant-friendly policies.”

But states rights and the Tenth Amendment are catching on as an anti-Trump strategy in blue states. They’re not just for us New Hampshire hillbillies anymore. 

And we even heard from John Vogel, a professor at the Tuck School at Dartmouth pitching states rights on the most liberal Vermont Public Radio this past week.

It might be time to consider a council of governors or other leaders in these states to meet to collectively consider their efforts and even a “policy planning group” which would plan collective and unified action within the blue states — both ideas that the great ambassador George Kennan suggested for the U.S. which never materialized. And such a thing might already be at hand in fledgling form.

“Professor Trump’s curious tutorial tour through the tangled landscape of American checks and balances continues to take enlightening new turns, writes D.J. Tice of the Star Tribune in Minnesota. “This month, governors of mainly Democratic-leaning states, including Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, have forged something called the U.S. Climate Alliance.”

Surely the new U.S. Climate Alliance could take on other issues like health care, immigration and the commerce clause.

Worth noting that Jeb Bush supports a constitutional convention in order to remove restraints on the commerce clause “which has given the federal government far more regulatory power than the Founders intended,” he says.

But as he opined recently, “who cares what I think?”

Certainly not the Republicans.

But libertarians might.

Maybe Jeb should get in touch with his old pal William Weld, the most popular (and best) Republican governor in the history of Massachusetts who ran as VP on the Libertarian ticket in 2016 and begin again from scratch with a few other exiles. 

Bernie Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.