The filibuster is not the only element of our governance that Democrats want to destroy. Also in their crosshairs: states’ rights and our federalist system.
Big blue states like California and New York are losing residents to red states like Florida and Texas. Democrats are alarmed, since that shift in population will cost them seats in the House of Representatives and Electoral College votes, making it harder for them to gain and keep power.
People voting with their feet also deepens the fiscal woes of states like New Jersey; the Garden State, which for three years running has ranked first in most outbound traffic, cannot afford to lose more high-earning folks.
Instead of trying to fix the policies that are driving people out of their states, like high taxes and cumbersome labor laws, Democrats want to impose those unpopular mandates nation-wide.
At best, they are sore losers. At worst, they are power-mad authoritarians. You decide.
An analysis of preliminary Census data late last year by the Brookings Institute concluded that New York and California each stood to lose a House seat, while Florida was likely to gain two. Consequently, the Sunshine State, which voted for President TrumpDonald TrumpFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Giving thanks for Thanksgiving itself Immigration provision in Democrats' reconciliation bill makes no sense MORE in both 2016 and 2020 and which currently boasts a popular Republican governor, will likely soon have more representatives than New York.
Other states will see their numbers change as well, including Texas, which will gain three seats. Adding up the gains and losses and ascribing political affiliation (imperfectly) on the basis of the 2020 election outcome, the GOP could pick up a total of eight seats.
The potential loss of seats in Democrat-governed states set off alarm bells in our nation’s capital, where, coincidentally, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise The GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous MORE’s (D-Calif.) advantage is exactly eight seats. In response, Democrats are pushing bills that would put the federal government in charge of states’ labor laws, fiscal policies and voting rules. They want to eliminate the competition between states that they are losing badly.
Consider the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, otherwise known as the PRO Act, recently passed by Democrats in the House and endorsed by President BidenJoe BidenUS lawmakers arrive in Taiwan to meet with local officials Biden meets with Coast Guard on Thanksgiving Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE. Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian Biden administration to release oil from strategic reserve: reports MORE (D-N.Y.) has reportedly promised AFL-CIO head Richard Trumpka that he will bring the bill to the Senate floor if Democrats can find 50 co-sponsors; currently the bill has 45 backers.
The PRO Act, among other things, would override right-to-work laws, which are currently in place in 27 states. Those state statutes allow workers to decline to join a union or to pay union dues. In addition, some states also prevent employers and unions from requiring union membership as a condition for employment.
States have implemented right-to-work laws as long ago as the 1940s (Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, among others) and as recently as 2017 (Kentucky). The laws vary, but essentially pit workers’ freedoms against union coercion and power. More recently, states have looked to RTW legislation to help attract employers and investment by offering lower labor costs; studies show they are effective.
For example, from 1990-2012, RTW states comprised 13 of the 20 states with the fastest growth in median household income. Of the 15 states that had below-average income growth when compared to the national average, 10 were non-right-to-work states. From 1990 through 2014, right-to-work states averaged job growth at about twice the rate of non-right-to-work states.
Democrats in blue states like Illinois, where the latest unemployment rate was 7.7 percent, don’t like the competition from lower-cost RTW neighbors such as Indiana, where unemployment is around 4.2 percent. They are pushing PRO to even the playing field. Who gets hurt? Workers, whose jobs may go outside the country, or disappear altogether through automation.
In an even more egregious effort to stifle competition, Democrats stuffed into the reckless $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan a provision prohibiting states from using the money they will collect from the federal government to lower taxes. Imagine.
Why would they include such a provision? Because one of the biggest items in that pork-fest of a bill was $195 billion for the states which is, according to the Tax Foundation, equivalent to roughly 20 percent of their annual revenues. Since on average states did not see a big COVID-19 hit to their income, some will want to use the funds to relieve overburdened taxpayers.
Unhappily, that would not include many blue states currently sinking under the weight of overly-generous benefits given to public employee unions over many years. They need the money and cannot lower taxes.
It is worth noting that the apportionment of the funds in the American Rescue Plan was made according to the number of unemployed people in each state. By that token red states, which generally have more people working, are already disadvantaged.
Another egregious power grab is HR1, the 800-page For the People Act, which would tell states how to run their elections, in great detail, including what kind of glue should be used on the mail-in ballot envelopes. (Self-stick only, please.)
Generally, the bill squashes states’ attempts to bolster election security (by outlawing voter IDs or ballot harvesting, for example) and mandates numerous activities designed to enhance turnout among Democratic voters, such as automatic voter registration and expanding mail-in and early voting.
HR1 also takes the critical job of redistricting away from state legislatures and dictates a new approach that will almost certainly benefit Democrats, of course.
In addition, the bill requires greater disclosure of donors who give to political causes, meant to stifle funding from conservatives who, more than Democrats, might fear harassment as a result of their views going public.
This comes as President Biden’s allies have established a nonprofit to help push his priorities called Building Back Together, which promises to take in unlimited funds and which will refuse to disclose its donors. So much for Biden’s promise of transparency.
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.