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Horowitz: Sovereignty! Tennessee legislature proposes giving back all federal education funds

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This is 1776 all over again, except our opponent is not a king across the ocean, but our own federal government. We’ve actualized the nightmare premonition of some of our Founders in which the federal government has voided every aspect of the Constitution and threatens our liberties and way of life more than any foreign enemy. What is the recourse? State interposition? Well, it’s quite evident that will never happen until the red states cut the cord tying them to the federal spigot. Tennessee Speaker Cameron Sexton has introduced a bill that might finally make states free if they have the courage to make it so.

State legislatures catalyzed the American Revolution by convening the Committees of Correspondence to communicate between the colonies and eventually form the Continental Congress. The rebellion was exemplified through the Boston Tea Party, when the colonists showed they were willing to shoot the hostage by jeopardizing their trade with England. Well, today, if we ever hope for the red states to serve as the same engine for individual freedom, they will have to relinquish their desire for federal funding, which is used as a coercive tool to force social transformation upon the states. That begins with education funding.

Tennessee receives $1.8 billion in annual federal education funding, but in a first-of-its-kind bill, Speaker Sexton has introduced legislation forming a commission to explore giving back all of that money and, instead of federal subsidies, assuming 100% control and responsibility for the state’s own education system with state funding. Rather than waiting for the next vapid promise from GOP presidential candidates to repeal the Department of Education, they are de facto repealing it for their purposes.

Last week, Speaker Sexton and Lt. Governor Randy McNally introduced House Bill 1249/ Senate Bill 1507, which would create an 11-person committee to explore what it would take to remove the state from federal education funding and assume responsibility for all education with state funding. The commission would be chaired by the state’s education commissioner and composed of six legislators, two school superintendents, and two teachers. They’d be tasked with providing the governor and legislature with a proposal on the feasibility of withdrawing from the federal education programs by December 1, so they could be ready to act by next year’s legislative session.

States are forced into rigid restrictions as to how the funding is spent, and of course, they are forced to adopt the left’s culture war in return for the funding. Kudos to the Tennessee lawmakers for finally recognizing that red states are acting like abused wives, and they will never be free so long as they are reliant on the federal government for funding. Title IX funding, in particular, has been used as a cudgel by the federal government to promote the left’s culture war, such as transgender bathrooms.

Also, when states take federal funding, they have to hire more personnel just to deal with paperwork and compliance reports. Were they to remain free of federal funding, they could likely do more with less and lose all of the gratuitous grooming, anti-American agenda items, and critical race theory while they’re at it.

However, this is not just about education. It’s about making red states red on every issue. For those of us who tried to convince red-state legislatures to fight back against the CDC on COVID mandates, the biggest impediment was their frantic concern over losing federal health care funding. Moreover, they accepted a ton of federal cash for the pandemic, which drove the odious policies and made red states indistinguishable from blue states. Until they cut the umbilical cord of poisoned federal milk, red states will remain mere pro-life, pro-gun versions of socialist, woke governance.

Incidentally, Tennessee is also the state where a lawmaker has introduced what is likely the broadest nullification bill, enabling the governor, legislature, state courts, and county governments to prohibit implementation of federal policies they deem unconstitutional. However, in order for that bill to succeed, the state must wean itself off its dependence on the federal trough. So long as the state government fears losing federal funding, lawmakers will always be reluctant to fully interpose against federal tyranny.

As we head into an era of unrestricted warfare by the federal government against those citizens who don’t support the “spirit of the age,” it is more important that red states become independent from the federal government than to cut state taxes. There has been a trend in those states for the past few decades to cut taxes regularly. While it’s a laudable goal to keep taxes low, I’d rather use some of the savings to replace federal dependency than to cut taxes further. Our freedom depends on it.

Overall, the Constitution delegates just 27 powers to the federal government. Yet the federal government now controls every aspect of our lives, and for decades, states have failed to fight back against the creeping usurpations. Even strong federal advocate Alexander Hamilton conceded that the Supremacy Clause would not apply to powers exercised outside the enumerated powers and that the states would regard them as “merely acts of usurpation.” What changed? It’s that our Founders never envisioned the ability of the feds to buy off the states with printed money. Until that spigot is shut off, all state governments will continue to govern like blue states.
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