With the signing of the Democrats’ $ 1.9 trillion expansive COVID-19 relief bill, they did something they couldn’t achieve on Election Day: control all 50 state legislatures. Placing these legislatures under the direct control of Congress violates the Supreme Court’s anti-requisition doctrine. But they did it anyway.
For Utah, where Democrats make up a small minority of state lawmakers, we’re now expected to essentially let National Democrats write our tax policy for us. And their priority is not economic growth or the prosperity of Utah. It is a growing government.
COVID-19 aid cannot be used to stimulate the economy. It should be used to develop government. That is the problem. The bill explicitly prohibits states from implementing more competitive tax policies that (coincidentally) move businesses away from high-tax blue states.
Using vague and expansive language, the policy prohibits states from implementing tax cuts until 2024 if they wish to receive any of the COVID-19 reliefs. So not only does this define Utah tax policy for us, it ties our hands for the rest of the Biden administration.
Depending on how the administration chooses to apply the provision, the bill may also have an impact on state-led school choice policies. It could be applied to ban states from running tax credit programs, coincidentally aiding teacher unions that make generous donations to the Democratic campaign coffers.
Some analysts suggest the bill could prevent states from strengthening state-level unemployment insurance trust funds that have been pulled down by job losses induced by a pandemic. What it can do is replenish the operating expenses that states are redirecting to replenish their retirement programs, for the benefit of public sector unions. These hijacked pension bailouts are meant to stifle criticism that direct bailouts would have rightly invoked.
For Utah, the badly named “American bailout” tries to force us to reverse the fiscal policy adopted earlier this year to stimulate our economy. The cost of resisting the Democrats’ ban on tax cuts? $ 100 million in COVID-19 assistance.
For Utah and many other states, this is a direct rejection of local elections and voters.
In this country today, 61 legislative chambers are controlled by Republicans, with only 37 controlled by Democrats (one chamber has shared power). In 38 states, only one party holds the trio of governor and both legislative chambers. Only 15 trifecta states are owned by Democrats compared to 23 owned by Republicans, including Utah.
Yet the Blue State Democrats in Congress now want to use their majority to usurp power from the locally elected legislatures in the Red States. This is important because many of the blue states these Democrats come from have recklessly spent on unfunded pension promises and expansive government programs. It is increasingly difficult for them to compete with the small, low-tax red states that increasingly attract high-income businesses and taxpayers.
The bill has expired in many blue states for decades of unrealistic promises and spending. Now Democrats in Washington are bailing them out under the guise of “COVID relief.” And states with smaller government and lower spending cannot reap the prosperity of these policies. Instead, the bill rewards unnecessary spending and incentivizes more.
The Wall Street Journal called it “a sneak attack on conservative states” and “a blatant affront to constitutional federalism”.
Once we open that door, we may never be able to close it. If a 50-50 split in the Senate and a majority of less than 10 votes in the House can nullify the power of 50 state legislatures, the American people will no longer have a meaningful voice in their own governance.
Chris Stewart represents Utah’s 2nd Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.