Muftic: Not all states’ rights are created equal |

Muftic: Not all states’ rights are created equal

Felicia Muftic / My View
Grand County, CO Colorado

It’s dejà vu time.

When I was a young lass in the 1950s in segregated Oklahoma, I was old enough to be aware of political debates of the era. On the tip of everyone’s tongue was state’s rights. It was used as a rallying cry to fight any federal action, judicial or legislative, to maintain segregation.

Now I am hearing it again as a battle cry that anything not specifically enumerated in the Constitution is reserved for the individual States and the people. Only this time, it is used as an argument against any federal supremacy over immigration statutes, big government, Obamacare, and just about anything big which a segment of our population opposes.

I do not like big government for the sake of big government, but states rights and small government are not always my cup of tea, either. I do believe there is a role for the federal government when there are problems that cross state lines that need a uniform fixing. States should not hamper the federal government’s ability to enforce their laws for which they are empowered, including interstate commerce or violations of the civil rights.

Many of these issues have been subject to previous Supreme Court rulings clarifying the conflicts between states’ rights and federal government supremacy. Quoting the 10th Amendment might express a wish, but it ignores years of case law.

It was on that first point, interference with the federal governments’ ability to enforce their own laws, that the Arizona immigration law was emasculated by the judge. Like other state’s rights issues in the past, the conflict will be settled by the Supreme Court, not by armchair lawyers or sign-waiving advocates for either side.

What does puzzle me is that those same folks advocating on behalf of limited and small government criticize the recently passed Wall Street reform and health care legislation for not reining in the fat cats and still serving corporate interests. They must be confused. Do they think the role of government should also be to keep these corporations from growing even fatter? That is not a small government approach, to say the least.

Progressives, too, share with teapartyers a dislike of fat cats and corporate interests, but the agreement stops there. The left sees the federal government as the only agent capable of reining them in. While controversial, there is no confusion about government roles there.

The beauty of the Obama versions of health care and Wall Street reforms is that they balance maintaining capitalism and private sector roles while protecting us. Employers continue their fundamental health insurance provider role. Wall Street remains the engine that drives the economy. At the same time, both laws contain protections to consumers from predatory and hocus pocus lending practices or unfair denial of health care coverage and limited ability to afford it. Some think families can make better decisions for themselves without government action, but without these consumer protections and affordability, a family’s ability to make good decisions would have continued to be nearly impossible.

Wall Street Reform actually makes capitalism work better by requiring disclosure of risks to investors once obscured in exotic and little understood kinds of investments. It will not prevent bank failures, but it provides a method to keep a big bank failure from bringing down the entire financial sector that made the taxpayer bailouts a necessity. It limits banks’ ability to gamble in the market with their own assets.

Reform preserves the ability of big banks to compete internationally with big foreign banks. Breaking them up or limiting their size would have crippled them.

Health Care Reform did not replace private sector insurers with a government owned single payer or public option provider. It does establish consumer protection rules and it limits the practice of rewarding insurance companies and their stockholders for paying out the fewest claims possible relative to their premiums collected. These are all advantages for us that only the federal government could provide.

– For comments on Colorado Senate race go to For comments on this column, go to

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.