The Sequester’s Impact On The States Is An Argument For Federalism


The fear mongering over what are, really, rather small reductions in federal spending as a result of the spending sequester have been entertaining. The histrionics from proponents of ever more expansive government budgets betray, I think, their fear that we might reduce spending without any major hiccups in our day-to-day lives.

If you want people to believe that government is central to their lives, you want them to feel pain if the size of government is reduced. If government is reduced, and they don’t feel pain, your argument is decimated. Thus hyperbole and exaggeration about the dire consequences of the sequester from our friends on the left.

Here in North Dakota, the total impact of the sequester spending reductions will be about $33.4 million, the bulk of which is reduction in funding for the state’s military bases and a furlough for civilian defense department officials in the state.

That’s really not much of an impact, but let’s pretend that the sequester spending reductions for North Dakota and other state are as drastic and hurtful as some claim them to be. Isn’t that sort of an argument for federalism?

For decades the federal government has been bribing the states into giving up their sovereignty in exchange for federal tax dollars. In everything from transportation policy to human services policy, federal spending is embedded in state budgets. So when the federal government has financial problems, the states are put at risk.

Isn’t that an excellent argument for de-coupling state budgets, as much as possible, from federal spending? Shouldn’t this sequester “crisis”, even though it’s a bit of a put-on, be a warning for the problems that could arise should we ever (hopefully) get a serious federal austerity program in place?

Earlier this week the North Dakota House passed HCR3038, introduced by Rep. Rick Becker, which initiates a study into the regulatory burdens put on North Dakota through the acceptance of federal funds. That’s a prescient bit of legislation given what’s going on nationally with the sequester.

Our state leaders should be actively looking for ways to make the State of North Dakota more independent of federal spending and federal policy. That’s the sort of governance our founders intended when they created this federalist republic.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • WOOF

    Not small to the 800,000 DOD civilian personal who will take a 20% cut in pay and the communities they support.

    • Onslaught1066

      Name them.

      • Guest

        Nothought1066, can you name the sh*thead who thinks the physical location of a Senator’s office is an “opinion piece”?

        • Onslaught1066

          Well, hello there lil gusty.

          Say, are you lost, I understand how confusing it can be for a wee bairn when you find yourself meandering through the world of adults.

          I’m sure if you find a nice policeman, he can get you back home to your mommy.

          There, there, it’s OK, you can stop crying now.

          Would you like an ice cream cone?

          • Guest

            How unsurprising that Nothought1066 couldn’t give a name, even he cannot comprehend his profound stupidity.

            Oh, Nothought1066, you’re such a sh*thead!

          • Onslaught1066

            Hey there lil feller, you still lost?

            I’ll bet you mommy’s just worried sick about you.

            Better run along home now, OK?

          • two_amber_lamps

            You might wanna take that tube away from Gusty… he looks a little intoxicated. You know he sniffs only the FINEST 3M adhesive products.

          • two_amber_lamps

            Oh look! The creature which impersonates 5 year old girls on MN area hockey blogs is attempting to be “profound!”

      • SigFan

        Maybe he can explain how a 1-2% reduction in the rate of spending growth – still spending more than last year – translates into a 20% pay cut. Must be some of that new math stuff.

        • guest

          Uh, not every entity is being cut equally. I’d say do some research before you write something, but I understand this isn’t exactly a fact-based community.

          • Onslaught1066

            Sez the king of no facts to back up yer crap.

    • Thresherman

      Why is it suddenly the left who is fretting about reductions in military spending after decades of demanding it? Probably because they know that they are the ones responsible for it and are trying to shift the blame. But now Woodward has shown that the Democrats own this and they positively hate being held responsible for their acts.

      • WOOF

        There is sequester cause the right would preform late term abortions sipping caramel lattes on the floor of the House before taxing a Billionaire/Corportion.

        • jl

          Jee, they’re not taxed? News to me.

    • Waski_the_Squirrel

      Why should any part of government, including military, be immune from cuts. In the personal, it will hurt each person cut. In the long run, everyone is better off because our current level of spending is unsustainable. Cuts now will prevent even more painful cuts in the future.

      And the sequester will be a great trial run.

  • camsaure

    I bet not one penny of that 33.4 million dollars will come out of funding for drones surveiling us.

  • chris

    The problem is not reducing spending, it’s reducing spending on the wrong things. The sequester is like a blind man with a hatchet. It’ll mean longer lines at the airports, fewer tower controls for airplanes, fewer border patrol agents, less funding for FEMA, fewer kids in daycare,etc.

    • SigFan

      Maybe Obama should have thought about that before he proposed it and signed it into law? And none of the “sky is falling” stories are going to happen anyway. Obama and others around him are already starting to walk back their fear mongering rhetoric. Sucks when you stick your own foot in the trap you set for someone else – and that’s exactly what Obama and the Democrats have done.

      • chris

        Did Obama propose the sequester? Actually, no, it was proposed by the bipartisan super-committee in 2011. It was meant to be so severe as to force both parties to compromise on something. It was never meant to actually go in effect.

        Will the sky fall? No, but people will feel the burn nevertheless, undeservedly. Is it all Obama’s fault? No, the republicans are also partly to blame. Obama is but one voice and has but one vote; it takes the whole legislative branch to fail at negotiations.

        • SigFan


          “Yes, the president proposed sequestration and signed the Budget Control Act in 2011 with the expressed hope that the so-called Super Committee would prevent the sequester with a commensurate deficit reduction package. That offsetting
          package, he argued, should include a mix of spending cuts and increased revenues. The Super Committee convened, negotiated, and failed. The group’s Republican members offered a $1.2 trillion plan that reportedly included $500 billion in revenues over ten years. Democrats walked away, demanding $1 trillion in tax hikes, and offering no formal counterproposal. So the GOP tried to reach a productive agreement that aligned on some level with the president’s demand for “balance.” Democrats rebuffed their good-faith attempt, and the Super Committee failed. Now that
          sequestration is upon us, the president is again trying to forestall or replace his own mechanism — an act that he once threatened
          to veto. The mechanism that he created and insisted upon is comprised of 100 percent cuts. That’s what the law says. He signed it. By law, the consequence of the Super Committee’s failure is the implementation of his all-cuts sequester. Trying to redefine the sequester at the very last minute is the very definition of moving the goal post.”

          You are entitled to your own opinion – not your own facts.

  • Federalist

    Rob, you keep saying the states are sovereign. Where in the Constitution does it say that?

    • Thomas

      He is a forgotten passage from the Constition.

      United States Consstitution, Amendment X

      The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

      It is interesting to note that all powers are given to the States, unless the Constitution states they are given to the Federal Government or the States are prohibited from using some power (Printing money or taxing interstate trade).

      Today we have agreed with the Lie that all power rests soley with the Federal Government.

      • Federalist

        So the Air Force andFBI are unconstitutional then?

        • Anh-Minh Nguyen

          The FBI is as a standing internal police force is unconstitutional and unwise. There is no Federal Laws that can’t be enforce by local law enforcement unless the Federal made laws so unfair and unconstitutional that legal laws enforce would not enforce them. The Air Force is constitution because the Constitution granted congress the power to maintain an Amy and Navy. We can call the Air Force by it’s old name Army Air Force. What difference did it made?

  • chris

    How can Republicans complain that Obama hasn’t proposed any cuts, and then claim the Sequester was his idea? How does GOP’s “NO Compromise” ideology absolve them of blame for something they want so badly?? Someone smarter than me has called it the “Republican’s Sequester Paradox”.

    • Onslaught1066

      Bucking for a cabinet position, are we?


  • awfulorv

    And somewhere children shout…
    But there is no joy in Inglewood,
    Only ridicule, and doubt,
    For the Raggedy Ann doll of the house,
    Maxine Waters…
    And her one seventy million job losses,
    Has fallen, once again,
    on her snout…