Things took a very ugly turn on Monday afternoon and Tuesday between Trump and several Democrat governors, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
President Trump wants to get the economy rolling again, although the plan to do so is still in development.
During Monday’s press conference, Trump claimed to have “total” authority over states to decide when states can open again, which is when all the fun got started.
Re-Opening the Economy
Before we get into the particulars of where the power lies, let’s talk about the actual re-opening of the country.
This has to happen and it probably has to happen soon for a good part of this country.
If you look at the numbers, there are almost three dozen states where you can make an argument that the COVID-19 virus has had little impact.
By no means should people be acting without caution, but if these numbers hold through the end of this month, we simply cannot hold these states hostage over the problems of about a dozen states, mostly with New York and New Jersey.
While the stimulus has helped, it really has done very little to replace the money small business owners make from their own business, which is usually what they live off.
Yes, they can pay their staff, mortgage/rent, and utilities, but that is all. For many small business owners, the time is coming very soon where they will have to decide to shutter their doors forever if they cannot reopen.
If these business owners are in a state like Arkansas that has less than 1,500 confirmed cases and only 30 deaths, how do you possibly justify telling them to stay closed?
When Trump stated that he has total authority over states on this front, he is just wrong.
First and foremost, there is the 10th Amendment.
Secondly, while there are some extended powers to the federal government through the Stafford Act, it still does not give the federal government absolute power unless the state government has been totally decimated and cannot function on its own.
The declaration of emergency for all 50 states was more than likely made based on a very loose interpretation of the Stafford Act but there simply is no way Trump’s claim would hold up if tested.
Battling Over States’ Rights
Trump sent out two very concerning tweets over the last 24 hours
Cuomo’s been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc. I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2020
Tell the Democrat Governors that “Mutiny On The Bounty” was one of my all time favorite movies. A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain. Too easy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2020
Now, if you want to keep constitutional conservatives behind you, the last thing you should be doing is threatening states’ independence.
Trump’s claim of mutiny is more than likely in response to several governors working with Cuomo to open their states back up as well as Cuomo saying if Trump gave the order to open New York before Cuomo believed the state was ready, he would defy that order.
The die-hard Trump supporters will not like this, but Cuomo has every right to do that.
The federal government can supply guidance and recommendations, but Trump does not have the authority to command Cuomo or any other governor to open their respective economies before they deem their state ready to do so.
However, there could be stipulations made on receiving aid, which could more or less serve as a motivator to open or keep a state closed.
But again, we are getting into constitutional issues and stipulations that would have to be agreed upon by Congress.
If Trump continues to press this issue, he is going to lose and he is going to lose big. Senator Rand Paul has already made comments on Twitter about it and constitutional conservatives all have their ears perked up right now to see where this is going to lead.
The constitution doesn’t allow the federal gov’t to become the ultimate regulator of our lives because they wave a doctor’s note. Powers not delegated are RESERVED to states & the PEOPLE. If we dispense with constitutional restraints, we will have more to worry about than a virus
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 14, 2020
Trump’s best approach at this point is to say he will work with every governor in every state to help them determine the best time to re-open their respective economies to ensure it is done safely.
Whether people like it or not, that is about as far as his power goes on this issue right now.
If anyone doubts that, I highly encourage you to pour over the Constitution and the Stafford Act to prove me wrong.
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