How some states helped blunt the shutdown pain

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Karen Lugo
Director, Center for Tenth Amendment Action, TPPF
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      Karen Lugo

      Karen Lugo is the Director of the Center for Tenth Amendment Action at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. She joined the Foundation in September 2013.

      As Co-Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence Center in California, Lugo has submitted circuit-level and Supreme Court amicus briefs on such issues as Structural Separation of Powers; Federalism, Commerce Clause, and Police Powers; FISA Surveillance; Healthcare Reform; Arizona’s Border Security; Gay Marriage; The Ten Commandments and Public Prayer; Eminent Domain and Property Rights; Christian Clubs on University Campuses; and Material Support for Terrorists. She was a clinical visiting and adjunct professor at Chapman University School of Law where she co-taught the advanced Constitutional Law Clinic. Lugo recently taught a 2013 Human Rights law course on the contrast between French and English Enlightenment theory in Strasbourg, France.

      Lugo is the founder of the Libertas-West Project, a center for study Islamic integration and radicalization issues. In this capacity, she writes and speaks for European and American groups on the importance of basing assimilation efforts on principles of Western exceptionalism. She presented a policy brief to the French Conseil d’Etat analyzing the legal implications of banning the burqa. Lugo has written one of the most comprehensive overviews sharia law in American courts for the Federalist Society’s journal, Engage, titled: American Family Law and Sharia-Compliant Marriages. She is currently publishing a handbook through the Center for Security Policy on mosque building permits and the Religious Land and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and she presented a white paper on the American Law for American Courts legislative initiative and its compatibility with international adoption law.

      Lugo was an appointee to the California Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She was president of the Orange County, California, Federalist Society lawyer chapter for seven years and currently serves on the Federalist Society National Security and International Law Executive Committee. Lugo is a member of the David Horowitz Freedom Center Board of Directors. She is also on the board of advisors for Trinity Law School in California. Lugo has been a regular guest on theOrange County PBSlocal issues debate program, Inside OC, and she is a frequent contributor to Pajamas Media, National Review Online, Townhall.com, American Thinker, and Family Security Matters. She has been interviewed by dozens of radio hosts and has spoken for hundreds of civic groups on constitutional and cultural concerns.

The recently concluded sixteen-day shutdown of the federal government, combined with the disastrous Obamacare rollout, have exposed some truths about governance in our country.

The bottom line: Washington, D.C. doesn’t work — but the states do.

The archetype of D.C.’s inability to deliver is the chronic Obamacare website message that says “The system is down at the moment.” Weeks into the much-anticipated rollout, the website that cost $634 million and took three years to build cannot respond to even basic inquiries.

Contrast that with the resourcefulness of the states that responded to the federal shutdown with solutions rather than gridlock. Several of the states followed the lead of Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin and re-opened national parks with their own resources. Utah, South Dakota, New York, and Arizona stepped up to pay the operating expenses of sites or entire parks so that iconic monuments like the Statue of Liberty and national treasures like Grand Canyon and Zion would remain open to the people.

In fact, Utah — where the federal government owns about 70 percent of the land — is now crunching numbers to see if a bid to take over some permanent management responsibilities of parks and resources makes sense.

The states that safeguard their constitutionally defined responsibilities from entanglement with federal strings will stand in increasing contrast to those that fall into the D.C. honey trap. These states will serve as models of sobriety and vibrancy for Americans seeking safe harbors where they can best innovate, produce, and prosper.

The record of Indiana’s government employee Health Savings Account (HSA) plans is an impressive case in point. In contrast to the expansive entitlement of Obamacare, Governor Mitch Daniels reports great satisfaction with Indiana’s state employee medical Health Savings Account Plan (HSA). The state saved more than $20 million in 2010 and most employees had money left in their accounts at the end of the year. The program incentivizes informed decision-making and demonstrates that employees will responsibly research options when the result is about $2,000 in annual savings. Employee satisfaction with the plan has proven to be high with only 3 percent opting to switch back to a preferred provider option (PPO). By 2012, more than 90 percent of state workers had signed up for HSAs.

For thriving job markets, it does not get better than the Texas business climate. Texas is credited with creating half of the new jobs since the end of the recession and just added another 22,330 private sector jobs in September. The Lone Star state continued to create more jobs than any other for the twelve-month period through August. Keeping taxes low and regulation in balance with development interests has provided a climate in which entrepreneurialism and opportunity thrive.

States that are harvesting energy resources are celebrating exciting job growth with Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Texas leading the way. Pennsylvania alone has experienced a 40 percent surge in oil and gas jobs in the last six years. Overall, energy-linked positions have added 2.1 million jobs to the economy and aided consumers by lowering average household expenses to the tune of $1,200 per year.