Federalism and State Taxes

A Wall Street Journal editorial opens with this:

One great benefit of America’s federalist Constitution is policy competition among the states. Voters in Florida don’t have to live under New York’s laws, and Americans and businesses can vote with their feet by moving across state lines.

The editors proceeded to a description of State-level tax laws and the mobility of us Americans and our businesses in leaving States with high taxes in favor of States with, often markedly, lower taxes. But that lede overstates the case.

Federalism applies, often, with State taxes, but State-level business regulations are a different matter. It’s only necessary to see the outsize impact on our auto industry, for instance, or our pork industry, that California’s regulations have on vehicle requirements and on how hogs must be raised to see the lack of federalism in our regulatory environment.

With specific regard to California’s fuel requirements, there’s this from the Federal government’s EPA:

The Clean Air Act allows California to seek a waiver of the preemption which prohibits states from enacting emission standards for new motor vehicles.

The Federal government has long granted that waiver, and during the Biden administration, the feds made their latest move—overtly to refuse to rescind the waiver, effectively nationalizing a State regulation at the expense of federalism.

On the California’s hog-raising regulation, the Supreme Court upheld that regulation, which mandated the minimum space in which hogs must be raised, anywhere in the United States, in order for them to be marketable in California. The Court nationalized this State-level regulation—again at the expense of federalism.

If we’re going to preserve our federalist structure of governance, federalism must be restored to State regulations, as well as State-level taxes. Don’t look for any of that to happen under any Progressive-Democratic Party-dominated Federal government, though.

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