Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett Champions Federalism

           From Medicaid expansion to Common Core, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, has been resisting coercion from the Obama Administration and defending the constitutional principal of federalism, as envisioned by the Framers. 

            Corbett had participated in the successful lawsuit that declared part of the federalization of health insurance (“Obamacare”) unconstitutional because it coerced states into expanding Medicaid.  The decision allowed States to opt out of the expansion of the program.  Medicaid is a costly welfare program that provides free healthcare for the poor that is riddled with problems, which cause many doctors to decline to participate in it.  Although Obamacare lured States with upfront federal money to expand the program, the federal government would not have covered all of the costs of Medicaid expansion in later years, which would cost States billions of dollars, while expanding welfare and increasing dependency. 

            Corbett proposed an alternative, state-created market-based plan for Pennsylvania, which would allow participants to purchase subsidized private insurance.  The benefits will be means-tested, as co-payments increase with income levels, while there will be voluntary incentives to work and choose healthy lifestyles.  The Corbett plan would save the Commonwealth billions of dollars over a period of a few years.  The federal government recently approved Corbett’s plan.

Common Core is the name of educational standards developed by the liberal Gates Foundation, promoted by the National Governors Association.  As I have been posting, many concerns about the quality of the standards and the content of the curriculum and materials based upon it have been raised.  Common Core’s proponents claim the standards would make American students competitive with those of foreign industrialized countries, but the standards are inadequate and even would represent a regression in certain respects.  The standards are promoted as designed to prepare students for college, but they reflect the big business interests of its developers by preparing students only for community college, not competitive four-year colleges, as the standards de-emphasize literature, calculus, critical thinking and liberal arts in favor of bland analysis of informational texts and unproven teaching methods for mathematics, for example.  There are also concerns about liberal bias in the educational materials that are based upon Common Core standards.  Despite the claims of its proponents that Common Core is a set of standards, not a curriculum, all high-stakes tests, including college entrance tests, textbooks and curricula would be based upon them, even for non-public school students. 

The Obama Administration attempted to impose Common Core federally as an educational standard across the Union by bribing the States into accepting Common Core standards – before they were written – as a precondition for receiving economic stimulus money in 2009.  Remember, federal tax dollars are levied on the citizens of the States, so any federal funding given to the States is simply an indirect return of the people’s own money.  A few States declined to accept the coercion, and, as the standards have been developed, more and more States have changed their minds and opted out of Common Core, recognizing it as a federally-imposed curriculum that violates federalism and local control of education, in addition to the concerns about the quality of the standards and other related issues.

            As with Medicaid expansion, Corbett approved a Pennsylvania version of Common Core that addressed some of the public’s and legislature’s concerns about high-stakes testing, mandated reading lists, and violations of student privacy for business interests, but as the federal coercion of a federal curriculum has become more clear, he has recently asked the state Board of Education to repeal Common Core altogether and replace it with state-based adequate standards that would truly make Pennsylvania’s students more competitive than they currently are. 

           Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s leadership is allowing the Commonwealth to adopt policies that best suit the needs of its citizens, while affirming state sovereignty and serving as a model for other States.

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