By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was in Birmingham Saturday to address the Alabama Eagle Forum discussing the Obama administration’s expansion of federal authority at the cost of what were once powers delegated to the states.
Secretary of State Kobach said, “We are in another period of change.” Kobach said that during the 1930s the federal government grew its powers at the expense of the states but did not directly challenge state governments. The Obama administration is also growing the federal government, but this time the “The federal government is turning its guns on the state.” Kobach pointed to four areas where he said that President Obama’s expansion of federal authority has infringed on the authority of state governments. These four areas are: Obamacare, the environment, election laws, and immigration.
Kobach said, “The states have governed health insurance for as long as there has been insurance.” Kobach said that Obamacare would transform state insurance commissioners into administrators for the federal government. Kobach said the rules regulating the state healthcare exchange are entirely covered by federal law.
Kobach said that after the Roberts decision upholding the President’s controversial new healthcare law only congressional action with a new President can stop it. Kobach said that the Roberts decision was a huge disappointment and doesn’t make sense. The Roberts decision said that the federal government can’t make you purchase health insurance but can fine you if you don’t. Kobach said that is not a federal power in the Constitution.
On the unprecedented expansion of federal government regulatory authority, Kobach said, “By and large state are begging to use our natural resources.” Kobach said that the federal government is hindering the coal, natural gas, and oil industries. Kobach said that higher energy costs hurts poorest Americans the most. “Obama declared war on coal.”
Kobach said that the EPA has blocked construction of a new coal fired power plant in his native Kansas, even though even the Democratic Governor had favored it. Kobach said the state of West Virginia wants to build a coal to gasoline refinery to make gas out of coal in Mingo County, West Virginia. The plant would mean 3000 construction jobs and a permanent employment for 300. “Obama administration and the EPA won’t let it happen.”
Sec. Kobach also pointed to Obama’s opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline which would have brought Canadian Oil to America. Even though all the governors of the states it would pass through have approved it, still Obama blocks construction. Kobach said that Obama doesn’t care about the economic consequences: all he is concerned with is implementing the radical left’s environmental agenda.
Kobach said that the Obama EPA’s new rules for CO2 emissions will raise the cost of generating electricity by $375 million a year.
The third area is illegal immigration. Kobach quoted Milton Friedman, “You can’t have open immigration and a welfare state.” People are coming in to the US for the welfare state…..food stamps, unearned tax credits, Medicaid, etc. Kobach said the fiscal cost of illegal immigration is undeniable. Illegal immigrants costs taxpayers an estimated $100 billion a year net after taking out all the taxes that they do pay. Kobach said, $11 billion of that is paid for by the federal government, but $89 billion of that burden is paid for by state and local governments.
Kobach said, “When I use the term illegal alien I am not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings. That term is found in federal law. Arizona passed a series of anti-illegal immigration laws beginning with Proposition 200 in 2006. Kobach said, “Alabama in 2010 finally had a legislature willing to do something about the illegal influx in Alabama.” “I helped Hammon and Beason draft the law.” “It went well beyond what Arizona has done. HB56 does everything those Arizona laws did and has another 11 extra provisions.” Kobach said that state anti-illegal immigration bills were very effective. In Arizona illegal aliens started leaving the state. Between 2008 and 2011 1% of illegal immigrants left the United States, however during the sames period 36% of the illegal immigrants in Arizona left. “Alabama has had some amazing results.” The state’s unemployment was 9.3% when HB 56 was signed into law and had dropped 2 full percentage points in the next nine months.” “Obama talks so much about job creation, if he was serious about creating jobs for American citizens deport an illegal alien.”
The Obama administration has actively fought against the state anti-illegal immigration laws. Obama ended work place checks that the Bush administration were doing and now simply does I-9 audits and sends a fine to the employer if they find any illegal aliens on the payroll. “That fine is a cost of doing business.” He also effectively shut down the 287G program where states assisted the federal government in identifying illegal aliens.
Kobach said that the Obama administration sued states over anti-illegal immigration laws. His Department of Justice sued Alabama, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah. “In previous DOJs you only sue a state when the state is blatantly violating federal law.” Kobach said that when he wrote HB56 he expected the ACLU to sue; but did not expect that the Obama administration would use U.S. attorneys to sue the states that are trying to enforce the law. Kobach called this “Extraordinary.” The Justice Department has become a branch office of the ACLU under Obama. Kobach said that this constitutes an assuault on state power.
The fourth area of concern is election laws. Historically the states run their own elections. Some states have passed laws requiring photo I.D. To vote. Kobach said if you want to have secure elections you need photo id. “A photo ID is necessary to board a plane, buy a gun, cash a check, or enter a federal courthouse building. Why not voting?” Kansas requires both photo ID to vote and has a law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. Obama has used the Department of Justice to keep states from implementing their photo ID laws. “The Far Left claims it hurts non-white voters,” but Georgia passed a photo ID law and Black participation is way up up not down. Kansas had fewer than 200 voters show up without photo ID and most of those had a driver’s license and forgot it or were making a political statement. Out of 2.8 million people only 40 have signed up to get the free photo ID.
Kobach said that liberals claim that photo ID is a Republican scheme to suppress the vote, but it doesn’t suppress the vote. It is actually an American project to help protect elections. The Obama administration has made the decision not to pre-clear Texas and Alabama’s photo ID laws using the Voting Rights Act of 1965. South Carolina AG is questioning this. Kobach said, “No justice department should abuse that preclearance authority.” The Obama administration’s argument is that skin color affects your ability to get a driver’s license or a free ID. Kobach predicted that the DOJ will lose in court but not before the November election. Running elections is a clear area of constitutional authority of the states, but again the Obama administration takes the unprecedented action of suing state governments to bend them to his will.
Kobach said we must win in the November election. “We can not lose this battle.” As much power as Obama has amassed in one term, what will he do when he is not limited by the need to be reelected?