This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
CFIF on Twitter CFIF on YouTube
Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

Liberty Update

CFIFs latest news, commentary and alerts delivered to your inbox.
Jester's CourtroomLegal tales stranger than stranger than fiction: Ridiculous and sometimes funny lawsuits plaguing our courts.
Texas Enters Fight to Repeal ObamaCare Print
By Ashton Ellis
Wednesday, January 26 2011
If passed, HB 203 would create a legal barrier for implementing ObamaCare, shielding Texas from the law’s spending mandates.

In the opening days of the 2011 legislative session, Texas State Representative Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) is serving notice that ObamaCare and its mandates most definitely mess with Texas. 

From time to time, Texas’ commitment to limited government turns freedom into a straightjacket.  Because the state tries to cap the amount of damage done by government, its legislature meets only every other year for 140 days. 

Usually, this is the greatest of public goods.  But one of the consequences of such limited lawmaking is to delay legislative responses to the always-working, always-regulating federal government.  Since ObamaCare was passed and implemented in 2010, a year when the Texas legislature was out of session, fiscal conservatives like Bryan Hughes had to wait until this January to defend their state’s sovereignty. 

With his House Bill 203, Hughes is offering fellow Texas legislators a quick way to make up for lost time.  The bill is the Texas version of model legislation designed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a national organization of state legislators favoring federalism and conservative policy solutions.  If passed, HB 203 would create a legal barrier for implementing ObamaCare, shielding Texas from the law’s spending mandates. 

A fiscal conservative, Hughes brings unique expertise to health care reform.  As a member of the Texas House of Representatives, Hughes has served on the Human Services Committee with jurisdiction over the state’s health care apparatus.  He recently spent the time between sessions as the co-chair of an oversight committee responsible for modernizing Texas’ welfare system. 

According to Hughes, ObamaCare threatens state sovereignty on three levels.  Constitutionally, the bill’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance turns the Commerce Clause into a club.  “This law gives the federal government the ultimate ability to pick winners and losers, with the losers being everyone who is forced to purchase health insurance,” warns Hughes.  

ObamaCare also degrades federalism.  “State governments are laboratories,” says Hughes, “places where different policies can be tried out.  It’s important that states be allowed to learn from the mistakes of others.  If Massachusetts experiments with state-run health care, Texas should be allowed to choose whether or not to follow suit.  About 1,200 people a day move into Texas from other states because this is where the opportunities are.  If you federalize health care, you nationalize failure.” 

Most immediately for policymakers like Hughes, ObamaCare’s mandated enrollment increases will explode Texas’ Medicaid spending.  Hughes notes that Medicaid already consumes 26% of the state’s budget.  Included within that total are payments covering half of all births in Texas and two-thirds of all nursing home care.  A Kaiser Family Foundation study estimated a 45.5% increase in Texas Medicaid enrollment by 2019 if ObamaCare is implemented fully.  The results would be further budget inflexibility with rises in mandatory spending. 

Hughes thinks there is a more cost-effective way to expand health care coverage.  In essence, if the purpose of “comprehensive health care reform” is to increase access to health care at a sustainable level of spending, there are plenty of free market alternatives.  In his view, states like Texas should be allowed to experiment with state and local level health care exchanges, and greater use of technology to reduce costs.  On the federal level, policymakers should replace the current state waiver request process and allow Medicaid enrollees to use health savings accounts directly as a way to incentivize responsible spending. 

If congressional Republicans are to cut spending successfully, they will need partners like Bryan Hughes and others to refuse federal entitlements that mandate spending at state levels.  With HB 203 and a Republican-controlled state legislature, Texas is now the largest state likely to pass an explicit rebuke to ObamaCare.  If it does so, the Lone Star State will regain its reputation as a leader on state sovereignty issues, and take a crucial first step in restoring budget sanity at all levels of government. 

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following individuals laid the ‘Golden Spike’ joining the Eastern and Western U.S. railroad lines to create the Transcontinental Railway?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"President Trump's recent executive order laying out his 'America-First Healthcare Plan' makes clear his continued commitment to the long-standing, bipartisan consensus that we should protect people with preexisting conditions. Unfortunately, the previous administration's attempt to make good on that consensus -- Obamacare -- has failed to deliver on its promises.Contrary to the prevailing media narrative…[more]
 
 
—Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator
— Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator
 
Liberty Poll   

Do you believe you will be better off over the next four years with Joe Biden as president or with Donald Trump as president?