To be sure, the rise of the tea party movement has helped fuel a nearly unprecedented situation where 75 percent of US statehouses are under single party control even as Washington seems mired in perpetual partisan gridlock. The widening policy gap between states, too, comes against another backdrop: The decision by the Obama administration, particularly though Obamacare, to use states as proxies to install federal policy.
“This is an administration that doesn’t take the states and locals as it finds them. It has an agenda,” Paul Posner, a federalism expert at George Mason University in Virginia, has said, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Yet while corralling states by dangling federal money may be in part successful, it hasn’t enabled the administration to end run its agenda around Congress.
Gun control is one example. While Washington has so far failed to pass post-Newtown gun control laws, a handful of liberal states in the Northeast have gone ahead with new restrictions, including expanded background checks. But 15 other states have loosened gun restrictions in the wake of the massacre. On Friday, the Kansas Senate passed legislation that would prevent federal agents from confiscating guns made in Kansas.