“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.
And states are making broader arguments about how state policy can impact regional economies. While critics say Mr. Brownback, for example, has put the state’s economy in jeopardy by spearheading the abolishing of a state income tax, the Governor, in giving the GOP weekly address on Saturday, touted “red state” models as creating economic activity while Washington seems bent on stifling economic growth.
"The ideas on how to fix the federal government are now percolating in the states, 30 of which are led by Republican governors," he says. “You see, you don’t change America by changing Washington – you change America by changing the states. And that’s exactly what Republican governors are doing across the country – taking a different approach to grow their states’ economies and fix their governments with ideas that work."
So far, empowered states may be winning the policy struggle with Washington, some experts suggest.