Rep. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, has prepared a non-binding resolution asking the federal government to enter into negotiations with the state of Idaho to turn all or part of the social services offered by the federal government over to the state. The resolution has not been introduced in committee yet, but Thayn says he is looking at the prospect of pitching the idea this year.
The joint memorial first complains about the federal government's inability to correctly and efficiently administer social service programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare. Thayn cited the work of Peter Orszag, U.S. director of the Office of Management and Budget, who said that Medicare and Medicaid combined paid out $54 billion in improper payments.
The bill's text continues with that argument, saying that if states are allowed to administer the social programs, billions could be saved:
"The simple act of transferring social programs to the respective states from the federal government could save American taxpayers billions and go a long way to solve state and federal budget problems without raising taxes."
In an interview with IdahoReporter.com, Thayn said the bill is a call to bring the federal government back to the principles of federalism, which he believes means limited responsibilities for the federal government and delegated responsibilities for the states and people. He added that he also wants to examine the model of the Chinese, which is shifting the burden of social services to families and community networks.
Would the bill go far if he chose to pitch it in the House this year? Thayn isn't sure. He said he would expect to see a debate of the necessity of the resolution similar to the one held in the House earlier this week over the Idaho Health Freedom Act. Thayn said the memorial is ultimately an argument for the 10th Amendment, an issue which sometimes draws rhetorical fire between party lines. Thayn said he will begin working with other legislators on the resolution write the best memorial possible. He said he as also been in contact with U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, who has responded favorably to the idea. Thayn said he will also consider working with legislators in other states to develop the same resolutions within those other states.
IdahoReporter.com will continue to monitor the Legislature and will report on this legislation should it be adopted in any committees. Thayn will also have a major hearing on an education bill to radically alter the delivery of public education in Idaho. Read our story on that legislation here.