For someone who used to refer to himself as a “constitutional law professor,” the president seems to have trouble remembering the provisions contained within that document.
The 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution defines the principles of federalism and provides that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The only powers the federal government has are those specifically enumerated in Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution. According to the 10th Amendment all other powers are reserved for individuals and the states.
On Monday, the president arrived in Michigan and excoriated that state’s government for having the effrontery to follow Indiana’s lead in passing right-to-work legislation. Indiana was the first state in the Rust Belt to do so. Michigan is now the 24th right-to-work state in the union.
President Obama made an appearance at the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant, just outside of Detroit, to campaign for his take-it-or-leave-it “fiscal cliff” proposal. He advised the plant employees that if Congress refused to act, their taxes would increase by $2,200.
Then he took a pot shot at Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who will be signing the right-to-work bill into law on Tuesday. Snyder had greeted the president earlier that day.
“What we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages,” Obama told a small crowd. “We don’t want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top.”
He went on to claim that Michigan’s new law was more a political move than it was an economic one to the enthusiastic gathering of union members.
The White House didn’t interfere in 2011 when Wisconsin severely limited the collective bargaining power of state employees. The president signaled in Monday’s plant appearance, however, that his administration would be more active in such matters in the future.
Whether states want to declare themselves as right-to-work jurisdictions is wholly outside the president’s control. His time would be better spent doing his job which, at this juncture, would be negotiating with Congress over the looming fiscal cliff.