U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has called for Congress to strip the City of Berkeley, Calif., of federal funds because he does not agree with a slight to the Marine Corp. The Berkeley City Council voted this week to tell the U.S. Marine Corps to move its recruiting station outside the city’s downtown. What is astonishing is that DeMint has long defended federalism (as I do). There is no greater nightmare for states rights than the federal government taking in more taxes than it needs — only to give the money back to the states with strings attached. Thus, under this approach, states and cities will be denied money unless they conform their political judgments to the will of the Senate. It is a good thing that George Mason is safely six-feet under ground.
This dust up occurred this week after the council vote. DeMint responded by saying “This is a slap in the face to all brave service men and women and their families.” That part seem entirely correct. He then added “The First Amendment gives the City of Berkeley the right to be idiotic, but from now on they should do it with their own money.” He blew it on the second half of the second statement. It is in fact their money and the rest of the states. Congress routinely takes in more money than it needed to force states and cities to conform to its wishes. Now, Congress is manipulating even symbolic measures.
Here is what he would like to cut:
— $975,000 for the University of California at Berkeley, for the Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service, which may include establishing an endowment, and for cataloguing the papers of Congressman Robert Matsui.
— $750,000 for the Berkeley/Albana ferry service.
— $243,000 for the Chez Panisse Foundation, for a school lunch initiative to integrate lessons about wellness, sustainability and nutrition into the academic curriculum.
— $94,000 for a Berkeley public safety interoperability program.
— $87,000 for the Berkeley Unified School District, nutrition education program.
Ironically, the council cannot force the Marines to move and there is no plans for the Marines to do so. What remains is a symbolic fight over a city council resolution in California that a South Carolina Senator does not like. And then of course there is the increasingly small concern over federalism. For a prior column on the lack of support for federalism, click here and here and here and here
Click here for the latest story on the DeMint/Berkeley controversy.