Do you think Texas is spending too much suing President Barack Obama? Think again.
It comes as no surprise that big-government advocates criticize the two dozen lawsuits Texas has filed against the Obama administration during the past four years. Some people actually prefer bigger and more government as a solution to everyday problems. Our lawsuits threaten that model by enforcing the Constitution to limit a federal government that is expanding too far and reaching too deep into our lives — and our pockets.
The only surprise is the line of attack chosen by the critics. They claim that our lawsuits — challenging Obamacare, fighting illegal overreaching by the EPA and defending laws passed by the state of Texas — have cost $2.5 million and are a waste of taxpayer money.
The critics sidestep the obvious: As attorney general, it is my duty to represent the state in court whenever its laws or sovereignty are challenged. My office is fulfilling that duty in all of these legal actions.
But, more to the point, legal action by my office has benefited the bottom line for Texas taxpayers. Consider just two of the actions we’ve filed against the Obama administration. Part of the lawsuit filed by Texas against Obamacare challenged Congress’ authority to force Texas to spend even more money on government-run health care. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed that Congress violated the Constitution and ruled that Texas doesn’t have to spend the money required by Obamacare. According to state health officials, the savings to taxpayers from that one ruling alone could amount to over $10 billion during the next decade.
Similarly, one of our recent victories against the Obama administration did more than just stop the EPA from violating the law. It also saved more than 500 jobs and protected Texans’ access to reliable electricity — which was jeopardized by the EPA’s draconian regulations.
These savings are on top of our ongoing efforts to help Texas taxpayers. During the same four-year period, our office has recovered an additional $750 million through our other legal actions and collected more than $12 billion in child support.
Critics may agree or disagree with our legal actions, but they can’t say they haven’t been a bargain for taxpayers. Saving billions of dollars and hundreds of jobs is exactly the kind of return on investment taxpayers deserve. It is far better than the $5 trillion that has been heaped on the federal debt by Washington during the past four years.
More important, when Texas challenges the federal government, it’s about more than money. It’s about principles — fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitution and recently reaffirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court when it said:
“The national government possesses only limited powers; the states and the people retain the remainder.”
“The independent power of the states serves as a check on the power of the federal government.”
Defending the constitutional principles that have made the United States truly exceptional: That’s priceless.
This column first appeared in the Dallas Morning News on September 26, 2012.