Obama Would Be First State Legislator in White House in 28 Years
By Barbara Rosewicz, Stateline.org Managing Editor,
Would Barack Obama be a bigger supporter of states' rights than President Bush has been? Obama's background gives state officials hope. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Obama would be the first former state legislator to occupy the White House since President Jimmy Carter, elected to one term in 1976.
In fact, Obama served twice as long - eight years - in the Illinois Senate in Springfield than in the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C.
But then, states have been disappointed by President Bush, a Republican whose pedigree and political party suggested he would favor a strong, cooperative federal-state partnership. Bush came to the White House directly from the governor's mansion in Austin, Texas.
Yet states and the federal government have clashed repeatedly during his presidency. Points of tension include federal dictates on state-issued driver's licenses, national testing standards under the No Child Left Behind Act, federal restrictions on states' efforts to provide taxpayer-subsidized health insurance to more children from low-income families, and the California-led effort to reduce global-warming gases from auto emissions.
Raymond Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association, calls the Bush years " a period of 'coercive federalism,' where the federal government more often just tells the states what to do."
The general election campaign should yield more clues as to whether where Obama has been will guide where he's going with the nation.