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sympathetic to the needs of the states.217
The sixteenth and seventeenth amendments laid the foundation for centralizing authority in the federal government and reducing the tenth amendment to "meaningless rhetoric." Garcia and Baker demonstrate just how far this centralization has gone. Ironically, the state governments actively participated in establishing this foundation by ratifying the amendments. The complaints voiced by the ACIR, the National Governors Association, and others indicate that, perhaps, the state governments made a mistake in passing the seventeenth amendment. The end result of this mistake affected the degree of autonomy the state governments have in exercising their authority and has effectively relegated them to the position of lobbyists. Additionally, Congress, left unchecked by the seventeenth amendment, has now created a national fiscal situation that is fundamentally out of balance.
Each of the several alternatives suggested to assure some level of autonomy has advantages and disadvantages. The first alternative, a statutory declaration of rights, may be possible, but implies an official surrender by the states to Congress. The second alternative, the passage of constitutional amendments, may change the course of federalism, but would require a concerted effort by state officials that may be difficult to attain or direct. The third alternative, active lobbying to assert constitutional rights, while potentially effective, seems inappropriate in light of our constitutional form which originally intended to decentralize the power of government.
None of these alternatives are simple or appealing. However, neither is the prospect that the coming generation may be devastated by the burden of paying off the national debt or stifled by a federal bureaucracy. Moreover, the longer the states continue in their present position, the more difficult it will be to find an effective means to strike a balance in the federal political process. In the end, a crisis may force a change. To this extent, the remarks of the Chairman of the National Governors Association218 and the burgeoning debt of this country, now approaching $3 trillion, indicate that a crisis is now upon us. Now is the time for change.
217. Garcia, 469 U.S. at 579-80 (Rehnquist, J., dissenting) (Justice Rehnquist infers that it is the presidential political process that will eventually change the holding in this line of cases).
218. See supra note 8 and accompanying text.