Dan Holler

Last week, I took issue with rumored 2016 contender and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who seemingly dismissed the importance of balancing the federal budget as “an obsession with government bookkeeping.”

While I promise I am not obsessed with the Governor, six words from his 3,400-word speech kept running through my mind: America is not the federal government.

Those words stand in sharp contrast to President Obama’s vision, explained in his second inaugural address, of “collective action.” Although it is, “fiction that all societies’ ills can be cured through government alone,” Obama said, “we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.”

Put another way, think of the federal government as your partner in life – you and Barack at the dinner table, planning the next big purchase or how to keep the family safe.

This week, the Senate will embark on a legislative effort to “protect its people from life’s worst hazards,” as the President says. Unfortunately, there is little evidence the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been successful at anything other than expanding the reach of the federal government.

Writing about the Senate’s attempt to reauthorize the now-expired law, my Heritage Action colleague Katherine Rosario explains, “that as a woman, I have no interest in seeing myself or any other woman become a victim of violence,” however, VAWA is “completely useless legislation.”

Indeed, since VAWA became law in 1994, there have been no large-scale, scientifically rigorous studies on the effectiveness of the law’s grant programs. Katherine makes a larger point, though:

“In an imperfect world, there will always be work to be done to prevent acts of violence. But the ‘solutions’ put in place by VAWA are based on the idea that violence against women is a result of their ‘weaker social, political, and financial status.’ Thus, the ‘substance of VAWA focused largely on redistributing power and resources to female victims.’ This has served to undermine equal protection and the rule of law.

“Over the past 18 years, VAWA has morphed into a smorgasbord of feel-good intentions about violence. Over that same period of time, VAWA has had no scientifically discernible effect on the level of violence in this country, proving once again Washington is not the solution.”

America is not the federal government. Washington is not the solution.


Dan Holler

Dan Holler is the Communications Director for Heritage Action for America. Previously, he held numerous positions at The Heritage Foundation, most recently he was the Senate Relations Deputy. A Maryland native, he is a graduate of Washington College.