The Price of Federalism (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Brookings Institution Press, Jan 1, 2012 - Political Science - 239 pages
0 Reviews

What is the price of federalism? Does it result in governmental interconnections that are too complex? Does it create overlapping responsibilities? Does it perpetuate social inequalities? Does it stifle economic growth?

To answer these questions, Paul Peterson sets forth two theories of federalism: functional and legislative. Functional theory is optimistic. It says that each level of the federal system is well designed to carry out the tasks for which it is mainly responsible. State and local governments assume responsibility for their area's physical and social development; the national government cares for the needy and reduces economic inequities. Legislative theory, in contrast, is pessimistic: it says that national political leaders, responding to electoral pressures, misuse their power. They shift unpopular burdens to lower levels of government while spending national dollars on popular government programs for which they can claim credit.

Both theories are used to explain different aspects of American federalism. Legislative theory explains why federal grants have never been used to equalize public services. Elected officials cannot easily justify to their constituents a vote to shift funds away from the geographic area they represent. The overall direction that American federalism has taken in recent years is better explained by functional theory. As the costs of transportation and communication have declined, labor and capital have become increasingly mobile, placing states and localities in greater competition with one another. State and local governments are responding to these changes by overlooking the needs of the poor, focusing instead on economic development. As a further consequence, older, big cities of the Rust Belt, inefficient in their operations and burdened by social responsibilities, are losing jobs and population to the suburban communities that surround them.

Peterson recommends that the national government adopt policies that take into account the economic realities identified by functional theory. The national government should give states and localities responsibility for most transportation, education, crime control, and other basic governmental programs. Welfare, food stamps, the delivery of medical services, and other social policies should become the primary responsibility of the national government.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

The Evolution of Modern Federalism
1
The 1991 Fiscal Crisis
2
The Price of Early Federalism
5
The Rise of Modern Federalism
10
The Contemporary Price of Federalism
13
Functional and Legislative Theories of Federalism
16
Functional Theory
17
Locus of the Developmental Function
18
Slowdown in Economic Growth
111
Changing Perceptions of the Poor
112
Politics Turns Conservative
114
States Offset Federal Increases
119
The Welfare Magnet
121
The Future of State Welfare Policy
126
National Grants Is Equity Possible?
129
National Determination of State Role
130

Locus of the Redistributive Function
27
An Empirical Theory
35
Legislative Theory
39
Legislators and Development
41
Legislators and Redistribution
43
A Theory of Change
47
Conclusions
48
The Changing Federal System
50
The Adolescence of Modern Federalism
51
Classifying Government Expenditure
64
The Redistributive Focus of the National Government
67
The Developmental Focus of State and Local Governments
69
Intergovernmental Grants
75
Conclusions
83
Why States Choose Different Policies
85
The Variation in State Expenditure
86
Determinants of State Developmental and Redistributive Policy
89
A Comprehensive Explanation of State Expenditure
104
Conclusions
106
Welfare A Race to the Bottom?
108
Trends in Welfare Policy
109
Appropriate Units of Analysis
131
Factors Affecting the Distribution of Federal Grants
134
A Comprehensive Explanation of Federal Aid Policy
143
Conclusions
152
Big Cities Is the Problem Financial?
153
The Urban Political Economy
154
The Cost of BigCity Government
157
The Cost of BigCity Schools
162
Federalism and Big Cities
164
National Politics and the Fiscal Future of Big Cities
172
Reducing the Price of Federalism
175
The Future of Redistributive Policy
179
Stability and Change in American Federalism
183
Things That Should Not Be Changed
186
Things That Cannot Be Changed
189
Things That Can and Should Be Changed
191
Appendix
197
Notes
203
References
219
Index
233
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2012)

Paul E. Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government at Harvard, the director of PEPG, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is author or editor of numerous books, including The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools, with William G. Howell (Brookings, 2004 and 2006). He is coeditor (with Martin West) of No Child Left Behind? The Practice and Politics of School Accountability(Brookings, 2003).

Bibliographic information