Editorials

February 26, 2014

Susan Estrich | The newest federalism

When he came to Washington in 1981, Ronald Reagan made much of his commitment to the “new federalism,” which in that case, like so many others, had very little to do with federalism. As later detailed by former Office of Management and Budget head David Stockman, in the name of federalism, the Reagan administration sought to dismantle federal social welfare programs that conservatives opposed, claiming it was an issue of whether state or federal government should be in charge. The problem, as soon became apparent, was that giving states new responsibilities without new funding sources meant you were shrinking government (or if you prefer, cutting help for the needy). And that, of course, was the point.

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