Federalism Has Changed

We have been bringing you weekly posts with excerpts from our short course on federalism.

Today we begin Part 3 of 4. For the next several weeks, we will review how and why American federalism has changed since the framer’s time.

The system of dual federalism set up by the framers has evolved into something complicated.  American federalism is now characterized by a mixture of dualism, cooperation, and coercion between the federal government and the states.  How that cooperation and coercion occurred is linked partly to choices in the way federal revenues are shared with the states.[1] The reasons why that happened have a lot to do with the degree to which the federal government and the states have and have not held shared interests in various policy arenas.  We will discuss each in the next few weeks.

If you prefer to read ahead, please do! Click here. See our other short courses here.

[1] A fuller summary from Kincaid, 2017, pp. 1061-1062 follows: The federal government has eight key tools to induce one-way state and local cooperation: (1) grants-in-aid, (2) deficit spending, (3) minimum national-standards schemes, (4) waivers of federal law, (5) compliance-deadline extensions, (6) federal forbearance, (7) court orders and consent decrees, and (8) statutory and regulatory penalties. In turn, there are six important advocates of state and local cooperation with federal policies: (1) nongovernmental organizations, (2) state and local administrator lobbyists, (3) public sector union lobbyists and litigators, (4) interest-group lobbyists, (5) citizen lawsuits, and (6) congressional oversight. In turn, six social and political forces facilitate state and local administrative cooperation with federal policies: (1) professional norms, (2) administrator socialization, (3) public support for federal policies, (4) moral approbation, (5) territorially dispersed diversity, and (6) partisan congruence and bipartisan ratchets.

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