Power Shifts In Intergovernmental Relations: A Result Of Fiscal Feder

762 words - 3 pages

Power Shifts in Intergovernmental Relations: A Result of Fiscal Federalism

     Fiscal federalism is the result of the states' dependence on the
national government for funds. Until 1913, the national government had minimal
monetary resources, thus possessing little control over the affairs of the
states. Once effected, the Sixteenth Amendment resulted in the amassing of
government funds on the national level. This reserve of money enabled the
national government to initiate a multitude of national programs--such as the
interstate highway--as well as provide grants to the states. It is primarily
through these grants that the national government can exert influence over state
affairs; for, by designating restrictions in the distribution of these grants,
the national government can compel states and localities to make or alter
policies and legislation in accordance with its agenda. The manner in which the
national government has wielded the influence of money throughout the history of
the nation has continually altered intergovernmental relations. Since the
Depression, fiscal federalism has caused the national government to dominate the
states; recently, however, reforms have begun to return power to the states.
     Policies and precedents of the New Deal centralized power in the
national government. To remedy the devastation of the Great Depression, it
assumed a more direct and prevalent role in the lives of the people. Congress
passed the 1935 Social Security Act, providing retired persons pensions and
benefits for the unemployed and disabled. In addition to Social Security, the
government also established the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in 1933
which provided states with money for the needy. The Aid to Families with
Dependent Children (AFDC) program was state-administered and federally funded,
another example of state dependence on the national government. The Works
Progress Administration is one of the multitude of programs implemented to
provide employment to aid in recovery. Formerly a state responsibility, the
national government became the primary source for relief. The national
government broadened its powers in response to this crisis and began to
supersede the state governments in decision-making. As a result, the states
began to relinquish their power and defer to as well as depend on the national
government. This increase in federal power did not exist solely under
Roosevelt's Depression-era administration but extended over to later
administrations as well.
     The remainder of the century until the present was marked by legislation
limiting the states even further. During the Great Society of the 1960s,
Congress passed Johnson's proposals for increased federal aid to education--
augmenting federal control and involvement over education, a power reserved for
the states. Moreover,...

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