Proposals to turn national programs over to the states are abound in Washington. The failure of federal programs over the past 60 years demonstrates that centralized solutions to local problems are ineffective. Federalism—the constitutional distribution of power between the states and national government— is once again on the agenda.
Lessons regarding centralization have been learned the hard way. For example, since the 1960s the national government has spent $5 trillion on social welfare programs for such efforts as the “War on Poverty.” The result is a poverty rate of 15.1 percent—higher than the 14.7 percent rate we had before the Great Society. The nation cannot afford anymore trillion-dollar lessons. As an alternative, many leaders around the country are re-examining the role of the states.
But is the rhetoric of the politicians sincere? Is there a genuine movement in Washington toward federal decentralization?
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