“Corrupt. Ruinous. Unstable”

by Susan Olsen

Cooperative” federalism is supposed to come from Congress and federal statutes. However, practically nothing comes from Congress these days. The legislature is notoriously divided. It lacks the financial resources to rope recalcitrant states in new federalism bargains (witness the ACA), and it cannot even revisit the bargains embedded in old statutes (such as education programs or the Clean Air Act). Thus, to make federal programs “work” under current conditions, agencies rewrite statutes, issue expansive waivers, and negotiate deals with individual states on a one-off basis. That is how the ACA is being “administered.” That is how Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell is trying to expand Medicaid. That is how No Child Left Behind is run. And that is how Environmental Protection Agency is trying to impose its Clean Power Plan: “stakeholder meetings” and assurances of regulatory forbearance for cooperating states; unveiled threats against holdout states. This brand of federalism knows neither statutory compliance nor even administrative regularity. It is executive federalism.

. . . .  Further along that path lies the fate of Argentina, which practices an advanced form of executive federalism: corrupt, ruinous, unstable.” – Michael Greve

 

 

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