According to Derthick, the most appropriate ways of achieving federal objectives is through the grant system. The federal government uses the grant system to fund the state governments. Through issuing grants, the federal government plays a role in the state political system. However, it is an outlying actor and not an integral one because it lacks a legitimate purpose within the system. Further, the federal government has no legal right to decision making and no identified informal right of performing as a hobby. Nevertheless, it changes the environment under which the integral actors operate, changes the influence distribution among them, and hence in itself becomes an actor in the politics of the state (Derthick 1970, p.201).
The federal government becomes a state actor in policy making because it uses its grant funding system. The federal government expects that state governments come up with state agencies that can receive the government funds. Consequently, it is an unspoken recommendation that the more authority the state agency has in the distribution and uses of the state funds, the more likely it is to receive funding from the government. Once the funding has been devolved, the federal government strikes a rapport with the state agency so that the agency can serve as its spokesperson in ensuring that the federal objectives are achieved. The relationship between the two agencies favors’ both of them, and none wants to break because it is through the federal agency that the state agency gains authority and through the state agency that governmental objectives become successful (Derthick, 1970).
Nevertheless, if a state actively refuses to implement the federal objectives, then the federal government may withhold the funds. However, this is faced with significant criticisms from Congress because none of the state representatives want to see another state not receiving funding. They support each other because it may be their state in the spotlight another time. Therefore, instead of withholding funding, negotiations’ with the state governments is a better option. Consultations improve the relationship between the federal-state- and local systems and help uphold federalism (Derthick 1970, p.208).
In contrast, Krane explored the way the federal government achieved their national objectives in the reign of President Bush. Bush favored a centralized form of government, and he came up with policies like the No Child Left Behind and the Real ID and expected all the state governments to implement them without argument. Although the state government from the time they were developed served as a middleman, they were vehement to attack the federal government infringement on state flexibility. In this era, the federal government was performing as an integral actor in state politics. The centralism approach was viewed as an ideal way of marketing-policies that the government believed were the best is taking America to the next level (Krane, 2007).
Similarly, Posner and Conlan just like Derthick are not in favor of Bush’s approach. They are convinced that state governments should be left to flexibly run their governments without the federal government infringement. Posner & Wrightson (1996) to argue that the grant system is the best way for the federal government to advocate for the success of their objectives (p.87). Conlan claims that due to the constant change from the actual federalism to opportunism used by Bush, the best way to maintain federalism is by advocating for intergovernmental management so that the relations that exist do not blur (Conlan 2006, p. 673).
Q2. Federalism and the Obama Administration
The striking thing with the Obama administration lies in the array of techniques and the intensity of its endeavor to influence state budgets, policies, and administration. Hence, the U.S. domestic policies under Obama leaned towards impacting the performance of the state governments. The tread depicts a move towards centralization and away from federalism. However, with the Trump Administration, things have changed. The administration has loosened the grip of the Obama Medicaid and intends to increase state authority over education by creating an interstate bank assessment system that will allow states to assess students locally. Therefore, if he successfully implements his policies, then the nation will be leaning towards federalism.
Q3. How would Phillip Monypenny view the current relationship between the states and the federal government?
Monypenny (1960) argued that the grant-in-aid system was not designed to undermine federalism but instead refine it (p.16). However, if he would analyze the current grant system, he would be surprised that it is used by the federal government to lobby for state governments to make sure that the governmental objectives are successful. The Grant system is used by the government to infringe on state flexibility by making the federal government an integral actor in state decisionmaking.
Conlan, T. (2006). From Cooperative to Opportunistic Federalism: Reflections on the Half-Century Anniversary of the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. Public Administration Review, 663-676.
Derthick, M. (1970). Ways of Achieving Federal Objectives. In M. Derthick, The Influence of Federal Grants: Public Assistance in Massachusetts (pp. 201-214). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Krane, D. (2007). The Middle Tier in American Federalism: State Government Policy Activism During the Bush Presidency. The Journal of Federalism, 453-477.
Monypenny, P. (1960). Federal Grants-In-Aid to State Governments; A Political Analysis. National Tax Journal, 1-16.
Posner, P. L., & Wrightson, M. T. (1996). Block Grants: A Perennial, but Unstable, Tool of Government. The Journal of Federalism, 87- 110.