Retired Federal judge and ex-US Senator (D, NY) James Buckley has an idea on this.
dismantle the more than 1,100 grants-in-aid programs that spend one-sixth of the federal budget on matters that are the exclusive business of state and local governments.
Those programs, which provide funding for Medicaid as well as everything from road and bridge construction to rural housing, job training and fighting childhood obesity—now touch virtually every activity in which state and local governments are engaged. Their direct cost has grown, according to the federal budget, to an estimated $640.8 billion in 2015 from $24.1 billion in 1970.
I’ve advocated elsewhere weaning the States off their Federal Medicaid grant addiction. The remaining 1,109 handouts to the States certainly should be eliminated, also. Those $641 billion compare to 2014’s Federal deficit of $483 billion. That surplus could be used to pay down (a little) our enormous Federal debt and to reverse its skyrocketing increase—a real bending of the curve.
That’s just the pecuniary fiscal cost of those programs and of the States’ addiction to them.
Because the grants come with detailed federal directives, they deprive state and local officials of the flexibility to meet their own responsibilities in the most effective ways, and undermine their citizens’ ability to ensure that their taxes will be used to meet their priorities rather than those of distant federal regulators.
Getting rid of these programs also would be a giant step toward restoring the Federalism that was, and can be again, the bedrock of our nation’s exceptionalism and greatness.