Response or Comment
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Believing that grants-in-aid to state and local governments disarm the opposition of local elites and are thus of dubious constitutionality, Professor Cover asserts that the federal government ought to do more itself. However, his admonition that the federal government "ought to do more" is very vague. Would Cover like to eliminate all grants-in-aid? If not, what principles would guide his choice? Are direct federal orders to the states with no accompanying subsidy funds really preferable to the regulatory strings attached to spending programs? When should federally funded and administered programs preempt state and local initiatives and when should they merely supplement them? I propose a way to think about these unanswered questions and suggest that Cover's concerns are misplaced. Ending "cooperative" federalism would be unlikely to increase the political accountability of federal politicians significantly and could have a number of detrimental effects.
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