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Tuesday, January 17, 2017


HW due Thursday: Read 113-123 and complete the reading quiz.

Federalism Quiz on Friday

The devolution revolution (sometimes referred to as Nixon's New Federalism) is characterized by power shifting from the national government back to the states. Since FDR's New Deal, power has gradually concentrated with the federal government. Starting with Nixon in the 1970s, continuing with Reagan in the 1980s, and culminating with President Clinton, a Republican-led Congress, and a more conservative court in the 1990s, devolution has increased state power in some respects while limiting the power of the national government.

Several examples of New Federalism/devolution include:

  • Revenue sharing (1970s-1986)
  • Increase in use of block grants
  • Major Court decisions (i.e. US v. Lopez, 1995)
Not everyone supports the devolution movement though. In The Devil in Devolution, John Donahue raises several serious criticisms about the effectiveness of allowing states the power and discretion to make public policy. Here are several discussion questions from the article:


  1. What is devolution?  Do you think Donahue supports devolution or not?  Explain your answer.

  1. What is the “Problem of the Commons”?

  1. How do each of the following illustrate the problems of devolution?

  • Presidential primaries
  • Divorce and same –sex marriage
  • Environmental legislation
  • Legalized gambling

  1. How would defenders of states’ rights refute Donahue’s arguments?

  1. What are the negative consequences of regulating and legislating at the national level in such a diverse country?

Democracy in Action Video: Section 3-Welfare Reform (start at 17:00)

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