Power to the People; the Case for State and Local Government

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 19, 2007 | Go to article overview

Power to the People; the Case for State and Local Government


Byline: Gary Andres, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

I recently wrote a column arguing that federalism deserves a reprise ("Whatever happened to federalism?" The Washington Times, Feb. 15). Shifting money, power and influence out of Washington and back to the states is an old idea that merits some new attention.

Last month, the nation's governors gathered at the White House and pitched the same theme. Washington is either too partisan, too slow or too inflexible to address many domestic problems effectively. Governors want the freedom and the resources to take a crack at solving some of these problems. And they came to Washington to ask for the tools to do just that.

It turns out that governors aren't the only ones interested in moving government programs closer to the people. Public opinion strongly supports this renewed flight to federalism as well. In a recent nationwide Dutko Worldwide poll, conducted in late January 2007 (800 registered voters, +/- 3.5% margin of error) voters expressed a distinct preference for devolving power out of Washington both as a general proposition, but also as a way to improve specific programs such as health care.

For example, when we asked if voters would prefer giving more power to state and local governments to make policy decisions and develop their own programs, or would they prefer more centralized decision-making in Washington, a robust 74 percent chose the state and local approach, and only 21 percent wanted more centralized power in Washington. These results varied little across ideological, political or demographic lines. For example, while 76 percent of self-described conservatives wanted more local control, so did 74 percent of self-described liberals. …

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