The Federal Government
and the City
New York City's relationship with the federal government is very different from its relationship with New York State. As seen in the intergovernmental relationships surrounding the fiscal crisis, the federal government is not legally responsible for the actions of the city or its officials, while the state is. The federal response to the city during the fiscal crisis, similar to the response after the September n attacks, was not based upon any constitutional obligation. It was solely based on political calculations by officials at the federal level as well as lobbying in Washington by New York State and New York City officials. In addition, the relationship that the city has with the federal government today has evolved since the 1930s. Prior to that point, the relationship was minimal. Based primarily upon fiscal assistance (i.e., intergovernmental grants) coming from the federal level, the relationship peaked in the late 1970s, declined substantially during the 1980s, never recovering fully. Much of the evolving federal-city relationship centered around programs such as urban renewal, model cities, and the Community Development Block Grant. These programs represented the federal government's efforts to target financial assistance to urban areas. They do not, however, represent the entire impact that the federal government has had on urban areas. Federal programs with a broader scope such as the funding of the interstate highway system and the interest on home mortgage tax deduction were not directed specifically at urban areas, yet they had a significant impact on urban and metropolitan development, not all of it positive.
Beginning with the New Deal, but accelerating in the 1960s and 1970s, New York City, like most large cities and many local governments, developed a relationship with the federal government independent of its relationship with the state. During this period, the federal government made available to cities billions of dollars in aid covering many policy areas. Between 1970 and 1978 alone, federal grants to cities increased by over 700 percent (Fossett 1984). While some cities were reluctant to become entangled with the federal regulations accompanying