Through out the 1930’s, Federalism began to grow along with an increased power towards federal grants and mandates due to the effects of the Depression. During the New Deal the Supreme Court ruled that national spending was not limited to just specific grants any more. The national government now had the power to grant, fund, and mandate money to any state under what conditions they choose. Currently Congress can imply considerable control over the states by placing federal money to particular federal mandates. Over the past 25 years Federalism has dramatically changed as a result of an increase in federal mandates. Starting with Jimmy Carter trying to return the government to Creative Federalism, he wanted to give federal aid to poor communities and to use public funds to promote private investment for certain problems while trying to create a partnership between state and national government.
On the other hand, Ronald Reagan reigned against big government during his four-year term from 1981-1988. In the end he decreased national spending towards states, which made many American citizens very unhappy. President George Bush stepped into to office next with a plan to continue with Reagan’s downsizing of government. While trying to carry out this goal, Bush lowered welfare spending, increased education programs and environmental protection, while increases in the cost of Medicaid rose, leading to a national grant increase. Bill Clinton reversed the system when he signed the Executive Order 13803, which allows for federal intervention in policy matters with state and local government. Many agreed that this order seriously eroded federalism. Through out the past 25 years, the ideas of government grants and mandates have varied almost from each president. With Clinton in office he increased under-funded federal mandates to states. These changes have caused Federalism to change as well, with the age-old question still pondering in the minds of Americans, who actually has the most power, the states or national government?
In 1990 a federal mandate was passed called the Americans with Disability Act The Federal Law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate on the
basis of a disability. It makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability in job application process, hiring, discharge of employee, job training, and other terms. Also all businesses must make accommodation for employees with a disability. In addition, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person who is perceived to have a disability, that is if the employer believes one is disabled, even though he is not, and still discriminates against him.
The Federal Government issued this mandate in order to ensure that all American citizens have the same advantages. Although a citizen might be disabled, it does not mean that he or she is in capable of working. It is unfair to discriminate against a person with a disability when our country was founded on treating all citizens with equality and ensuring uniform rights for all. Enforcing this act would reduce the number of citizens needing welfare and decrease the unemployment rate.
Many mandates affect both the state and local government budgets. Several mandates are associated with federal grant-in-aid programs, where money is paid to state and local governments for programs or activities the federal government wants to promote. While participation in these programs is “voluntary”, the offer of federal money often is too tempting for states to refuse. For example, the federal government pays about $250 million annually for Minnesota highways. However, the money comes with requirements, such as lane width and pavement thickness. Other mandates apply to both government and the private sector these include the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
These two mandates are costly and come with no financial assistance. Private sectors include small business; such as my father’s very own physical therapy clinics. In 1990 when the law was past, he had to make accommodations for disabled citizens. Although my father does treat many disable citizens already, he had to make further modification to his clinics such as; even larger bathrooms, special equipment, and wheelchair ramps to meet the federal mandate standards while funding the project by himself.
If the government were to remove this federal mandate, the Americans with Disability Act, many consequences would follow. This act enables all citizens a chance to earn a job. With this mandate the government is ensuring the same equal rights to all Americans. Also with the mandate doctors are not allowed to “say” if a patient is able to return to work or not after being disabled . The doctors are now only authorized to state the patient’s limitations, it is up to the employer to claim if the patient is unable to work. This one factor allows more citizens with disabilities to work. If the mandate were removed then fewer citizens would return to work, due to the fact that doctors would have to title all patients “disabled” if they had any sort of limitation.
The increase of federal mandates does show that the national governments are taking control over the states governments, which defeats the idea of Federalism. When using a federal system of government, both the state and the national government are suppose to SHARE power. Federal mandates work against the definition of true Federalism. Mandates do not contribute to the sharing of powers. Federal mandates control states. The states do not have a chose to participate in the mandate or not. Therefore, federal mandates drive our country away from the ideas of Federalism.