martes, 11 de abril de 2006

Federalism and Texas

Daniel Franco

Government 2301-2460

Dr. Eileen Lynch

March 2006

8. Federalism and Texas

Explain and give two examples of how the government and politics of Texas are affected by the federal system.

As we have mentioned it before, federalism is the system where the federal, state and local governments share power as provided by the Constitution. This ensures that, for our particular state of Texas, the internal workings of its government and politics are affected and influenced by the federal system.

In our textbook we are presented with seven specific examples of how the federal government has an impact on the Texan government, and also how the selection and function of Governor is also influenced by factors concerning federal issues. Briefly explained, the examples of this influence are apparent in the fact that many of the processes and circumstances that generate and demand an action on the part of the federal government affect Texas both directly and indirectly for the simple reason that, although Texas is for Texans, it is still an integral part of this nation, of the United States of America.

In particular, I want to focus on the examples provided to us in the video lesson. We’ve seen that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal ushered in the 20th Century era of federal government expansion by installing a variety of programs to aid the states in meeting the needs of their welfare programs. And we’ve also seen that sixty-one years later, when the welfare reform was put into effect, it effectively changed the way Texas dealt with many problems of public welfare in order to better take advantage of the sudden shift in the allocation of power from the federal government to the states.

For example, Texas has the second largest population in the nation and thus requires a substantial representation in Congress. Thirty Representatives (or thirty one, according to the estimation of Representative Sandlin in the video) work as a team to influence in the most effective manner possible how Congress allocates resources in favor of Texas. Specifically, as Representative Sandlin mentions in the video interview, we can review the issue of funding allocation for highway construction and maintenance. According to Representative Sandlin, Texas has traditionally gotten the “short end of the stick” in the allocation of revenues from gas taxes. And when he spoke of this issue in the video, he made reference to the fact that the six-year period of renewal for the specific piece of legislation was looming closer, and that all the Representatives were putting in a team effort in order to change Texas’ portion to its benefit. Perhaps, Tom DeLay could have used his considerable influence as Majority Whip back then to tip the scales as much as legally possible in favor of Texas in this particular matter. However, he speaks in the video about avoiding this particular pitfall in his dual role as Texas’ Representative and Majority Whip. In light of recent events, he should just have gone ahead and done it anyway. But, cynicism aside, the fact that federalism is patently at work in this example should be highlighted. Texas is only able to compete for a better share of federal funding with the rest of the states in the political arena because the flexibility inherent in the system.

Also, in this same vein, we have the example of the child-support payment collection activities particular for each state. Although there is still a debate raging about the pros and cons of a federally controlled program (pro: access to interstate resources for tracking and enforcement of payments; con: ballooning costs because of the unavoidable raging-maniac-lunatic bureaucracy) the salient point of this example is that the funding policies of the federal government encourage the states to find their own solutions to this problem by applying their intimate knowledge of their regional needs.

Clearly, federalism both hinders and promotes the exercise and development of Texas’ ability to care for its population and to bolster and uphold the nation to which it belongs.

Sources:

Texas Politics, 9th Edition, Richard H. Kraemer, Charldean Newell, David F. Prindle, Thomson Wadsword, © 2005

United States and Texas government I. Programs 1-26 [video recording], Presented by Dallas TeleLearning DCCCD, © 2005

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