In this morning’s terrific Washington Post op-ed, Robert Samuelson warmly embraces a proposal to “swap”—more precisely, to disentangle—federal and state responsibilities for major “cooperative” programs: nationalize Medicaid, and in return wipe out federal financial aid (and along with it, regulatory impositions) for K-12 education and public transportation.
Earlier posts have painted a grim picture of our Constitution of Affluence. We can no longer afford our institutions, but they are too deeply entrenched to be dislodged by ordinary political means, in ordinary times. The upcoming election promises to be inconsequential: no reform program commensurate to our predicament is even on the table, let alone in any danger of being enacted.
My point isn’t to preach doom and despair; it is to suggest a more fruitful direction for our political-constitutional debate. That debate is polarized not only in an ideological sense but also in a substantive sense—between mere policy at one end and the formal Constitution at the other. It would be good to find middle ground.