What are the advantages and disadvantages of changing from dual federalism to cooperative federalism?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cooperative federalism, which emerged in the 1930s, enabled state and federal governments to cooperate to solve complex problems. It essentially gave the federal government more power relative to the states. Problems like old age pensions, medical care for the poor, and many others that were deemed too broad, expensive, or complex for states to address themselves were essentially taken on by the federal government, which developed an expansive bureaucracy to address them.

Consider, for example, the problem of water pollution. Because rivers and other waterways do not adhere to state boundaries, many argued that a federal agency was needed to regulate pollution. For these reasons, federal laws were passed and the Environmental Protection Agency was founded. The EPA works with state agencies, but the point is that states must adhere to certain uniform standards when it comes to such regulations. The disadvantage, many argue, is that cooperative federalism is not really all that cooperative. What this really means is that the powers of the federal government are expanding relative to those of the states. Some people view this development as unconstitutional. These differing perspectives on federalism have been a major political issue for more than a century.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major benefit of this change is that both the federal government and the state governments can now attack various problems.  We can see this, for example, in the field of education.  Cooperative federalism gives the national government the ability to participate in making education policy, but the states still have the power to do things on their own.  This puts more perspectives to work on a given problem.

The major disadvantage is that there is now much less in the way of state power.  With cooperative federalism, there is not as much room for states to be sovereign.  The federal government reaches into more and more areas of policy that were once reserved for the states.