Having The Federal Dialogue
This chapter discusses the guidelines for the needed federalism debate by outlining a sequence of evaluative questions that national policy-makers should consider before the passage of any national law that affects one or more of the three institutions of federalism: assignment as to who does what, the number of lower-tier governments, and representation of those governments to the national legislature. The proposed evaluation provides citizens with a Federalism Impact Statement, or FIST, for the proposed policy. As implemented, FIST begins with an analysis of the economic implications of each proposed central government policy by asking whether the national benefits of the policy outweigh its national costs, and whether there might be an alternative policy that is plausibly more efficient. If the proposed policy is viewed as inefficient, by itself or relative to alternative policies, then FIST asks whether there is evidence of, or plausible argument for, compensating benefits from improved local political participation, improved economic fairness, or increased protection of individual rights or liberties. If so, then FIST asks whether these noneconomic benefits can be achieved more efficiently. The execution of FIST would be by an independent agency, such as the Congressional Budget Office or the European Commission, while a national court could ensure that all relevant central government legislation acknowledge, though not necessarily accept, the content and conclusions of the FIST analysis.
Keywords: federalism, federalism debate, national law, Federalism Impact Statement, proposed policy, political participation, economic fairness, protection of rights, protection of liberties, FIST analysis
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