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Federal Policymaking and the Poor

Federal Policymaking and the Poor: National Goals, Local Choices, and Distributional Outcomes

Michael J. Rich
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 456
  • Book Info
    Federal Policymaking and the Poor
    Book Description:

    Do federal, state, and local governments differ in their responsiveness to the needs of the poorest citizens? Are policy outcomes different when federal officials have greater influence regarding the use of federal program funds? To answer such questions, Michael Rich examines to what extent benefits of federal programs actually reach needy people, focusing on the relationship between federal decision-making systems and the distributional impacts of public policies. His extensive analysis of the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), the principal federal program for aiding cities, reveals that the crucial divisions in domestic policy are not among the levels of government, but between constellations of participants in the different governmental arenas.

    Rich traces the flow of funds under the CDBG from program enactment through three tiers of targeting--to needy places, to needy neighborhoods, and to needy people--and offers a comparative study of eight CDBG entitlement communities in the Chicago area. He demonstrates that while national program parameters are important for setting the conditions under which local programs operate, the redistributive power of federal programs ultimately depends upon choices made by local officials. These officials, he argues, must in turn be pressed by benefits coalitions at the community level in order to increase the likelihood that federal funds will reach their targets.

    Originally published in 1993.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6358-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  7. List of Chicago CDBG Program Years
    (pp. xxiii-xxiii)
  8. The National Policy Context

    • CHAPTER ONE Introduction
      (pp. 3-21)

      This book examines the relationship between federal decisionmaking systems and the distributional impacts of public policies. Its purpose is to sharpen our conceptual understanding of how governments in the American federal system interact to solve problems as well as to inform policy-makers of the effects different decisionmaking systems have on program outcomes. The principal theme underlying much of the analysis concerns the role federal, state, and local officials play in determining the uses of federal funds, and how, if at all, these roles change over time. Two central questions are addressed. First, are policy outcomes different when federal officials—as...

    • CHAPTER TWO Block Grants as Policy Instruments
      (pp. 22-56)

      The national government relies on a variety of policy instruments to achieve its objectives. These include direct expenditures (national defense, space exploration), regulation (clean air and water, occupational safety), tax incentives (home ownership), loans and loan guarantees (agricultural commodities), and grants-in-aid (payments to individuals such as food stamps and aid to families with dependent children and payments to jurisdictions such as wastewater treatment construction grants and community development block grants). Increasingly, the federal government has done more by doing less itself, and scholars have referred to such policymaking as “third party government,” “government by proxy,” and “third party federalism.”¹


  9. Tier I:: Targeting to Needy Places

    • CHAPTER THREE Targeting Federal Funds to Needy Places
      (pp. 59-103)

      Federal grant-in-aid programs are created to bestow benefits on specific constituencies. One of the most difficult issues for the framers of grant programs to resolve is how those benefits should be distributed. Who should be eligible to participate in federal programs? States? Cities? Counties? State and local governments? How should funds be awarded to eligible recipients? By formula or on a project-by-project basis? Who should determine which communities receive funding? Congress? The Bureaucracy? These are critical issues that shape the structure of federal programs and quite often make or break legislative enactment.

      Just as the functional areas to which federal...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Small Community Needs and the Responsiveness of State Governments
      (pp. 104-156)

      The housing and Community Development Act of 1974 provided no role for state governments. States were not entitled to receive any CDBG funds, nor were they given any responsibility for program administration. This pattern was consistent with the direct federal-local relationship that had characterized community development efforts in the past. Given a choice, most local officials would prefer that assistance come from Washington rather than their state capitals. Indeed, it was the lack of responsiveness from their own states that led the cities to come to Washington in search of assistance for housing and community development in the first place.¹...

  10. Tier II:: Targeting to Needy Neighborhoods

    • CHAPTER FIVE Targeting to Needy Neighborhoods in the City
      (pp. 159-218)

      While the CDBG formula may direct a disproportionate, but shrinking, share of funds to the nation’s most distressed cities, an equally, if not more important question, concerns the extent to which distressed cities use their block grant funds to help their neediest neighborhoods. Indeed, much of the contemporary experience with federal urban programs indicates that programs that were designed in Washington to help the nation’s distressed cities address the problems of inner-city neighborhoods were frequently captured by mayors and used for other purposes. Case studies of the urban renewal program, for example, pointed out in city after city how mayors...

    • CHAPTER SIX Targeting to Needy Neighborhoods in Suburban Cities
      (pp. 219-255)

      Historically, federal urban programs had been designed for and directed toward the problems of the nation’s central cities. With the advent of President Richard Nixon’s New Federalism, federal assistance was distributed more widely to cities of all sizes, regions, conditions, and levels of previous program experience. Indeed, many recipients of federal funds under programs such as general revenue sharing and CDBG were relatively well-off suburban communities that exhibited few of the problems central cities struggled to cope with.

      For most suburban cities participating in the community development program, CDBG represented their first encounter with a federal housing program. Many suburban...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Urban Counties: Targeting CDBG Funds to Needy Municipalities
      (pp. 256-292)

      County governments were among the major beneficiaries of Richard Nixon’s New Federalism. Although county participation in federal programs can be traced back to the earliest federal grant programs, prior to Nixon’s New Federalism initiatives most federal aid to counties was for either agricultural programs or for health and welfare programs, for which counties largely served as administrative adjuncts for state governments. As the number and amount of federal grant-in-aid programs grew during the 1960s, a substantial share of these funds was directed at central cities to address problems of poverty. Other programs, such as those administered by the Economic Development...

  11. Tier III: Targeting to Needy People

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Who Benefits from Block Grant Funding?
      (pp. 295-322)

      One of the central issues that framed debate on President Nixon’s proposal for community development special revenue sharing concerned the place of national objectives in federal programs. The Nixon administration preferred a decentralized approach, in which local governments would be given substantial discretion in determining the mix and location of activities assisted with federal funds. Congress, particularly the Senate, on the other hand, resisted such an approach, fearing a special revenue sharing format would lead to a loss of federal control over grant-in-aid programs. In particular, the Senate pressed hard for the inclusion of national goals and objectives in the...

  12. Conclusion

    • CHAPTER NINE Block Grants, National Goals, and Local Choices
      (pp. 325-350)

      This book has analyzed the linkages between federal decisionmaking systems and the distributional impacts of public programs. In previous chapters, systematic empirical analyses of the flow of federal funds from Washington to states and communities, from recipient communities to specific neighborhoods, and from recipient communities to particular types of beneficiary populations, have shown that the type of decisionmaking system has important implications for the extent to which federal funds reach their intended targets.

      Four broad conclusions emerge from the empirical analyses of the distribution of community development block grant funds reported in the preceding chapters. First is the important role...

  13. APPENDIX Data, Indices, and Methods
    (pp. 351-374)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 375-412)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 413-426)
  16. Index
    (pp. 427-432)