CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE
SEPTEMBER 19, 1962
Mr. MUSKIE. Mr. President, I should like to inform my colleagues that the Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations of the Committee on Government Operations held its first hearing on problems of Federal-State-local relations on Tuesday, September 18. This hearing was conducted in the form of a panel discussion, with experts in the field of intergovernmental relations presenting their views on problem areas in federalism. Prior to their presentation of prepared remarks on this subject, Senators MUNDT, ERVIN, and I made some introductory remarks which I believe will be of interest to our colleagues. I ask unanimous consent to place these remarks in the RECORD at this point.
There being no objection, the texts of these remarks were ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT BY SENATOR EDMUND S. MUSKIE, CHAIRMAN,
SEPTEMBER 18, 1962,
SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING ON PROBLEMS IN THE FIELD OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS
This is the first hearing to be conducted by the newly created Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations, established under Senate Resolution 359 of the 87th Congress. I should like to include in the record at this point the resolution and Senate Report No. 1716 which accompanied it. In this material can be found the reasoning which led to Senate action to give specific attention to ways and means of enhancing cooperation between all levels of Government and strengthening our Federal system.
The field of intergovernmental relations might be categorized as the "Hidden Dimension of Government." Performing as almost a fourth branch of government in meeting the needs of our people, it nonetheless has no direct electorate, operates from no set perspective, is under no special control, and moves in no particular direction. Programs in this field make an unpredictable impart on our society and our economy. The world of intergovernmental relations is represented by no policymaking body -- there is no executive, no legislature and no judiciary. The Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations serves as is major meeting ground, but this organization functions only in an advisory capacity. What we hope to do in the work of this subcommittee is to give this hidden dimension of Government definition and identity -- to understand what it is and what its potential is, and in what directions it is moving.
Evidence that this field makes a major impact on the lives of all Americans can be found in its involvement in such matters as highways, housing, public assistance, hospitals, airports, public health, unemployment compensation, education, agricultural extension, and waste treatment facilities. A substantial amount of our governmental expenditures is involved in those programs every year. Assuming that we consider the combined Federal, State and local contributions, estimates of the sum involved range from $11 billion in fiscal 1962 to $14 billion in 1963. It is significant to note that no governmental authority is prepared to provide any specific data on this subject. This amount is greater than the total Federal budget used to be in the not too distant past, and yet we do not see it appearing as a recognizable entity in the Federal budget or in State and local budgets.
It is our purpose today to explore with a panel of experts the problems in the field of Federal-State-local relations which they view as currently causing major difficulties in the proper functioning of our Federal system. It is clear that many Americans hold drastically conflicting views on the relative roles of the different levels of government, and it is our intention to give careful attention to every point of view to determine which pattern of interrelationships best serves the needs of the United States during this period of our history.
Woodrow Wilson said that "the question of the relation of the States to the Federal Government is the cardinal question of our constitutional system." Our Founding Fathers created a system of the division of powers between levels of government which has withstood the test of time. There are those who say that the system is outmoded and an anachronism in the space age. But we find growing evidence that State and local governments are trying to make the necessary adjustments to meet the needs of the time.
What seems to be the pattern that is taking shape in governmental efforts to cope with public needs and demands has been referred to by one authority as a "marble cake" of relationships rather than the old "Layer cake." More and more the emphasis is on cooperation rather than competition between levels of government. We hear less talk about States' rights and more talk about States' responsibilities. When it became clear that the Federal Government had more power to accomplish certain public ends than was necessary to do the job, the comment of James Madison that the system required "reciprocal forbearance" took on new meaning.
There is no sense denying that the 20th century has seen the rise of "revolutionary" demands on the part of the people for the provision of services by the government. What we are striving to achieve is a new balance of governmental activity which unshackles all levels of government to perform their tasks adequately. At the Same time, we must be on guard to prevent the growth of the kind of imbalance that leads to the stultification of local initiative and the deprivation of individual rights. The tendency to overlook the establishment of appropriate standards by which to measure the total cost and the allocation of the costs of government must be checked it Sound fiscal management is to prevail.
When we look at the current situation in the field of Federal-State-local relations, we find numerous problem areas existing, many of them festering because of inaction or the lack of proper action. A brief cataloging of trouble spots includes: the governmental organization of metropolitan areas, the conservation of natural resources, the division of revenue resources, the apportionment of electoral districts (now being redressed somewhat by the Supreme Court decision), the provision of adequate transportation, the provision of adequate housing, the maintenance of a high standard of education, the status of grant-in-aid programs, and many more.
Such basic questions as the extent to which local self-government should be granted, what measures should be adopted to strengthen State and local finances, how decentralization of government administration should be achieved, and what steps should be taken to improve cooperation between the levels of government, remain unanswered.
Our subcommittee has been given the broad mandate by the Senate to "examine, investigate, and make a complete study of intergovernmental relationships between the United States and the States and municipalities." It is also called upon to review the recommendations made in this area by the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. In order to perform these functions, we should first find out what the relevant organizations representing both geographic and functional groups regard as the basic problem areas from their point of view. We are now, of course, in the very preliminary stages of reviewing these problem areas and intend to hold additional hearings this fall to determine what specific contributions the subcommittee can make to the resolution of these problems. In addition to observations of the men who have kindly agreed to assemble here today for a panel discussion of these issues, we plan on calling for the views of a wide range of governmental and non governmental organizations, scholars and practitioners alike. In this manner, we hope to ultimately be able to offer to the Congress some legislative proposals which will contribute to the strengthening of our Federal system.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR KARL E. MUNDT, AT THE FIRST HEARING OF THE NEWLY CREATED SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS
Mr. Chairman, this hearing marks the public debut of the newly created Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations. I have great confidence that this subcommittee, acting as an agency of the National Legislature, can make a meaningful and constructive contribution to the advancement and improvement of our Federal system.
It seems to me most fitting that the first public action of this subcommittee should be a panel discussion by a group of men, all knowledgeable in the field of intergovernmental relations concerning the critical problems that face us as a nation in the broad sector of Federal, State, and local governmental relations. This discussion and the similar discussions which will be pursued with other panels will, I am sure, provide us with valuable information and ideas.
The Federal system, as conceived by the drafters of the Constitution, stands as one of the most remarkable and worthwhile innovations in the history of mankind's experience with representative government.
Historically, we know that the Federal principle came into being as a compromise between two sharply divided schools of thought -- those who sought to abolish all State autonomy and establish a unitary governmental authority at the national level and those who desired a Central Government of form rather than substance with the primary governmental authority being retained by the several States.
From its inception the essence of the Federal system has been balance -- the striking of an equilibrium between the central authority required for unity and action as a single national entity and the circumferential authority and State autonomy demanded for the meaningful operation of our democratic political system.
We have now functioned as a nation under this system for 173 years. During that period the Federal system has undergone many changes and adjustments. A third level of government has emerged, deriving its powers and authority from the States. Generally denominated as local government, this third level includes our county, township, and municipal governments, which are charged with providing basic governmental services specially tailored to meet the needs of a particular locale or an individual community.
Since the original enunciation of the Federal principle, population growth, the increased mobility of people, military emergencies, economic crises, industrial development, commercial diversification and dramatic technological advancements have wrought significant and lasting changes in the character and composition of this Nation. The changes of profile and content have brought with them ever-increasing demands for better service at all levels of government.
Three major wars and a serious economic depression during the past five decades have compounded the pressures for governmental action. All of these events and developments have combined to place extraordinary stresses and strains on the Federal system.
In numerous instances, responding to pressures for emergency action, the Federal Government has expanded existing authority or undertaken responsibilities previously carried by the States and their local units of government. Rarely has there been a relinquishment or retrocession of this authority by the Federal Government after the emergency has passed. This development has caused many individuals to contend that the Federal system is now out of balance with too great an accretion of power and authority at the center. Other commentators have concluded that the continued growth of central power and authority is an inevitable development in an increasingly complex society. There are even some who have charged that State and local units of Government are nothing more than outmoded relics of the 18th century, lacking the competency and capacity to govern in these fast-moving times of the 20th century. I personally regard this latter view as "ismatic propaganda" and directly in conflict with the abundant evidence of dramatic State and local governmental growth since the end of World War II.
This diversity of opinion and viewpoint on the present and future status of the various levels of government reflects the important need for an objective assessment and analysis of the Federal system and the current relationships existing among its constituent parts. I am delighted that the Senate has charged us with that responsibility.
During the course of our study and investigation I hope that we can give consideration to such problem areas as:
1. The equitable division of tax sources among the various levels of government.
2. Federal involvement in urban development and the accompanying impact on State and local government.
3. The system of Federal grants-in-aid; its growth; its direction; and its effect on the efficient utilization of State and local resources.
4. The prospective role of State and local government in our development of peaceful uses of atomic energy.
5. The appropriate role of the National Government in assisting State and local governments to more effectively fulfill their functions and responsibilities.
6. The growth of inter local cooperation; its capacity for effecting improvement in the quality of government at the local level; and its corresponding use in areas of high and low population density.
The chairman has suggested several other avenues of inquiry which should lead to a more comprehensive understanding by the Congress of the critical challenges presently confronting the Federal system. In the final analysis what we are seeking, and what I hope we will obtain, are objective answers to the eternal question. "How can representative government best serve the needs and aspirations of the people from which it derives its power and authority?"
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS OF SENATOR SAM J. ERVIN, JR., AT THE FIRST HEARING OF THE NEWLY CREATED SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS
Mr. Chairman, I have no prepared statement. However, I would like to make a few observations on the subject under discussion.
In my judgment, William Gladstone was clearly right in the main when he said that the Constitution of the United States was the greatest instrument ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.
As a matter of fact, however, he was partly in error in that statement. The Constitution of the United States was not struck off at a given moment, although it was reduced to writing at a given moment. It embodied, however, the experience of many generations of men in their quest for a system of government in which man should be guaranteed the right to self-rule, and also the right to protection against governmental tyranny.
I think that the finest system of government ever devised by man is the American system of government, and I think that is true because the Constitution is correctly described in a nutshell in the statement made by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in Texas v. White. He said in that case, "The Constitution, in all of its provisions, looks to an indestructible union composed of indestructible States."
I think if we were to destroy the States we would destroy our Constitutional system of government and do the greatest injury to the cause of good government that could possibly be done.
The States are in jeopardy at this time, I think, for several reasons. The first reason is that those who seek to impose their will upon others in governmental matters would prefer to deal with one government only, namely, the Federal Government.
They do not like to deal with 50 State governments and the Federal Government, in addition.
They realize that if they can immobilize State government and control the Federal Government, they can control all of the government.
Now, this would have a very bad effect, if it were to be accomplished. I think one of the great values of our system of government, which separates the powers of government between the National Government and State government, lies in the fact that it affords us 50 laboratories in the States for governmental experiments.
A State can experiment with an innovation in government or economics and if it turns out bad it doesn't affect us governmentally speaking or economically speaking except in one limited area.
If it turns out good then it can be adopted in the other States.
But if the Federal Government indulges in an experiment which has tragic consequences, it affects us tragically at all levels.
Then there is another thing of a detrimental character in shifting all responsibility of government from a State level to a National level, and that is that such action relieves the people of a sense of responsibility at the local level. One of the things about democracy which is essential if democracy is to endure is a sense of responsibility in individuals at local levels.
Someone has said that the saddest epitaph that can be written on the loss of any right is that those who had the saving power failed to stretch forth a saving hand while there was yet time. I think one of the finest things that this subcommittee can do is to take steps which will preserve the Federal system of government with its division of powers between National and State levels.
This thing goes far beyond merely governmental things. It goes to the personality of the people of the United States.
A member of the Supreme Court of the United States whom I admired very much was Justice Brandeis. Justice Brandeis is said by Judge Learned Hand to have made this statement, "The State is the only breakwater against the ever-pounding surf which threatens to submerge the individual and destroy the only society in which personality can exist."
I think there is more than a modicum of truth in that statement. Whenever you shift all responsibility of government from the States to the national level, you destroy the only society in which personality really can exist. You are certainly impressed by the truth of this observation when you try to deal with some of these overgrown Federal agencies.
I recognize there is a great deal of difficulty in local self-government and particularly in the cities due to the fact that the Federal Government monopolizes the sources of taxation which yield the taxes most easily collected. I think that one of the finest contributions which this subcommittee can make is to see if we can't devise some method by which we can prove that Aesop was not thinking of the Federal Government when he told the story about the lion.
He said that the lion invited another animal to visit him in his cave. The animal said, "I am not coming because I notice that all tracks lead into your cave and none lead out."
Now that is certainly a parable about the system of taxation which prevails in this country. I think this is a field in which something drastic has got to be done in order to give to the States and the local communities more sources of taxation than they now enjoy. The alternative is to have them continue to do what they have been doing with increasing frequency; and that is, to come to Uncle Sam to beg for a little more of the patrimony which he has taken from them.
These are just some random observations. As a consequence of knowledge gained from my service with him in the Senate, I know the subcommittee has an excellent chairman, a very devoted American, who has participated with great distinction in government at several levels. I think it is most fortunate that the Senator from Maine is chairman.
I will say a word about my friend from South Dakota who has just left. He comes from an area where, like my own State, there are still some folks who believe that a federal System of government ought to be preserved and that really and truly the Constitution was designed to create an indestructible union composed of indestructible States.