By A. Hadenius
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Extra info for American Exceptionalism Revisited: US Political Development in Comparative Perspective
This is a function, on the one hand, of the share of public activities carried out by the territorial governments, and, on the other, of the degree of autonomy that these organs enjoy. In a highly decentralized federal structure, the regional subunits shoulder a broad range of public responsibilities. They can also perform their duties fairly independently; they are not narrowly constrained by the central authorities in their undertakings. This state of affairs presupposes a considerable degree of sovereignty on the part of the subnational governments, in both policy and fiscal terms.
One might assume that such an enlargement of the central government would have laid the foundation for a model of development in which the federal subunits, the states, play a more and more subdued role. To clarify this we shall now embark on an international exploration, wherein we compare federal-state relations in the United States with those prevailing in other countries with a similar governmental structure. A few things need to be clarified at the outset. The prime characteristic of a federal state is its application of parallel decision-making structures.
To combat the crisis, Roosevelt introduced a massive program of reforms: the New Deal. It featured far-reaching federal activity throughout the economic and social realm. Federal efforts of such magnitude had never been seen and had not even been seriously discussed. The central government, which for a long time had been mostly invisible, was now the vehicle of a broad reform agenda. Public intervention—involving both regulatory measures and economic programs like loans, allowances, and subsidies—affected broad sectors of society.