Reflexive calls for Washington to pick up the tab in the wake of Hurricane Sandy underscore one of the greatest shifts of power in American politics during the last four decades: the transition from state and local autonomy to federal subsidy and control. This centralization of government, writes Veronique de Rugy, was made possible largely by grants-in-aid, money provided by the federal government to state and local governments or private parties. They have become the third largest category in the federal budget, trailing only Social Security and national defense.
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