Christopher F. Koller
President of the
Milbank Memorial Fund
State and Federal Relationships: Always Negotiating
The hip-hop Broadway musical about Alexander Hamilton’s life may be the hottest ticket in town, but Hamilton’s well-known advocacy for a strong national government is not getting much love on the campaign trail or in political discourse. The views of his perennial foe, James Madison, are faring much better. Dwelling on the tyranny and incompetence of the federal government is all the rage—whether the topic is the Affordable Care Act or firearm violence.
This centuries-old debate was on my mind last month when our Reforming States Group (RSG) Steering Committee met for two days in Washington, DC. The bipartisan group of state legislators and executive branch officials met and had informal discussions with two different sets of senior federal administration officials from across the spectrum of health and human services. It was a setup for a showdown. If there is one thing Republicans and Democrats from the states can agree on, it is the agony of dealing with federal officials.