The Bush administration has proposed turning at least six existing federal programs serving low-income families—Medicaid, housing, workforce development, child protection, transportation, and Head Start—into block grants or something similar, which brings the longstanding issues of federalism and devolution to the forefront. At the same time, the administration has proposed “superwaivers,” which would give states authority to streamline certain federal programs and waive program rules. As Congress considers reauthorization of the 1996 welfare reform bill, superwaivers and the authority for five states to block-grant food stamps are part of the debate.
The Brookings Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy and the Welfare Reform & Beyond Initiative sponsored a public forum to discuss the block grant proposals and the broader issues related to the changing relationship between federal, state, and local governments, and the trade-offs between flexibility and funding certainty. The forum included policymakers, researchers, and policy experts.
ISABEL V. SAWHILL, Vice President and Director, Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution
PANEL ONE: FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL PERSPECTIVES
JUAN WILLIAMS, Correspondent, National Public Radio
U.S. SEN. JIM TALENT (R-Mo.)
MARGY WALLER Visiting Fellow, Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, The Brookings Institution
JACK TWEEDIE National Conference of State Legislatures
PANEL TWO: RESEARCHERS AND SCHOLARS
ANDREA KANE, Nonresident Fellow, The Brookings Institution
ROBERT GREENSTEIN Executive Director, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
PIETRO NIVOLA Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution
ROBERT RECTOR Senior Research Fellow, Domestic Policy Studies, Heritage Foundation
PANEL THREE: POLICY EXPERTS
RON HASKINS, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
WADE HORN Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, HHS
BARBARA SARD Director of Housing Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
ALAN WEIL Director, Assessing the New Federalism, The Urban Institute
FRED WULCZYN Research Fellow, Chapin Hall Center for Children
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