Dr. Demartino was interviewed by John S Kiernan in his article about state’s federal dependence.
“Should Federal resources be allocated to states according to how much they pay in federal taxes or should some states subsidize others?
A key piece of the social contract that unifies a democratic country like the U.S. entails shifting resources to places where the need is greatest and the purpose is most pressing. We see this most dramatically in the wake of natural disasters, but in fact it is normal, appropriate pattern in any civilized society.
What programs should be state/local responsibility and what should be a federal responsibility?
There is no fixed answer to this question. Some things are handled adequately at the local, state, or national level for long periods of time – an then, circumstances change, such that the same functions need to be centralized. When most pollution sources had only local effects, for instance, it might have been appropriate for pollution regulation to occur primarily at the local and state level. Now that so many pollutants have national and even global effects, minimum environmental standards need to be set and enforced a the national, and even international levels. This shouldn’t preclude local jurisdictions (like states) from raising their standards above those minima – it requires only that national government takes the lead in regulating pollutants with wide impacts. The same can be said of labor rights protections. In the wake of economic globalization with increasing international trade and investment, labor rights now need to be harmonized across national borders.
What is the fairest way to redistribute federal resources back to the states?
Policies that ensure that all citizens are entitled to basic protections, paid for by income taxes. A single-payer health care system, for instance, can achieve this. The issue isn’t “should New York subsidize Louisiana?” The issue is, should all residents of the country be provided with access to those goods and services that are fundamental to living a good human life, regardless of where they live?
Will the new tax code have a positive impact on the economy?
The new tax code is apt to provide a short-term bump in economic activity at a time when we don’t need further stimulus, but at the expense of long-term economic problems, such as rising inequality and fiscal cutbacks that will be proposed to pay for the rising deficit in the years ahead.”