Unfunded mandates

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Unfunded mandates are those programs where the Congress requires the states to spend money for which the Congress itself has not provided funding. The kicker is that Congress requires the states to find such funding if they wish to keep other Federal funding, e.g., Federal highway funding.

Unfunded mandates are bitterly and bipartisanly resented by the legislatures of the several states. They are a way for Congress to claim they have not raised taxes or have otherwise exercised budgetary restraint when in fact they have shifted costs to the states, often compelling state tax increases.

Since 2001, the Republican-controlled Congress, lead by President George W. Bush, have enthusiastically increased unfundated mandates. Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative Jim Nussle (both from Iowa), through their committee chairmanships, bear a particular onus for the increase in these mandates.

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