There wasn’t much President Joe Biden could have done about this month’s Texas energy disaster. Ditto the slow-moving vaccine rollout. The reason is the same: federalism, a system dating back to the 1780s and only seriously overhauled once.
Although federalism still has some benefits, its obsolescence is increasingly obvious when the U.S. faces crises that, like climate change and COVID-19, don’t respect state boundaries. Energy and health care are only two of the crucial infrastructure systems that remain state-regulated or state-run. And many of those systems are in need of updating everywhere – not piecemeal, as federalism tends to support.