Reagan and the Cities

July 23, 1982

Report Outline
Contours of New Urban Policy
Cutbacks of Existing Programs
New Initiative: Enterprise Zones
Special Focus

Contours of New Urban Policy

Reagan's Plans of the Reduced Federal Role

For the last half-century, the federal government has been actively involved in trying to solve the problems of America's cities. Unable to deal effectively with poverty, population growth or loss, increased service demands, shrinking or static tax bases, and unable to gain sympathy from rural- or suburban-dominated state legislatures, the cities in recent decades have turned increasingly to Washington for economic assistance. Despite the hundreds of federal programs, physical and social and economic conditions in many cities, especially the older industrial cities, have become worse.

Many conservatives, including Ronald Reagan, have pronounced the era of large-scale federal assistance a failure, saying that it has done little to help the cities while placing a massive burden on the nation's taxpayers. Supporters of federal urban aid argue that the cities have been the victims of the vicissitudes of the national economy, and would be much worse off without federal assistance.

Two reports released in Washington during a recent three-day period illustrate these profoundly differing visions of the conditions of America's cities and the need for federal aid. On July 9. President Reagan, as required by law, sent to Congress his 1982 National Urban Policy Report, prepared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It stated the administration's intention to continue limiting federal aid to cities and shift responsibility for urban programs from the federal to state and local governments. On July 12, the National League of Cities (NLC) released preliminary results of a survey of 43 cities indicating that the majority are in poor fiscal shape and are unable to absorb the new responsibilities thrust upon them by even the early stages of federal retrenchment.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Urban Planning
Jun. 03, 2022  The Future of the City
Jun. 04, 2021  Rebuilding America's Infrastructure
Aug. 21, 2020  Economic Clustering
Nov. 01, 2019  Caregiving Crunch
Jul. 27, 2012  Smart Cities
Apr. 09, 2010  Earthquake Threat
Apr. 2009  Rapid Urbanization
Jun. 23, 2006  Downtown Renaissance Updated
May 28, 2004  Smart Growth
Oct. 03, 1997  Urban Sprawl in the West
Mar. 21, 1997  Civic Renewal
Oct. 13, 1995  Revitalizing the Cities
Jun. 09, 1989  Not in My Back Yard!
Apr. 28, 1989  Do Enterprise Zones Work?
Nov. 22, 1985  Supercities: Problems of Urban Growth
Jul. 23, 1982  Reagan and the Cities
Nov. 18, 1977  Saving America's Cities
Oct. 31, 1975  Neighborhood Control
Nov. 21, 1973  Future of the City
Feb. 07, 1973  Restrictions on Urban Growth
May 20, 1970  Urbanization of the Earth
Nov. 06, 1968  New Towns
Oct. 04, 1967  Private Enterprise in City Rebuilding
Feb. 10, 1965  Megalopolis: Promise and Problems
Mar. 04, 1964  City Beautiful
Aug. 21, 1963  Urban Renewal Under Fire
Jan. 21, 1959  Metropolitan Areas and the Federal Government
Jul. 30, 1958  Persistence of Slums
Dec. 09, 1953  Outspreading Cities
Nov. 22, 1952  Slum Clearance: 1932–1952
Jan. 14, 1937  Zoning of Urban and Rural Areas
Low Income and Public Housing
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations
Unemployment and Employment Programs