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Philosophy, Congress, Federalism This Is

Never the twain shall meet would be an appropriate descriptive. The prime example of this form of federalism is the U.S. government during the late 1700s through the early 1900s. With “dual” federalism, both separate and shared powers are present.

Marble-cake (or co-operative) federalism is “one big happy family” federalism. Co-operation between state and federal government is its signature. The two levels of government are actually one big government, interwoven and pursuing the same goals together. Crime reduction, better education for our children, and global warming are issues that both state and federal levels would be working on together with the same sense of accomplishment. Co-operative federalism became prominent in government between roughly 1930-1960.

As a matter of fact, under the original dual federalism during the early years of our country, each state that came into the Union was offered a “partnership” with the federal government. Every state knew what they were getting into. The federal government could declare war, coin money, control immigration, sign treaties, appoint ambassadors, interpret laws, and control interstate commerce. These powers were granted to the federal government by the Constitution, Articles I-IV, and Article VI. Powers granted to the states consisted of passing laws within their territories, controlling health, police, education, marriage, voting requirements, and even trash collection. These were granted by Article IV and the Tenth Amendment.

Shared powers were to levy taxes, create courts, and to create laws for the general welfare. These joint powers were based in the Tenth Amendment.

After the Civil War, the federal government began to exercise its own rights separate from the states with its newly gained momentum and responsibilities gained from winning the war. The layered-cake form of dual federalism came forth with both federal government and states operating independently but the federal government trying to retain control. This increasingly layered-federalism held until 1930, when, with FDR and the New Deal, brought us out of the Depression through the use of numerous federal programs that he delivered to the states for employment. It was an era of cooperation. With WWII and the Korean War, that era of cooperation continued.

Today, in the U.S. we are closer to dual — modified layered cake — federalism. However, for now, it is a devolving fiscal federalism as well. That is, the federal and state powers are separate as spelled out above. However, more fiscal responsibility is being “devolved” or delegated back to the states which are closer to the economic problems they face. The federal government is giving billions of dollars back to the states to cover programs and budget deficits..

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