Do we have an adequate balance of power between the national and state governments today? What are some of the federalism issues raised by the recently passed health care reform act and how do they...

Do we have an adequate balance of power between the national and state governments today?

What are some of the federalism issues raised by the recently passed health care reform act and how do they affect our privacy ?

How do dual, cooperative and fiscal federalism affect the power relationship between the national and state governments?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The issue of whether we have an adequate balance between federal and state governmental powers is a matter of personal opinion.  People from different parts of the political spectrum have different attitudes on this issue and they can feel differently about it depending on the specifics of the situation.  Let us examine this with reference to your other two questions.

For most of the 20th century, power swung away from the states and towards the federal government.  We moved farther away from dual federalism (in which states had relatively more power) as the century went along.  We came to have a system of cooperative or “marble cake” federalism in which the federal government was able to exert power in many areas that had previously been left to the states.  This type of federalism includes fiscal federalism in which the national government gives money to the states but places conditions on that money.  This gives the federal government more power.  As an example of this, the state of Washington recently lost some of its federal educational aid for failing to use student test scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness.   There have been some moves towards giving the states more power (particularly since Ronald Reagan became president in 1981), but for the most part the federal government has more power than it did in the early 20th century.

We can see some of this in the “Obamacare” program.  In that program, the federal government requires that everyone buy health insurance.  Some people think that this is an excessive use of government power.  They think that the federal government should not be able to tell people in the various states what to do with their money.  They feel that this is an example of how the federal government still has too much power.

Different people feel differently about federalism.  For the most part, conservatives want states to have more power while liberals put more trust in the federal government.  However, this can be reversed on some topics.  For example, liberals are more likely to want to honor state powers when states do things like legalizing marijuana even though it is illegal on the federal level.  The issue of whether we have a good balance between the two levels of government is a matter of political/personal opinion.

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mohsinjojoma's profile pic

mohsinjojoma | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

International affairs, defense and upholding the constitution is the federal government's responsibilities. Everything else is left to the states. 
Seems the federal government is wanting to do everything else except what it was established to do, and the states are the ones pushing for the upholding of the constitution. 
I guess you can call it a backward balancing.

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