Federalism has always been an issue for the USA since 228 years ago, when we were declared a nation. Federalism is having two or more governments rule over the citizens of a country. A decentralized government is where the states govern the people, and a centralized government is where there is a national government to rule all the states. Each one leaves little power for the other.
The Articles of Confederation left many examples of how the USA started with a decentralized government. It made sure to leave almost no power to the central government. In fact, one article says states are supreme within their borders over government rule. The national government could only coordinate, not control. Another issue with the Articles of Confederation was that the national government did not have the authority to tax the states, which would have caused numerous problems with future technology.The Articles of Confederation were also very hard to change. Each state had one vote in Congress, regardless of population, and a change in the Articles of Confederation would only be passed if the votes were unanimous. If one of the 13 states had a difference of opinion, it could prevent any laws from being passed.
After many problems with this, the founders of the USA came up with the Constitution, after being influenced by the two social contract theories (one stating that people work together and will agree, and the other saying the government can be replaced) and the idea of breaking the government into three separate branches. To fix the problem of the states having supreme rule, they stated that the Constitution was supreme, so that the national laws were above state laws. When they saw a problem with the way it was almost impossible to create new laws, they created the checks and balances system. When amending the Constitution, it can be passed with 2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures approving the amendment. In the Articles of Confederation, the amendment could have never been passed because one state would not go for it. Also, they gave Congress enumerated powers in Article I of the Constitution, which gave Congress the power to tax, fixing the mistake in the Articles of Confederation.
A lot of people believe federalism is still an issue even today. One example of this is when welfare was created. Since the Great Depression, the national government has paid for Social Security, Medicaid, and other helpful programs for the needy, who could not survive without them. However, it was interpreted by the Supreme Court that welfare would be paid for by the states. One reason those who say welfare was passed on to be paid for by the states was the reputation the people who received welfare had gotten. Some examples of characteristics associated with welfare would be those who become pregnant out of wedlock and those whose fathers don't pay child support, which can cause the mothers to go elsewhere for money. But which government's responsibility should it be; state or national? The government pays for almost all other helpful programs (which cost tens of billions each year), while welfare only costs about $2 billion each year (the total cost of welfare with all states put together). This issue makes our country's federalism policy a little confusing.
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