How does Federalism in America Work

Category: Politics
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How it works

Cooperative Federalism in America solidified itself as the main government functionality after the Great Depression. Due to the detriment the Great Depression forced upon American Citizens, it was found necessary by the Federal Gov. to implement the New Deal, which were a series of programs composed and presented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in order to combat the issues of the time, and effectively turned away from the previous Dual Federalism system.  Cooperative Federalism is the system in which the layers of government, while still present, are much less distinct as compared to the layer cake of Dual Federalism, and place more influence in the hands of the National Government. This creates more need on the State level for the National Gov., specifically, financial based need.The most common example of Cooperative Federalism is involved in the principle of Fiscal Federalism, where the States are in need of money, and the National Gov. provides generally in the practice of Grants-In-Aid. Grants-In-Aid are designed to give States concession to fund agriculture, education, and infrastructure, as well as more project-based grants for competitive research and other programs, i.e. water projects and erection of government facilities.

Categorical Grants are probably the ones most familiar to the public, with influence over education and road maintenance, two integral parts of society no matter age or involvement in the government/political landscape. While Fiscal Federalism supplies necessary funding to states for these programs, it also implements the control produced from Coop. Fed., in which that the State is now under the “thumb” of the National Government, because while they have this money, they are now subject to the regulations imposed with it. Commonly, the National Government gives grants to the states in educational need to help build and fund schools and their material needs, as well as upkeep, all in favor of the citizens’ growth and success. But it does not come without two sides, and the state is then accountable to what the National Government wants, at risk of their funding being revoked.

The same is said for another Categorical Grant, road maintenance. States will not continue to receive funding from the National Government t? upkeep highways if they do not bend to the regulations in place. In example, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Highway Safety Act of 1996 gave the National Government responsibility to set and enforce laws of highway and vehicle regulation. This required that guardrails be fashioned in places deemed necessary, that dividers between lanes be stronger, and that traffic lights be more commonplace. This forced the compliance of such laws in exchange for the federal dollars spent on the project, and if the state did not comply, they would see the deterioration of their roadways. Another example was President Nixon’s signing of The National Maximum Speed Law (NMSL), where the Nat. Gov.

enforced a max speed of 55 mph in the face of an energy crisis. Once again, if the states did not comply, they would lose funding for their highway systems, and they would become unsafe and damaged. The aforementioned failure of compliance, and consequences thereby executed upon the states, is one of the reasons states may wish not to have the national gov. involved. One of the aids heavily discussed today, and probably will continue to be an issue brought forward in the future, is the national government’s involvement in education. As described in the lesson, the No Child Left Behind Act is one case where States were placed in the position of having to fund a federal act without support of the government, and many States were then in the position of needing to reject the act and were pushed to rejecting all the federal involvement in state-level education needs.

The heavily discussed issue of “Common Core” today is due to the national government’s engagement with education, and while some are in favor of it, there are plenty arguing against it, and due to that there has been many scalebacks on Common Core and implements of State level policies. Sometimes, it’s of risk to independent thinking to have such centralized control over the next generation and their minds, it’s better to have diversity amongst education, because to teach everyone to think the same is eliminating competition and innovation.Though each case is different, and oftentimes it is necessary the national government gives funding to the smaller state governments. This isn’t to say they deserve such control, and the devolution under the Clinton administration was necessary to maintain the balance between state and federal governments, as the power is derived from the people- from citizens, to state, to national governments.

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How Does Federalism in America Work. (2020, Apr 18). Retrieved from

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