(FreedomBeacon.com) – The United States has one of the most decentralized governments in the world. The Constitution protects the rights of states by making clear that any power not specifically granted to the federal government belongs to the states; this is our most powerful protection against the government interfering with our rights. But what are the powers the federal government has? Well, there are quite a lot of them.
Manage Money and Trade
- The federal government has the exclusive power to issue currency, regulate its value, and borrow on the credit of the US. It’s also responsible for punishing counterfeiting.
- It also has the exclusive power to regulate trade with other nations, between the states, and with Indian tribes. However, it can’t regulate trade within states – known as intrastate — that power is reserved to the states themselves.
- It can raise money through taxes and excise duties. This isn’t an exclusive power, because the states can set their own taxes and duties, but it’s a major one.
- The federal government can spend money “for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.” This is the justification for lots of entitlement spending.
Security and Law
- The federal government has the power to raise armies and maintain a navy. States can have their own armed forces, for example, the California State Guard, but there are limits on what they can do with them.
- Organizing the militia is also a federal power, which gives Washington a lot of control over the National Guard and some power over state militias. For example, the federal government can activate national or state guards to put down insurrections or resist an invasion.
- Only the federal government can declare war or deploy armed forces overseas.
- The federal government has the sole power to punish “Piracies and Felonies committed on the high seas” or violations of international law.
- The Supreme Court is mandated by the Constitution, but the federal government can constitute other courts as long as they’re subordinate to SCOTUS.
Citizenship And Liberty
- The citizenship status of people born in the US is defined by the Constitution, but the federal government has the power to set uniform naturalization laws for the whole country.
- Since the 1950s, the federal government has started limiting state powers around freedom of speech, due process and equal protection under the law. The effect is to take control of voting requirements away from the states.
- It also has the power to regulate uniform national bankruptcy laws.
While the federal government’s powers are still limited by the Constitution, they’ve steadily become more pervasive over the years thanks to social and economic changes on top of broad interpretations by the Supreme Court. The balance between Washington and the states is swinging, and only the people can swing it back – if we elect the right politicians.
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