Brands of Federalism

Many ways to define national and state powers.

Trying to understand and recall all the different terms that define the flow of federal money that goes back to the states, and the evolving trend of where the authority lies can be daunting.  This table of terms will hopefully assist you in mastering these terms that define the different arrangements within federalism. Review these definitions, consider your knowledge of American government and politics, and answer the questions that follow.

Dual Federalism National and State governments remain supreme in their own spheres, a Supreme Court doctrine common from Civil War until the New Deal

Cooperative Federalism

the intermingled relationship among the national, state, and local  governments to deliver services to citizens
Fiscal Federalism the pattern of taxing, spending, and providing federal grants to state and local governments
New Federalism A return to more distinct lines of responsibility for federal and state governments begun by President Ronald Reagan
Revenue Sharing A policy under Fiscal Federalism that requires both national and local funds for programs
Devolution The continued effort to return original reserved powers to the states
Questions for Understanding:

1.  What is the key difference between fiscal federalism and revenue sharing?

2.  Why might someone advocate for devolution in place of cooperative federalism?  For example, many conservatives have pushed for greater devolution in the field of K-12 education.

3. Select any two types of federalism and find an example to illustrate this definition or trend.


Photo/Image: “Highway 404 & Highway 401” by Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, licensed under CC0 1.0