The U.S. Constitution explicitly establishes branches of the government with their purposes and powers. The Constitution has primarily the function of establishing the government and its three distinct branches: executive, legislative, and judicial and outlining the system of separation of powers and checks and balances that limit the power of anyone branch. The second function of the Constitution is to create the division of power between the federal and state governments. The division of authority known as federalism limits the federal powers to those delegated in the Constitution such as regulating commerce, set taxing, national spending, and foreign policy or declaration of war. Those powers not enumerated in the Constitution were meant to be addressed by the states, however legally federal powers have seen broad interpretation and the supremacy clause of the Constitution does place federal law over state law (Whitehouse.gov., n.d.).
One of the powers given to the federal government, Congress in particular is financial powers. The Constitution provides Congress with exclusive authority on various financial and budgetary aspects at the national scale, including enumerated power to create and collect taxes, duties, and excises, pay debts, and fund national projects, defense, and other appropriations. These powers are given by the commerce clause, the Appropriations Clause, and others (Smith, n.d.). In one perspective, this is an appropriate avenue since taxes, spending, and other financial activities can be evaluated in committees, debated, and passed if the majority agrees. It also gives Congress another check on government since it is Congress which must fund the executive branch and many of their operations, including potentially that of executive orders and agency function. On the other hand, modern times have shown this to be oftentimes ineffective. Due to partisanship, funding for various crucial national and state projects or programs can be stalled due to political disagreements. The exclusive power placed in Congress creates no other alternatives when there is a government shutdown for example, or the political parties cannot agree on a stimulus bill as is ongoing currently. Meanwhile, states determine their budgets locally, with financing for public or national projects or services coming from Congress.
Smith, K. (n.d.). Appropriations clause. Web.
Whitehouse.gov. (n.d.). State and local government. Web.