- The Federal Power to Tax
The federal power to tax is outlined clearly in The Taxing and Spending Clause - Article 1, section 8, clause 1: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States” (I.8.i). In essence, in order to pay for needed services and infrastructure provided by the federal government, the government exercises a right to take certain amounts of money from its citizens, either determined by percentages or discrete amounts. This is done in order to allow for a public investment in the well-being of the country as a whole, allowing the raising of revenue in order to conduct business as a nation (Schultz, 2014, pp. 116-133).
- The Federal Right to Mint Coins
The Coinage Clause of the US Constitution is in Article 1, section 8, clause 5: “The Congress shall have power . . . To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures” (I.8.v). In this particular instance, the federal government is granted the right to create its own currency, by which people can have a regulated means of trading and spending. This allows a concrete, stabilized economy within its own nation that it is able to oversee and regulate the values of this currency, as it is being traded between citizens. Congress can determine the value of the coin, and of foreign coin, with the goal of encouraging a common currency that would be applicable across the country (as opposed to the different states’ currency as was the case in the Articles of Confederation) (Schultz, 2014, pp. 134-151).
- Federal Regulation of Trade Among Newly Constituted States
In the Commerce Clause, the federal government is given the right “To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes” (I.8,iii). With the Articles of Confederation, the federal government had no power over its commerce, and so the Commerce Clause was worked into the Constitution in order to prevent discriminatory state legislation, which was rampant during the Articles (Bork & Troy, 2001-2002, pp. 861-867; Schultz, 2014, pp. 116-133). This clause permits the United States to have powers over navigable waters, thus cementing its ability to hold regulatory rights over those who own land in the United States. This placed the commerce of all land and households in the nation under direct control of Congress (Bork & Troy, 2001-2002, pp. 861-867; Colby, 2005, p. 253; Schultz, 2014, pp. 116-133; 152-165).
- Federal Sovereignty Over Foreign Affairs, Treaties, and Tariffs
This same Commerce Clause places the federal government in authority over commerce with foreign nations, and gave it the ability to set tariffs and regulate treaties with said foreign nations. By placing power over foreign commerce, they had the ability to determine how much foreign currency was worth in the United States at an equitable and even level. This also regulated trade with foreign nations as well, allowing the government to have supreme control with how citizens of the United States interacted with foreign economies and businessmen (Bork & Troy, 2001-2002, pp. 868-872; Colby, 2005, pp. 252-253). States would no longer have autonomy when making these dealings, as federal oversight would have to be administered as well. Since the federal government has oversight over domestic dealings, it that it would need oversight in foreign commerce as well (Colby, 2005, pp. 252-253; Schultz, 2014, pp. 152-165).
Bork, R., & Troy, D. (2001-2002). Locating the boundaries: The scope of Congress’s power to regulate commerce. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy , 25, 849-885.
Colby, T. (2005). Revitalizing the forgotten uniformity constraint on the commerce power. Virginia Law Review , 91 (2), 249-346.
Schultz, K. (2014). HIST: Student edition (3rd ed.). Independence, KY: CENGAGE Learning.
U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 1, 5.