The concentration of regulatory power in the federal government over the last 100 years has raised numerous concerns related to efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability. Measuring variation in regulations provides a perspective on American federalism that can not be captured in other standard measures.
Citizen attitudes toward the American federal system have changed over time. The Public Opinion Dashboard tracks key indicators including trust, power, efficiency, and accountability at different levels of government.
What do Americans know about the American federal system? Considering the importance of civic knowledge in evaluating the health of the federal system, this dashboard attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of existing research on how well Americans know their own federal system. Initial research suggests that Constitutional literacy in federalism studies is low, compared to Constitutional literacy in other areas.
Federalism Committees by State
Federalism Committees provide states an opportunity to enhance dialogue, examine boundaries and roles regarding federal-state relations, as well as strive for a proper balance in our federal system. It is interesting to note that these committees are not specific to a particular region or political party - showing that federalism is a topic that is relevant to a wide range of people.
Americans have debated centralization versus state autonomy since the founding era. Yet, there are relatively few empirical analyses of the extent, nature, duration, and magnitude of centralization over time. Measuring "power shifts" empirically is a first step in understanding how our current American federal system works and how power has shifted across policy dimensions from the founding to today.
Federal and State Lands
The federal government owns more than 640 million acres of land; roughly 28% of the total land area in the United States. Measurement of regional distribution and changes over time will help users clarify and better understand various debates related to federal and state land management.
Less well appreciated is how the federal taxing power raises federal concerns through its expansive use of the taxing power. Federal taxation can "crowd out" state regulation of major policy areas, limit policy diversity, and reduce regulatory competition.
The migration of power from Congress to the Executive branch affects the federal balance in significant ways. Recent studies also show that the politics of statehouses are not local, but increasingly dominated by the popularity and power of the US President.
Grants to States
The federal government is expected to issue more than $750 billion in grants in FY2019. Federal grants to states have allowed the federal government to become a powerful influence in major policy areas where it has no previous involvement.
Over time, the federal government has used its broad spending power to enlist states in achieving national goals, thus expanding the federal government's reach beyond areas enumerated for it in the US Constitution.
Federal agencies play an increasingly prominent role in the American federal system, leading some to suggest that longstanding checks and balances are being threatened by a "fourth branch" of the US government.
Federalism and the Supreme Court
Supreme Court review of state and national law is commonly regarded as vital to the protection of federalism. Empirical research of federalism jurisprudence can help state leaders and educators understand and identify trends and determinants of federalism decisions in recent years.