Mr. McCormack American Government Central Dauphin High School Chapter Eleven – Powers of Congress I. The Scope of Congressional Powers A. Although the federal government does many things, the powers of Congress are limited 1. The Constitution grants only certain powers to Congress 2. The Constitution reserves all other powers to the states or to the people 3. The Constitution (especially its amendments) prohibits Congress from exercising its powers in certain ways B. Congressional powers can be separated into three classes 1. Expressed powers – specifically mentioned in the Constitution 2. Implied powers – reasonably deduced from the text of the Constitution 3. Inherent powers – those powers held by all sovereign states C. The full range of the implied powers depends upon Constitutional interpretation 1. Strict Constructionism a. Intellectual heirs of the Anti-Federalists and Thomas Jefferson b. Limit Congress to expressed powers and only those implied powers that are absolutely necessary c. Believed that the states were better suited to govern than was the national government 2. Liberal Constructionism a. Intellectual heirs of the Federalists and Alexander Hamilton b. Broadly interpret the implied powers to give Congress the widest possible discretion 3. Liberal Constructionism has prevailed more often than not throughout history, so that the federal government’s powers today are far beyond anything the original Federalists would have imagined II. The Expressed Powers of Money and Commerce A. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution contains most of the expressed powers of Congress 1. Twenty-seven expressed powers in eighteen separate clauses 2. The short phrases of this section are often subject to expansive interpretations B. The Power to Tax 1. A tax is a charge levied by government on persons or property to raise money for public use 2. Taxes can also be levied for reasons other than raising revenue a. Taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, and other “vices” discourage bad behavior b. Taxes on imports help to foster domestic industries c. Licenses (and fees) are required before you can perform certain services 3. About ninety-five percent of federal revenue comes from taxes 4. The Article of Confederation had not given Congress the power to tax, and this was viewed as a fatal flaw of that government 5. The power to tax is limited by the other provisions of the Constitution a. Taxes must be for public purposes (“general welfare”), not for private benefit b. Congress may not tax exports c. Direct taxes other than income taxes must be apportioned among the states based on population d. Indirect taxes (such as import duties) must be uniform throughout the United States e. Taxes can not be charged in a way that violates individual rights C. The Borrowing Power 1. Article I, Section 8, Clause 2 gives Congress the power to borrow money 2. There is no constitutional limit on the amount of or purpose for borrowing a. Congress does set statutory limits on the amount that may be borrowed b. Congress has always raised the statutory limit whenever it was in danger of being met
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- Fall '17