The Costs of Government

Max. M Edling

in A Revolution in Favor of Government

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780195148701
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835096 | DOI:
The Costs of Government

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Presents the Antifederalist objections to a stronger national government in the “fiscal‐military” sphere, with this chapter looking closely at Antifederalist objections to the federal fiscal powers of the US Constitution, and the answers of the Federalists to these. Only rarely did the Antifederalists raise any objections to the right of Congress to borrow money, but the fact that they seemed to accept that public borrowing might sometimes be necessary did not mean that they accepted the need for an unlimited federal power over taxation. In their opposition to the Constitution's tax clauses, the Antifederalists continued an Anglo‐American political tradition of opposition against state growth that in turn is but an instant of a universal resistance to the centralization of power characteristic of early modern Europe. The Antifederalist opposition centered on the future role of the state legislatures: in Antifederalist thought the state assembly had come to take on the function filled by the House of Commons in English “Country” thought, so it was regarded as a crucial barrier against government abuse and as the only institution that made possible taxation with the consent of the governed.

Keywords: Antifederalism; centralization of power; consensual taxation; Country thought; Federalism; fiscal powers; public borrowing; state assembly; state legislatures; taxation; US Congress; US Constitution; USA; unlimited taxation

Chapter.  7913 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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