Constitution

Stop Unconstitutional Federal Spending

There has been much controversy over President Trump’s proposed budget and the revision of health care. Much of the proposed spending in Trump’s budget and previous budgets is not supported by the Constitution.

The 2016 federal budget, submitted by Barack Obama, was $4.147 trillion which was 21.5% of GDP and resulted in a deficit for the year of $503 billion. The total federal deficit is almost $20 trillion. Although the President submits or suggests budgets, it is the duty of Congress to appropriate the money. In my opinion, a large part of federal spending is unconstitutional.

The Constitution of the United States grants certain powers to Congress and Executive Branch. Over the years, Congress has greatly exceeded its Constitutional authority. Federal agencies have created thousands of regulations and spent trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money on things for which they had no authority to do so. These regulations have the force of law, but only Congress can make law. There is a movement to change the constitution with a balanced budget amendment. Such an amendment would be unnecessary if only Congress and the President would enforce the Constitution.

Below are the Constitutionally enumerated powers of Congress. Nowhere in this enumeration can I find the authority for the federal government to have Departments of Education, Labor, or Energy. I see no authority for the Environmental Protection Agency, nor the requirement that citizens buy health insurance. Some may also argue that our whole welfare and medical care systems are unconstitutional. And, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.”

The principal authority of Congress is specified in Article I of the Constitution.

Article I, Section 8 : The powers of Congress:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; — And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Other Authority granted to Congress by the Constitution:

Article IV, Section 3, clause 2: “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.”

The 16th Amendment: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

See any justification for Departments of Education, Labor, Energy, or Environmental Protection Agency etc. there? Of course, strictly speaking, there is no justification for Social Security or Medicare either. “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” —James Madison (1792)

The 10th Amendment also limits the powers of Congress: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The Heritage Foundation opines: Those who claim the Department of Education is Constitutional say that it promotes the general welfare of the United States, however, this phrase in the preamble of the Constitution does not grant or prohibit power to Congress, that is not its purpose. The preamble simply describes the Constitution and what the document itself was designed to do, and is not actually a binding decree of the Constitution.

The Department of Education was founded using the preamble as the basis for its Constitutionality, but due to what’s stated above, it is clear that it is not. Thomas Jefferson considered the federal government’s involvement in education to be unconstitutional. In 1862, James Buchanan warned that giving education to Congress would create a vast and irresponsible authority. Both he and Jefferson were right. (Source)

Another type of unconstitutional spending occurs when agencies make unauthorized payments. Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution says in part: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.” That provision was invoked in a lawsuit House of Representatives v. Burwell, which involved reimbursements the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had been paying to insurers to keep out-of-pocket costs artificially low for patients with incomes up to 250 percent of the federal poverty line. Congress refused to appropriate the funds for this scheme, but HHS reimbursed the insurers anyway, whereupon the House sued the Obama administration. The judge ruled that the payment of such reimbursements without congressional authorization “violates the Constitution.” (Source)

The essential idea of the Constitution is that the federal government has limited powers, as stated in the 10th Amendment. It’s time to return to the original meaning of the Constitution and downsize the federal government where it is politically possible to do so. Let each State decide how to handle its own business. States might be more circumspect and accountable to their citizens than is a far-off federal government. (Or, they might become California.)

I’m sure you can think of other instances where the federal government is spending taxpayer money on things not authorized by the Constitution.

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Independence Day and State of the Union 2014

We must remember that our Constitution is not self-enforcing. It will live only as long as the principles remain in our hearts and minds, and we continue to act on those principles.

During a sultry July 238 years ago a group of 56 men–among them doctors, educators, and clergy–aged 26 to 70, signed The Unanimous Declaration of the United States of America, a then treasonous document that would break the bonds between the 13 colonies and Mother England.

The fortunes of those 56 men was varied. Nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were jailed and brutally treated. One lost all 13 of his children; and the wives, sons and daughters of others were killed, imprisoned, harassed or deprived of all material possessions. Seventeen signers lost everything they owned, and all were hunted as traitors, with most separated from home and family. But none of the signers ever betrayed his pledged word. There were no defectors. No one changed his mind. Lives and fortunes were lost, but their sacred honor was never sacrificed.
The signing of the Declaration would pit a poorly equipped and badly trained militia of 10,000 men against an armada of British ships with 42,000 sailors and the British army.

The reasons for the break with Britain were laid out beginning with this basic principle:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Freedom was not free for those Colonial patriots who committed treason 238 years ago. Nor is it free today. But the further removed generations are from that two-centuries-old insubordination and the ensuing conflagration, the dimmer the magnitude of their dedication and sacrifice. In the comfort and security of freedom we are complacent; we take that great gift for granted.

Now we find ourselves in similar bonds of slavery as those who declared independence from England two centuries ago. We find the right to life, liberty and property threatened, not by an absent king, but by an increasing almighty and ever-present government; a government that has “erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

In the “Seven Principles of Animalism” in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, those in power deliberately, letter by letter, smeared and blurred and eventually erased the seven original principles. The animals shook their heads and rubbed their eyes in astonishment and incredulity at the changes, but in the end were convinced that only one Principle had ever existed. It read, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Today we rub our eyes and shake our heads in astonishment and incredulity. . .

-that Politicians who wanted a means of legal plunder have changed the meaning of “welfare” from “the state of faring well” to “the redistribution of wealth.”

-that Freedom of religion and speech and the press have mutated to abolition of religion, politically correct speech, and an advocacy press.

-that “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” has metamorphosed into a protection for criminals–who acquire their guns on the black market–while law-abiding citizens are having them stripped away.

-that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” has been trampled by governmental agencies that trespass on private land in search of endangered species which are used to confiscate the land and a government that electronically spies on our every communication.

-that State Powers have been appropriated by the Federal Government via legislation, executive order and bureaucratic regulation.

In the song, “God Bless the USA,” Lee Greenwood sings, “the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” Every new regulation takes freedoms away. Every new bureaucracy takes freedoms away. Every new government intrusion takes freedoms away.

The Declaration provided a list of grievances against King George. In one form or another, many of those grievances can be applied to our current federal bureaucracy which has become bloated and dictatorial. For instance:

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

Think of the junk science-based green zealotry of the EPA and their regulatory war on energy production. Or, think of the Fish & Wildlife Service using the Endangered Species Act to crush economic development and private property rights. Does the IRS come to mind? We have a proliferation of federal agencies, each filled with unelected bureaucrats, who together produce tens of thousands of pages of regulations each year, many of which “harass our people and eat out their substance.” That is a long way from the sixty small pages in my little red book. Congress, too, shares the blame. Much of what should be done legislatively has been turned over to regulatory agencies. In spite of pompous declarations, the era of big government is not over, and in fact government continues to grow bigger and more distant from the founding principles and the people.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws ….

Our current President seems to rule by executive order and decree, deliberately bypassing Congress and proper legal authority. A headline in the Arizona Daily Star: “In 2012, Obama to press ahead without Congress.” Papers and emails necessary to legal investigations become mysteriously lost and words are parsed beyond common sense. Promises to “Put people first” and to run “the most ethical administration ever” or to have the “most transparent administration ever ” have turned out just the opposite.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation….

Biodiversity programs, World Heritage sites, Man and the Biosphere, Ramsar Convention, Kyoto Protocal, Border 21, Agenda 21, and gun control, are all United Nations programs or their offshoots which directly affect private property and national sovereignty. Even the Endangered Species Act is based on international treaties. Add to this questionable military adventures of little import to our national interest.

Remember, as John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote: “The people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their own will, and lives only by their will.” Do we still have the will to uphold our basic principles and preserve our unalienable rights, or will we allow the “gradual and silent encroachments” to destroy our great experiment?

Our Americanism and our Constitution are on the endangered species list, and it’s time to reclaim both.

Reclaiming Americanism and the Constitution

Just what was it that led a group of 56 men–among them doctors, educators, and clergy–aged 26 to 70, to sign a treasonous document that would break the bonds between the 13 colonies and Mother England? It wasn’t wealth. It wasn’t fame. It wasn’t glory.

On the contrary, disaster and ruin were the lot of many of the signers. Nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were jailed and brutally treated. One lost all 13 of his children; and the wives, sons and daughters of others were killed, imprisoned, harassed or deprived of all material possessions. Seventeen signers lost everything they owned, and all were hunted as traitors, with most separated from home and family. But none of the signers ever betrayed his pledged word. There were no defectors. No one changed his mind. Lives and fortunes were lost, but their sacred honor was never sacrificed.

What piece of paper could they have valued so highly that they willingly jeopardized their property, their liberty, their lives? What piece of paper could they have revered so highly that they were willing to pit a poorly equipped and badly trained militia of 10,000 men against an armada of British ships with 42,000 sailors? What piece of paper could they have esteemed so highly that they signed with trembling hand but resolute heart?

That piece of paper was The unanimous Declaration of the United States of America, which said in part:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Freedom was not free for those Colonial patriots who committed treason 236 years ago. Nor is it free today. But the further removed generations are from that two centuries old insubordination and the ensuing conflagration, the dimmer the magnitude of their dedication and sacrifice. In the comfort and security of freedom we are complacent; we take that great gift for granted. Now we find ourselves in similar bonds of slavery as those who declared independence from England two centuries ago. We find the right to life, liberty and property threatened, not by an absent king, but by an increasing almighty and ever-present government; a government that has “erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

In the “Seven Principles of Animalism” in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, those in power deliberately, letter by letter, smeared and blurred and eventually erased the seven original principles. The animals shook their heads and rubbed their eyes in astonishment and incredulity at the changes, but in the end were convinced that only one Principle had ever existed. It read, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Today we rub our eyes and shake our heads in astonishment and incredulity. . .

-that Politicians who wanted a means of legal plunder have changed the meaning of “welfare” from “the state of faring well” to “the redistribution of wealth.”

-that Freedom of religion and speech and the press have mutated to abolition of religion, politically correct speech, and an advocacy press.

-that “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” has metamorphosed into a protection for criminals–who acquire their guns on the black market–while law-abiding citizens are having them stripped away.

-that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” has been trampled by governmental agencies that trespass on private land in search of endangered species which are used to confiscate the land.

-that State Powers have been appropriated by the Federal Government via legislation, executive order and bureaucratic regulation.
-and that as State Powers have been usurped, so is American sovereignty threatened by the United Nations.

In the song, “God Bless the USA,” Lee Greenwood says, “the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” Every new regulation takes freedoms away. Every new bureaucracy takes freedoms away. Every new government intrusion takes freedoms away. Our Americanism and our Constitution are on the endangered species list, and it’s time to reclaim both.

This essay was written by Sara Jo DuHamel, a teacher and patriot, who passed away in 1998 from breast cancer.

See also:

Personal Responsibility and Independence

Freedom, Morality, and Ignorance

The Contract with America the story of the Constitution

 

Note to the Next Congress

Whatever the outcome of today’s election, Congress members, and even you soon-to-be “lame ducks” should consider why public opinion of Congress is at an all-time low. I have some suggestions.

1) Read the Constitution, too many of you are ignorant of what it says or ignore what it says. Check especially Article I, Section 8.

2) Read and understand the implications of all bills before you vote on them. Remember who you work for.

3) Reduce spending and the deficit by sticking to your Constitutional mandate.

4) Stop subsidizing “green energy.” It is too expensive and uses funds that could be put to more productive use. For instance, for electrical generation, the EIA calculated costs in dollars per megawatthour as follows: Conventional coal power: $100.40; Natural gas: $83.10; Nuclear: $119.00; Onshore wind power: $149.30; Offshore wind power: $191.10; Thermal solar power: $256.60, Photo-voltaic solar power: $396.10.

5) Remove restrictions to natural resource development. The U.S. must re-industrialize and use our own natural resources. Currently 80% of GDP is in service industries rather than manufacturing which means we redistribute wealth rather than create it.

6) Repeal “Obamacare.” It is too complicated and too expensive. Base health care insurance on the HMO concept for Medicare/Medicaid recipients. Allow insurance companies to compete nationally, and remove all plan restrictions on client choice of healthcare providers. All plans should contain a menu of coverage choices, and if people want more than the subsidized coverage, then they pay the extra premium. Allow similar plans for younger people, to be paid by the client. Remember the concept of basic insurance is to pay for unaffordable expenses.

7) Get real on climate change. There is nothing you can do about it. Mother Nature ignores legislation. No one, not even the IPCC, has demonstrated a significant cause and effect relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature.

8) Rein in or even eliminate the EPA; it is a den of junk science.

9) Repeal or greatly modify the Endangered Species Act; it provides no positive incentive for conservation, it tramples on property rights, it destroys industries, it is very expensive, and it is ineffective. (See my analysis: Repeal the Endangered Species Act.

10) Restore the “Bush” tax cuts.

11) Go through every federal agency to eliminate wasteful spending and fraud.

12) Secure our borders from illegal entry and smuggling, and provide a realistic, monitored system for temporary workers.

It is the responsibility of each member of Congress to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Do your duty.

The Contract with America

By 1787, just four years after the conclusion of the War for Independence, the American states and their fledgling union were in trouble. The British still menaced from their lair in Canada; Spain was encroaching on the southwest and threatened to prohibit use of the Mississippi River for trade. American states were blocked from lucrative markets in the British-controlled West Indies. Individual states set up their own tariffs and treaties. The union under the Articles of Confederation was failing because the federal government had no power to enforce its laws. But the chief problem was money. The only hard currency was foreign, and it was scarce.

Both the national government and individual states had outstanding IOUs for expenses accrued during the war. Individual states issued paper money which soon became devalued. Many people were thrown into debtors prison because they didn’t have the hard currency to pay taxes and other expenses. Things came to a head when Massachusetts imposed a harsh tax to pay its debts. People were hard pressed to pay these taxes. Bands of farmers under the leadership of Daniel Shays closed courts, prohibited sheriffs from collecting taxes, and, when the Massachusetts militia came after them, attacked the arsenal at Springfield. Shays’ insurgents lost that battle, but latter gained much through more lawful methods. The incident, however, had a profound effect on people and the nation. As a result, the Continental Congress called for a constitutional convention to convene in Philadelphia on May 14th.

Fifty-five delegates from 12 of the 13 states met during that sultry summer of 1787. (Rhode Island refused to participate.) Most delegates were veterans of the revolution, members of state legislatures or the Continental Congress. Most were wealthy businessmen, lawyers, judges or politicians, who had considerable experience in writing laws and constitutions within their own states. Most were well educated in the classics at colleges or through self-study, but there were some scoundrels as well.

Small states were fearful they would not have adequate representation in a new government. Large states were resentful that under the Articles of Confederation, each state had just one vote, a situation which was unfair to the population of big states. Some wanted a very strong central government; while others fought passionately for states’ rights. Western interests were at odds with the eastern establishment; rural interests competed with the large population centers; and the North and South were divided over both business and slavery. Given these contrary views, it is remarkable that anything was accomplished in Philadelphia, and several times the convention almost failed. But the delegates had an overriding common concern, the absolute necessity “to form a more perfect union,” and James Madison of Virginia had a plan.

Madison was a “Nationalist”, a supporter of a strong central government, but not as strong as envisioned by Alexander Hamilton. Madison wound up mediating between Hamilton and the strong states rights position such as that held by Thomas Jefferson. Although many of Madison’s specific proposals for the new constitution were not adopted, he did provide the philosophical basis which eventually carried the convention. Madison believed that government should be instituted to protect property, property in the broad sense. He was concerned about government power. He wrote “You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” The government must be powerful enough to govern effectively, but not so powerful as to interfere with the legitimate liberties of the people. Madison envisioned a “national principle” wherein the government would act upon people directly rather than through the states. He promoted a “separation of powers” that would provide checks and balances within the government so that no one branch could, theoretically, gain too much power.

We all know how this story turns out, but how it got to the conclusion it did is a fascinating story. We owe James Madison for this knowledge because he is the only one who kept complete notes. Throughout that long summer, the delegates debated each point, came to conclusions, revisited and revised those conclusions, made and broke alliances and deals.

One of these deals makes an interesting sidelight. The original charters of many states had their territories running all the way to the Mississippi River. Many states ceded their western territories to the national government. But of vital interest was how these lands would be carved up into new states and how these states would be admitted to the union, because new states could upset the balance of power. As it happened, the Continental Congress was meeting in New York at the same time as the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. In New York, Congress was considering the Northwest Ordinance which would determine how states carved from the Northwest Territory would be admitted to the union. In Philadelphia, delegates were debating how black slaves would be counted for the purposes of taxation of their owners, and how they would be counted for purposes of a state’s representation in the new Congress. Three southern delegates disappeared from Philadelphia for several days. When they returned, it was reported that southern states agreed that new states carved out of the Northwest Territory would be admitted as “free” states. In Philadelphia, the delegates made a concession favorable to southern states on the questions mentioned.

Finally it was done. On September 17th, the delegates read through the new Constitution one last time and 40 of the 55 delegates affixed their signatures. When ratified by nine states, it would become law of the land. Now all they had to do was sell it to the states.

And they forgot a bill of rights! Most delegates thought a bill of rights was unnecessary because state constitutions contained such safeguards. But it was this issue that almost sank the Constitution; citizens of the states considered a bill of rights of paramount importance.

To help sell the new constitution, two New York lawyers, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay (later the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), and a Virginia scholar and politician, James Madison, wrote a series of essays which became known as the Federalist Papers. These essays endeavored to justify the decision at Philadelphia and provide a primer to those who would debate ratification in the several states.

Delaware became the first state to ratify the new Constitution on Dec. 7, 1787; New Hampshire became the ninth on June 21, 1788, followed soon by New York and Virginia. North Carolina and Rhode Island refused until a bill of rights was added during the first administration of George Washington.

Our Bill of Rights was modeled after the Virginia Declaration of Rights crafted by George Mason. James Madison led the new Congress in proposing 12 amendments, ten of which became our Bill of Rights, the other two were not adopted. At last, we had a contract with America.

Just after the convention in Philadelphia, Ben Franklin was asked by an observer whether we now had a republic or a monarchy. Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”