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.


The Real State of the Union – 2014

After five years of Obama’s ideologically-driven policy and incompetence:


The deficit for fiscal year 2013 was “only” $973 billion. The total U.S. national debt is $17.3 trillion as of January 30, 2014.

Some other Obama numbers (from Mark Alexander, Patriot Post):

10.4 million: Americans unemployed – not counting three million more Americans who have given up looking for work.

7.8 million: Americans working part-time who would like to work full-time.

46%: 18- to 34-year-old Americans unemployed under Obama (many of whom voted for him).

63%: Labor force participation rate as of January 2014 under Obama.

1978: The last time the labor force participation rate was this low.

46.5 million: Americans now living in poverty by U.S. standards.

6.7 million: Americans who have fallen into poverty under Obama.

47.6 million: Americans receiving food stamps.

19.4 million: Americans added to food stamp rolls under Obama.

$3,827: Decline in median household income under Obama.

721,000: Construction jobs lost under Obama.

528,000: Manufacturing jobs lost under Obama.

44%: Recent college graduates in jobs that do not require a college degree.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has just released it annual report on government regulation and spending.

Highlights of the report:

• Total costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.806 trillion in 2012. For the first time, this amounts to more than half of total federal spending. It is more than the GDPs of Canada or Mexico.

• This is the 20th anniversary of Ten Thousand Commandments. In the 20 years of publication, 81,883 final rules have been issued. That’s more than 3,500 per year or about nine per day.

• The Anti-Democracy Index – the ratio of regulations issued to laws passed by Congress and signed by the president – stood at 29 for 2012. That’s 127 new laws and 3,708 new rules – or a new rule every 2 ½ hours.

• Regulatory costs amount to $14,678 per family – 23 percent of the average household income of $63,685 and 30 percent of the expenditure budget of $49,705 and more than receipts from corporate and personal income taxes combined.

• Combined with $3.53 trillion in federal spending, Washington’s share of the economy now reaches 34.4 percent. Read full report here.

The roll-out of Obamacare caused and will continue to cause great disruption. Officially called the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” we are finding that it does neither. People are finding it unaffordable and are losing their doctors. The Act itself contains more than 2,500 pages and 500,000 words (the U.S. Constitution contains about 4,500 words). Since Obamacare passed, various agencies of government have issued more than 70,000 pages of regulations and guidance to implement it. See a CATO report “Obamacare What We Know Now.

CATO: “Health care reform was designed to accomplish three goals: provide health insurance coverage for all Americans, reduce insurance costs for individuals, businesses, and government, and increase the quality of health care and the value received for each dollar of health care spending. With nearly four years of experience since the law passed, and with the most significant provisions finally kicking in, we can say that, judged by these goals, the new law should be considered a colossal failure.”

Last year Obama said, “It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government…” But Obama’s government was not smart enough to produce an operating website. He also said last year, “Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep – but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.” And if you like your doctor….

And speaking of a smarter government, the Obama administration managed to blow $100 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks to alternative energy schemes that went bankrupt or are about to. Of the approximately $100 billion that Obama gave to green tech companies, 80 percent went to donors to Obama’s campaign and to other Democrats. For every dollar those fund-raisers gave, they made back $25,000.(See story here).

This year Obama claimed, “America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades. … The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.”

Climate change has been a fact for about 4 billion years, but the debate is not settled as shown by the abject failure of climate models to jive with observations.

As for energy independence, it is true that America produces more oil and gas than ever before, but that new production came from private and state land. Production from federal land decreased due to Obama’s obstructionist policies. (Read more)

Obama’s official, but futile policy to do something about climate change will adversely affect scientific research. Steven Goddard, proprietor of the blog “Real Science” opines that by declaring an official and unassailable scientific position on “climate change”- it is now career threatening for any government scientist to produce evidence to the contrary. Undoubtedly the most disgusting anti-science event in US history. Climate change is a completely vague, nebulous, undefinable concept, so Obama can use his decree as an excuse to purge anyone who doesn’t fall in line.

Meanwhile, the EPA is conducting a war against natural resource production, electrical generation, the economy, and jobs.

“A feeble executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever may be its theory, must, in practice, be a bad government.” –Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

That’s the real state of the union.

The economy, the deficit, and the blame game

The recent volatility of the stock market caused proximally by the brinksmanship over raising the Federal debt limit ceiling has precipitated much discussion over who is to blame. From my point of view, the chart below shows the major problem.


This whole thing started in 2008 when the subprime mortgage bubble burst. Congress had encouraged, even mandated, that banks lend money to unqualified real estate buyers in the name of social justice. The banks probably realized the folly, so they repackaged the mortgages in a variety of derivatives and sold them far and wide. When, not surprisingly, it turned out that the unqualified borrowers could not repay the loans, the whole thing collapsed.

Once again Congress came to the rescue with a series of bailouts and massive spending projects that were supposed to, according to Keynesian theory, save the economy and create jobs. We are still waiting for that Keynesian magic to work.

All that led to the debt limit crisis and the downgrading of America’s credit rating by S&P, something that our Turbo Tax Treasury Secretary said would never happen.

Hence the blame game. Thomas Sowell opines:

Why was there a financial crisis in the first place? Because of runaway spending that sent the national debt up against the legal limit. But when all the big spending bills were being rushed through Congress, the Democrats had such an overwhelming majority in both houses of Congress that nothing the Republicans could do made the slightest difference.

Yet polls show that many people today are blaming the Republicans for the country’s financial problems. But, by the time Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, and thus became involved in negotiations over raising the national debt ceiling, the spending which caused that crisis in the first place had already been done — and done by Democrats.

It seems that Democrats are better at the blame game than Republicans.

Through all this President Obama pontificated but offered no real plan. That has prompted Walter Williams to ask whether that was through “Ignorance Stupidity or Connivance.”

The Congress is in its August recess so we are relatively safe for the moment, but when they return, if they are to show any real responsibility, they must make real cuts government spending.

See also:

Tax the Rich by Lowering Tax Rates

Taxes and Spending

Dereliction of Duty by Congress and Obama

Does Congress Really Have to Raise Debt Ceiling?

Note to the Next Congress