If you have noticed a loud whirring sound lately, it is probably the sound of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the signers of the Constitution spinning in their graves as they watch the devastation of their beloved document by our socialist leaders in Washington.
On Saturday the White House released a four-page document outlining the President’s spending plan. The report was a more detailed version of the plan announced in his speech January 9. It calls for $825 billion in pork barrel spending under the guise of “America Recovery and Investment”, otherwise known as the “stimulus package”.
According to White House sources, the plan is near completion in the Democratic controlled Congress. The proposed bill will contain more pork than all the meatpacking plants in America combined. However, there is very little stimulus of the type that might create a substantial number of new jobs, or “jump-start” our lagging economy. Instead, it seems designed to enhance the reelection of the Democratic Congress in the 2110 elections.
The Congressional Budget Office predicts that most of the spending will occur in 2010 and 2011, coincidently just in time for the 2010 and 2012 elections. Among the goodies supposed to create jobs and stimulate the economy is $30 billion to promote renewable energy, $200 million for renovating the Capital Mall, $275 billion in tax relief, even for the 40+ percent who pay no taxes, $50 million for the Endowment for the Arts, and, oh yes, $360 million to buy condoms for preventing the spread of venereal disease.
President Obama indicated his estimation of the intelligence of the American voter by boasting that the bill would contain no “earmarks”. With that much pork, who needs earmarks? Many Republican lawmakers expressed opposition to the bill as it is emerging, but for the wrong reasons. They are not opposed to the idea of “bailouts” per se; they seem more upset that some of their pet projects are not being funded. The vote buying is directed mostly to the reelection of Democrats.
When this spending plan goes into effect, the social, economic and political structure of American will be changed forever. As government takes more and more control of businesses through stock purchases and regulations the capitalist system that has given us a standard of living that is the envy of the world will gradually be transformed into a government planned socialist economy. With the planned deficits running at the rate of over a trillion dollars per year for the foreseeable future, we can expect the onset of hyperinflation and taxation that is even more confiscatory. If not for us, then for our children and grandchildren.
It is not, however, the bleak social and economic outlook that should bother the true patriot. It is the total, complete and probably irrevocable loss of our Constitution that should concern us. Socialism cannot exist within the framework of our Constitution. The Constitution is based on the idea of free market capitalism with each individual free to pursue his or her own prosperity as they think best. The changes required just to make the proposed plans for health care and energy use in any degree effective will require major “forced” changes in our personal choices of lifestyle and living habits. An outline of the plan is posted on the White House website.
- Doubling the production of alternative energy in the next three years.
- Modernizing more than 75% of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of two million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills.
- Making the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within five years, all of America’s medical records are computerized.
- Equipping tens of thousands of schools, community colleges, and public universities with 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries.
- Expanding broadband across America, so that a small business in a rural town can connect and compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world.
- Investing in the science, research, and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries, and entire new industries.
The reader with a working knowledge of the Constitution will notice that none of the six items listed above fall within the authority of the enumerated powers delegated to Congress by the framers. Pseudo-Constitutional scholars like President Obama and others will attempt to authenticate the constitutionality of the plan by pointing to the phrases, “general welfare” and “necessary and proper” found in the first and last clauses of Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution.
I have written many articles on these two clauses in the past. This time I prefer to offer the opinion of two REAL Constitutional scholars, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. One of the arguments used by those opposed to the ratification of the Constitution in 1787 and 1788 was that these clauses granted too much power to the federal government and there was the danger that future Congresses would use them to infringe on our liberties. In an article appearing in the Independent Journal a New York newspaper James Madison responded to this objection:
“It has been urged and echoed, that the power ‘to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,’ amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare.”
“No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction. Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases.”
“A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms “to raise money for the general welfare. ”But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon?”
“If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power?”
“Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection or on the authors of the Constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter.”
~ Federalist No. 41 by James Madison
In 1791 Thomas Jefferson was engaged in an argument with Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, concerning the establishment of a National Bank. In a paper to President George Washington concerning the matter, Jefferson dealt with the so-called “elastic clause”.
“The second general phrase is, ‘to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the enumerated powers.’ But they can all be carried into execution without a bank. A bank, therefore, is not necessary, and consequently, not authorized by this phrase.
It has been much urged, that a bank will give great facility or convenience in the collection of taxes. Suppose this were true: yet the constitution allows only the means which are ‘necessary’ not those which are merely ‘convenient’ for effecting the enumerated powers. If such a latitude of construction be allowed to this phrase, as to give any non-enumerated power, it will go to every one; for there is no one which ingenuity may not torture into a convenience, in some way or other, to some one of so long a list of enumerated powers. It would swallow up all the delegated powers, and reduce the whole to one phrase, as before observed. Therefore it was, that the constitution restrained them to the necessary means, that is to say, to those means without which the grant of the power would be nugatory.”
~ Thomas Jefferson, January 15, 1791
The framers rightly believed that to protect the liberties of the people it was necessary to limit the powers of the federal government to those specifically granted to them by the Constitution. To further reinforce this belief the ninth and tenth amendments were added to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights. That premise was no truer then than it is today.
The doctrine of “enumerated powers” is still the best protector of liberty we have to defend ourselves against the spread of tyranny threatened by Obama’s plan to “save us”.