Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Constitution Revolution of 2011

A revolution is occurring in the way the U.S. Congress relates to the Constitution. During the Great Depression, all the branches of government changed the Constitution to “anything not prohibited is permitted.” Previously, the essence of the Constitution was the opposite, “anything not permitted is prohibited to the federal government.”
James Madison, a principal author of the Constitution, explained in the Federalist Papers #45, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.” The federal government only has those powers enumerated or specifically authorized in the Constitution. Madison wrote in 1788, “the powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.”
The Tenth Amendment makes it clear: “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.”
But to push through legislation during the Great Depression, Congress and the president ignored the limitations of the Constitution, and then in the “Constitutional Revolution of 1937,” the Supreme Court caved in and consented to New Deal legislation such as Social Security.
The Supreme Court transformed the Constitutional powers for the “general welfare” and commerce “among the several states” to means “anything goes.” But if anything goes, then the enumeration of powers is meaningless.
The Tea Party movement has emphasized constraining the federal government to the enumerated powers. A going back to the original Constitutional constraints had long been advocated by the libertarian movement. In its opening sessions in January 2010, some members of the House of Representatives proposed the radical requirement that all bills cite its Constitutional authority.
The House also had a reading of the Constitution. This by itself means little, since the welfare state liberals believe in an elastic constitution, a “living document” that bends to political winds, that empowers Congress to do anything. In that case, the original Constitution is not living, but has decayed and died.
If the House implements the Constitutional authority concept, they may cite “interstate commerce” and “general welfare.” But that will make clear that there really is no enumerated Constitutional authority, contrary to the 10th Amendment.
Now there are Constitutional movements against the new requirement that U.S. persons must buy medical insurance. Broader, there is a realization that the concept of “anything goes” has created an ever larger federal government and an unsustainable welfare state. “Anything goes” is now being financed by trillion dollar deficits that are creating a federal debt and unfunded liabilities that cannot possibly be paid and fulfilled. Many Americans have become alarmed at the prospect of U.S. treasury debt becoming regarded as risky, creating much higher debt service payments, and then, in a future financial crisis, default.
The Constitution Revolution of 2011 seeks to stop the fiscal river of no return. Welfare state liberals scoffed at the Tea Party, but it now holds sway over the House of Representatives, where all fiscal bills originate. Just maybe the Constitution Revolution will save the United States of America from a worse financial crash than that experienced in 2008.


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