My little sister, Diana, who works in Washington as a Legislative Correspondent for Bob Bennett, pointed out to me, that my previous post was inaccurate.  I stated that the proposed bailout being discussed in Congress presently was unconstitutional.  She called me on it, so I went and looked up the wording in the Constitution, Article I, Section 8, which defines the scope of Legislative power:

Section 8. The Congress shall have 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; 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 a 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;

It continues, but that’s the relevant part.  After reading that, I have to say that what Congress is doing is within the scope of their constitutional power, I just think that the way they are planning to exercise that power is stupid.  Thanks, Di.

4 Responses

  1. Also, it should be noted that the quoted passage has been modified somewhat by the Amendments. Not really significant to the issue in question. HOWEVER, there may indeed be some portions of the bailout bill that ARE unconstitutional. (Not that anyone in Washington appears to care anymore – for the past hundred years at least.)

    Congress does NOT have the power to provide financing for private institutions. (They are proposing giving money to privately owned banks.) Congress does NOT have the power to make any law (or even comment) about what CEOs get paid, or when they get to use their golden parachutes.

    I have sent my letters to my congressmen (sorry to flood your life with more work, Diana), and encouraged everyone I know to do the same. The entire bill may not be unconstitutional, but it IS short-sighted. We won’t fix the problem by doing more of what caused the problem in the first place.

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong, but something is “unconstitutional” when it conflicts with what is written in the constitution. Can you tell me how this plan contradicts the constitution specifically? I think you’re making large claims that you can’t back up. As I told Mike before, you may not like this plan and it may go against your conservative and/or libertarian principles, but that does not make it unconstitutional. Sorry. Jeremy, you state confidently that Congress does NOT have the power to provide financing for private institutions. Why not? What prohibits that? Where are you getting that from? Furthermore, they’re not making a law about how CEOs will be paid, but they are trying to dictate where the money they’re appropriating will go and how it will be spent. Why do they NOT have the power to do that? I’m not saying that I agree with this plan. I’ve told you before that I think this is all very complicated and that nobody really understands it completely, including me and including you. Why can’t you admit that?

  3. Good questions Diana. Let me start by admitting that I DON’T understand the whole economic situation. I think you’re right that nobody does entirely. However, I believe that some people have a better idea about what’s happening than others. In this specific case, there are people who have predicted exactly what is happening. They figured it out many years ago, and went public with their predictions and were laughed at. You can find video after video of people testifying before Congress, doing on Fox News, etc., and literally being laughed at for their views. Now that their predictions have come true, we are completely ignoring their ideas of how to proceed. Instead we are turning to the same guys who got it wrong originally. If somebody consistently gave me advice that turned out to be wrong, I would start asking somebody else. I wish Congress had the same thoughts.

    As for the Constitutionality matter, my response does rely on a basic assumption that I have about the Constitution. Some people believe that it means whatever Congress and the Supreme Court say it means. I disagree. I believe that the actual words mean something real and concrete. With that preface… Article I Section 8 grants Congress explicit powers, and also grants them powers that are “necessary and proper” for executing the explicitly listed powers. Section 9 denies Congress explicit powers. So if we stopped reading there, I would say there is a gap between what is necessary and proper and what is denied. That gap is open to interpretation as to whether or not Congress has those powers.

    But then came the Bill of Rights. Amendments IX and X say, respectively, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people;” and “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.” I believe that these statements are pretty clear: there is no longer a gap. Anything that is not granted to the national government belongs to the people or the states. Meaning: Congress has NO right to do any of those things.

  4. I have 3 things to tell you:
    1- I agree with you, and have written my representatives.
    2- Your parents raised very smart children.
    3- I really hope I raise children who can debate/argue with each other in an eloquent, civilized manner.

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