Many of us look at our country today and wonder where the experiment in self-government went wrong. With the President’s approval rating as of an April 2014 Gallup poll of 43% and Congress’s approval rating hovering around 12% to 14%, more and more Americans are feeling disenfranchised and want to blame the Constitution as the source of the problems saying its outdated, needs changing or should just be eliminated altogether as some die hard socialists and communists advocate. The truth however is not that the Constitution does not work, it’s that all too often it’s just ignored or bypassed as a matter, the politicians claim, of practicality. The passing of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is a good example of this bypassing of the founders intent. Art. I, Sec. 7 part 1 of the US Constitution states
“All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.”.
Known as the Origination Clause, it basically means that all bills proposed related to taxing the people shall originate in the House of Representatives. The thinking behind this was to create an institutional protection against repressive taxation since members of the House of Representatives faced the shortest terms in office and they would, in theory, be more accountable to the people. The powers of the purse strings were given to the House, however over the years the Senate has taken on this role through a process called gut and replace bypassing the original intent of the Constitution. The Senate by law can only propose changes or agree to existing house bills related to taxation. Where the perversion of this law takes place is when the Senate takes a House originated bill, guts all of the language out of the bill but keeps the bill number thus staying in compliance with the Origination clause’s technical meaning while rejecting its intent of allowing the body of Congress closest to the people to have control of the purse strings. The Affordable Care Act started out as H.R. 3590 “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act.” It was unanimously passed by the House in 2009 and provided tax cuts and breaks to veterans. The language of the bill upon arrival in the Senate however was completely gutted out and replaced with Senator Harry Reid’s Heath Care bill which included many revenue (taxation) provisions and the health care mandate which the Supreme Court would later rule as a tax. The house bill number was retained in order to stay in compliance with the Origination Clause. The Democrat controlled House rather than object to the revenue bill produced by the Senate which they could have, instead passed it without a single Republican voting for it. On March 23, 2010 President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. There are numerous cases being heard across the country right now challenging the authority of the Affordable Care Act and among some of the arguments being presented to throw out Obamacare was the manner in which it was passed using gut and replace. This is but one poignant example of how our Constitution is being perverted and circumnavigated by supposed representatives of the people. The hard truth is that the country is more divided politically now than it has for many, many decades. We have two major political groups vying for control of the hearts and minds of Americans. The Democrats, who reject many parts of the Constitution in principle and in actions when they are able, and want to make government the sole sovereign in this country. They do not believe that individuals can know what is best for them. They believe only trained experts can properly guide the population and provide happiness. We also have mainstream Republicans who like the principle of limited government when it eliminates burdensome regulation but has no problem using government to eliminate competition and provide them with subsidies often at the expense of their fellow countrymen.
Democrat politicians want to stay in power so they promise to give the people what they desire, “free” stuff, which is not really free, but to the recipients of government charity ie social security, welfare, grants, healthcare, unemployment benefits, etc it appears to be free. They’re not paying for it so it must be free. They ignore the fact that in order for the government to give a person anything, it has to take it from someone else. This class of people think government owes them happiness and must really believe either that government is this separate entity that has endless funds to provide anything its citizens wants, or they must think it is totally appropriate to take from other people’s wealth and redistribute it to less wealthy. Who gets to decide how much is taken and who it’s taken from is left to their “experts” whoever they are. The politicians that represent this class of “American” know that as long as they continue to provide more goodies and protect the existing goodies they will continue to receive votes and be able to stay in power. These Americans will continue to vote for them and vehemently oppose any party or individuals that would threaten to take their goodies away. This I think is also why there has never been a hard push for immigration reform by the Democrat party. As more and more unskilled, poor, and needy people enter this country each year desiring the same “free” stuff the Democrats promise, the more these politicians will have a growing dependent constituency.
Mainstream Republican politicians also want to stay in power and promise to use government as a tool and provide goodies too. Government can be useful eliminating competition factors making the potential for profit greater. Government can also provide subsidies to certain businesses and industries. It can force foreign governments to open trade opportunities and use our military to ensure they remain open. It can also give tax breaks to certain entities. If mainstream Republicans were truly interested in protecting the Constitution why do they view the Tea Party political grass roots movement, which embodies the founding father’s principles, with such disdain? Could it be that the principles of limited government interfere with their use of government as a tool and source for goodies? I am certain of it. The idea that government was somehow created to provide for its citizens “goodies” is poison to our country and society . Take a moment to notice the words enshrined in one of our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence. It says our founders believed that people have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Note it does not say we guarantee happiness or outcomes, but instead the pursuit of happiness and to be what you want to be free from government prejudices, state religion, and class nobility restrictions. Nowhere does the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution guarantee that people will not go hungry, will have clothing, shelter, TV’s, no competition in business, health insurance, social security, etc… Individual responsibility for your lot in life was left up to you not some benevolent government, single sovereign or the greased palm of a politician.
“Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals; that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government; that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen’s protection against the government.” –Ayn Rand