Sunday, September 4, 2011

And The Beat(ing) Goes On Part 26-- The Balanced Budget Amendment: Good or Bad for America

There has been a lot of talk about a Balanced Budget Amendment among conservatives in the past couple of years. It seems that many think. as I did, it  would solve all the woes of overspending and stop the Left from spending excessive amounts on their pet projects, but would it?

After reading the most recent submission of a Balanced Budget Amendment I began to do some research on the matter. What I have discovered may come as a shock to many and it may really upset a lot of folks who deem this Amendment as the salvation of the country. 

Those strongly supporting the BBA are pushing three benefits tht say will fix "the problem".

1. Require Congress to balance the federal budget each year
2. Prevent Congress from spending more than 20 percent of GDP
3. Require a 2/3 supermajority vote to raise  taxes.

Would this actually be the means to end all and finally get the nation back on track to rational spending?  Actually it would not. If Congress had indeed wished to limit spending , which would have kept us from having a 14 Trillion Dollar debt they could have if only they had paid attention to the Constitution and abided by the Document that they swore to uphold when they took office.

 In Art. I, Sec. 8!   Congress was given the  authority to do what amounts to take care of international relations, commerce & war; and domestically, the creation of an uniform commercial system (weights & measures, patents  & copyrights, a money system based on gold & silver, bankruptcy laws, mail delivery & road building.)  Some Amendments authorize Congress to make laws protecting civil rights. That’s about it, Folks!  The list of objects on which Congress may lawfully appropriate funds is short.  The only significant authorized expense is the military.  Madison, the Father of the U.S. Constitution, said in Federalist No, 45:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. 

Note that Madison contemplated that the federal government would be financed in large part by taxation on foreign commerceThat is because the constitutional powers of the federal government are so limited & defined!  The States and the People are to handle everything else.

OOOPS you mean that conditions on spending were already there but have been ignored by our Leaders?  Absolutely , so why do you think they would abide by a "new" Amendment when they haven't paid attention to the old ones?

Should this BBA be ratified the result would be to finish off what little is left of our existing Constitution of enumerated powers; and create a new system where Congress’ unconstitutional legislation & spending is legitimized – as long as it is no more than 20% of the GDP.
And since Congress, the executive branch and the judicial branch already ignore the limitations the existing Constitution places on their powers (they have no lawful authority outside of their enumerated powers);  it would be no time at all before they ignore the 20% limit on spending.  This “emergency” or that “emergency” would arise; and soon the 20% limit would be ignored as well.

Are you beginning to understand the questions that have arisen in the minds of some concerning this BBA?

  So if the BBA is not the answer and if Congress has the powers to control spending, Why don’t they control their spending now?  The Republicans control the House – NO spending can get through the House unless the Republicans approve it.  So if the Republicans really wanted to control spending and balance the budget, they could do it now. Why don’t they do it?  Because they don’t want to

You mean they are lying to We The People?  Yep , it would appear so or else they are so stupid that they don't know or understand the Constitutional powers given to each Branch of the Government.  I'd say probably a good combination of both.

Basically the BBA would only legitimize the unconstitutional spending that they are doing now.

The BBA is really short and each of  you should read it sometime.  It is outlined in 10 basic steps:(Actually there are 11 but 11 only says when this is to come into effect if ratified by the States.(Section 11. This article shall take effect beginning with the fifth fiscal year beginning after its ratification.) Folks that's a long time considering how Congress spends money.

Section 1: They won’t spend more than they take in unless they vote to spend more than they take in.

Section 2: They won’t spend more than 18% of the GDP unless they vote to spend more than 18% of the GDP.

Section 3: The President will write the budget: He will designate the taxes, and what the money will be spent on.  He won’t spend more than he decides to tax you for, and he won’t spend more than 18% of the GDP.  The GDP is a computation made by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in the Department of Commerce, an agency under the control of the President. [OOOPS you mean  The President controls the agency which computes the number which limits his spending. Yep so hang on to your wallet]

Section 4: Congress won’t make a law raising your taxes unless they vote to raise your taxes.

Section 5: Congress won’t raise the debt limit unless they vote to raise the debt limit.

Section 6. The Congress may waive the provisions of sections 1, 2, 3, and 5 of this article for any fiscal year in which a declaration of war against a nation-state is in effect and in which a majority of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress shall provide for a specific excess by a roll call vote.

Section 7. The Congress may waive the provisions of sections 1, 2, 3, and 5 of this article in any fiscal year in which the United States is engaged in a military conflict that causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security and is so declared by three-fifths of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress by a roll call vote. Such suspension must identify and be limited to the specific excess of outlays for that fiscal year made necessary by the identified military conflict.(So according to Sections 6 &7 Congress can waive the above provisions 1 thru 5 of the BBA (except for Sec. 4 which says they can’t raise your taxes unless they vote to raise your taxes) when there is a declared war or  a “military conflict” which they think justifies their waiving the above provisions of the BBA.)

Section 8Courts can’t order your taxes to be raised. (But you can bet your sweet that this section, together with section 3, will be seen to authorize the President to order that your taxes be raised.)

Section 9: Total receipts shall include all receipts of the United States Government except those derived from borrowing. Total outlays shall include all outlays of the United States Government except those for repayment of debt principal. (I leave this to others to explain since it sounds like so much DC gobbly gook and double talk. But be assured the President’s minions will define stuff however he wants; make stuff “off-budget” or “on-budget” to fit his agenda.)

Section 10: The Congress shall have power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation, which may rely on estimates of outlays, receipts, and gross domestic product.  (I.E.Congress can make laws to enforce the BBA, and can rely on numbers provided by the President who is to be given constitutional authority to order tax increases & decide how to spend the money. Hmm , now that doesn't sound exactly right by me since it would be the Executive Branch now ordering tax increases and spending money.  I thought ONLY CONGRESS could do that?)

The BBA would transform our Constitution from one of enumerating spending powers to one of General (unlimited) spending powers. With the BBA, it will become lawful for them to appropriate funds for whatever the President (who will write the budget) says!
In other words it again violates the very Constitution that they swore to uphold by Transferring the Powers of the Purse to the President. But wait you say, doesn't the President already have at least some of that power. Yes, but...

The federal government didn’t even have a budget until Congress passed the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. That “law” purported to grant budget making power (taxes & appropriations) to the President.

Hmm it seems that the Budget Act of 1921 was/is unconstitutional: The Constitution places the taxing & appropriations powers squarely in the hands of  Congress – not the Executive Branch; regardless of what a bunch of lawyers believe. Congress may not “amend” the Constitution by making a law.

Article I, Sec. 8, cl. 1, grants to Congress the Power to lay and collect Taxes; and Art. I, Sec. 9, next to last clause, grants to Congress the Power to make the appropriations:
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.

Congress commands the purse – not the Executive Branch and not the Judicial Branch

Hamiliton stated : 
 The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules …  The judiciary … has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society…

Madison had this to say
…The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing … all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government.  This power over the purse regarded as the most complet and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance.

So Section 3 of the BBA does more than merely legalize the unlawful. It actually transfers the constitutional power to make the appropriations and to determine taxes to the President.  Congress will become a rubber stamp. (So far not so good, but keep reading, it only gets worse)

Section 8 of the proposed BBA says:
No court of the United States or of any State shall order any increase in revenue to enforce this article.
Our Constitution does not grant to courts the power to “order” tax increases.  So why does Sec. 8 of the BBA say they can’t do it?

It is called, from what I understand from my limited legal knowledge, IMPLIED CONCLUSION.  An implied exclusion amounts to whenever there is reason to believe that if the legislature had meant to include a particular thing within the ambit of its legislation, it would have referred to that thing expressly. Because of this expectation, the legislature’s failure to mention the thing becomes grounds for inferring that it was deliberately excluded. Although there is no express exclusion, exclusion is implied.
Did you note that in Section 8 the President was excluded. Wondering why? You can be sure that Presidents will claim power under Sec. 8 of the BBA to order tax increases. That inference is strengthened by the fact that Sec. 3 of the BBA transfers constitutional power over the Budget to the President.

The BBA would grant judicial power  over taxing to the Federal Courts and according to...Article III, Sec. 2, cl. 1   “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases…arising under this Constitution.”
Article III, Sec. 2, cl. 1 states:  “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases…arising under this Constitution.”

Say WHAT, Say HOW?

If the BBA is ratified, it will become an Amendment to the Constitution which is subject to the judicial authority of the federal courts. How is that possible?

Since this would be an issue “arising under the Constitution”, the supreme Court will decide. The Judicial Branch – a branch which Hamilton took care to point out should have no power whatsoever over The Purse. And so nine (actually 5 for a majority)  people on the supreme Court will decide an issue which goes to the heart of our Constitution – an issue which most of the folks clamoring for the BBA don’t even know exists. I know that I was not sure until I began to research the subject.

Remember folks if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is and IMHO this sums up the BBA in a nutshell.

Now, as Paul Harvey would say, you have "the rest of the story".
Don't just take my word for this, do some research, ask your representative if they have ever considered these facts. You might be surprised to find out that they really don't know what they are supporting except it sounds good and will garner them votes in the upcoming elections.  Be careful folks what you wish for.

The best solution is to insist that our representatives adhere to the US Constitution and that folks will take care of balancing the budget and cutting out all this nonsense spending that Congress and the President calls absolutely necessary.

I will add just one note concerning spending bills of any kind. It would be easier to control spending if EVERY spending bill had to STAND ALONE and not be attached or become a rider on some other bill.  It has been a favorite way of getting spending bills passed that otherwise would have not stood a chance on their own.  Insist that your representatives push this rather than a BBA.   


sue said...

Ticker - I missed your Sunday inspirational message.


Ticker said...

I thought this very inspirational. Time is valuable and sometimes I just don't have time to write and post all the things I would like too. It took days to put this together with all the research involved. Google BBA and see just how many articles there are to sift through plus all the blogs.
I have next Sunday's blog already lined up. I ran across a great song today and will be using it next week.

sue said...

Ticker - Sorry if my comment offended you.

It's just that I'm not into the heavy, detailed stuff.

I'll look forward to next Sunday's song.


Scotty said...

Good post, ticker! I've been screeching that point, to anyone who'll listen, for oh so many years!!

We DON'T need a new amendment, we just need to follow the constitution! It's ALL so simple!

Z said...

"follow the Constitution~?" With OBAMA IN CHARGE? :-)]

Great bit of research here, Ticker, thanks for that..

Ticker said...

Sue, it pays to pay attention.
My grandfather said, you might be poor son, but you are never too poor to pay attention ... and you'd better.

It pays to pay attention to details as is shown how dangerous it is not to by the election of the current "Occupier in Chief" of the WH.

Scotty: Yes indeed, yes indeed but unfortunately the current crop has no clue or as is the case most don't give a rat's butt what the Constitution says.

Z, The congress can and if they did most of what Obama has done would have been stopped in it's tracks as unconstitutional.

1.21roots said...

Ticker - Yes, rather. Quite right.

It does pay to pay attention.

And I am.

This country is in what you would call bad shape.

But do we go again with what we know we have or do we venture into the unknown with 9 candidates about whom we know nothing as to how badly they can further ruin this great country of ours.