Three Undemocratic Temptations – by Tony Blankley


constitution

As the Democrats in Congress approach the end of a frustrating first year’s legislative effort, their leaders and the White House are being tempted by three possible shortcuts around the regular lawmaking process.

Though the Democrats have a majority of 20 seats in the Senate and 79 seats in the House, now, just a week before Christmas, the speaker of the House, the Senate majority leader and the White House have failed — so far — to pass into law their desired legislation in the matters of 1) health care provision and financing, 2) public debt and deficit reduction, and 3) carbon regulation and taxation.

Given the extraordinary effects such policy changes would have on the American economy and the American way of life, to enact such changes without benefit of informed majority votes in the House and Senate would be in violation of the constitutional process — certainly in spirit, perhaps in form.

The schemes, I suppose, are thought to be clever. On health care, because the Constitution requires revenue bills to originate in the House, the plan would take the shell of a minor House revenue bill, and then inserted in it would be the entire final health bill (called a Senate “manager’s amendment”), negotiated largely among Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and such other party leaders as are necessary to ensure that the bill would pass both houses.

Then, with only minutes’ notice, they could pass it in the Senate and hours later in the House, and it would be on the president’s desk within a few more hours for his signature.

The provisions never would be seen or comprehended by most of even the Democratic Party members of the House and Senate. Certainly the public would have no chance to hear about the details, let alone a chance to contact their congressmen to express opinions.

(By contrast, the original Medicare bills were designated as H.R. 1 and S. 1 in January 1965. The House bill moved forward to markup in the Ways and Means Committee and then to passage on the floor of the House on April 8, by a vote of 313-115. The Senate approved its version July 9, 68-21. A conference committee worked for more than a week in mid-July to reconcile 513 differences between the two versions of the bill. President Lyndon Johnson then signed the Medicare bill into law, July 30, 1965.)

On the public debt and deficit crisis, the White House, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, Judd Gregg (the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee) and other leaders (but not Speaker Pelosi, yet) want Congress to create a bipartisan commission that would have authority to add new taxes and rewrite all the tax codes, all the entitlement laws and any other laws affecting revenues or expenses in order to reduce the deficit to no more than 3 percent of gross domestic product. In other words, the commission could transmogrify the entire body of U.S. law, and then — reporting back to Congress after the election — each house of Congress would have one unamendable up-or-down vote.

What a shocking abrogation of representative government. This is not a matter of policy; it is a matter of constitutional process. Even our friends at the left-wing Daily Kos condemned this as “particularly galling” and favorably quoted the “strong opposition” statement of the progressive Campaign for America’s Future, as do I:

“Those supporting this circumvention of the normal process have stated openly the desire to avoid political accountability. Americans — seniors, women, working families, people with disabilities, young adults, children, people of color, veterans, communities of faith and others — expect their elected representatives to be responsible and accountable for shaping such significant, far-reaching legislation.”

Amen, my brothers and sisters of the left. The day that either of us loves our constitutional process less than we would love to see some particular policy enacted — that’s the day democracy dies in America.

Finally, as the White House does not expect to be able to pass a cap-and-trade bill in the Senate, it has announced that it intends — without benefit of legislation — to have the Environmental Protection Agency regulate (i.e., tax, restrict or prohibit) any source that emits as little as 250 tons of carbon dioxide a year (or, in some cases, 100 tons). At 250 tons a year, the kitchen in a restaurant, the heating system in an apartment or office building, or the running a family farm would trigger federal regulation; potentially, more than 1 million buildings, 200,000 manufacturing operations and 20,000 farms would fall under the arbitrary power of the state.

Of course, all these methods have been used before — commissions to decide base closings or Social Security changes, sharply interpreted expansion of regulatory authority over some small new category of creature or process, middle-of-the-night legislative passage of a pork-laden spending bill.

But the proposals before us now are of such a magnitude as to transform American life and work as we have known it. To have such momentous decisions made in the backroom by a half-dozen leaders (without the public’s having a chance to comment) and then to have it rubber-stamped by obedient backbench representatives and senators who have not even asserted their prerogative to read the bills they are told to vote for — if that were to happen, then our people’s Congress would become like the lackey-filled old Soviet Parliament.

To paraphrase Hannah Arendt: For the leaders to “speak in the form of commanding” and for the rank and file to “hear in the form of obeying” is not a transaction between free people.

Whatever the motives of their leaders, it is within the power — and it is the duty — of the rank-and-file members of Congress to insist on regular legislative order. Their careers — to say nothing of the republic — may require that insistence.

  • Proxywar

    “Amen, my brothers and sisters of the left.”

    I just puked a little in my mouth after reading that.

  • leonious

    Let me guess!

    You are a sophomore in college trolling through these cyberspaces . May diarrhea follow your nausea.

    Your entire generation has had me gagging whilst returning to college. Any idea what the avocation of choice is for your brothers & sisters. ding dong ding dong ding dong ding. Times up your answer please. BUZZZZZZZZZZZ wrong not services to humanity,,, DUDE. FINANCIAL SERVICES. Comrades in arms of this tribe were the bulk of OBAMA's campaign contributions. STILL PUKING?????????

    Pet yore dog,,,relax. Worship at the altar of your vapid attention span; probable shorter than your codpiece,,LOL . Odds are you are so self centered it is unlikely you shall sire a child.

    Pleased to know you are joining me at the vomitorium where I have reposed for the past six years pursuing my BS Geographic Information Science degree. If you had a clue as to how GUV works I might understand your nausea.

    I have been, nearly daily entreated to just how IGNORANT to the BIG PICTURE,,,TWERPS such as thee are.

    Blow me Junior!

    Leonious

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-C-Davidson/100000093579423 John C. Davidson

    For all too long, we have allowed the supreme beings that flitter about our government goosing young girls while oblivious to the consequences of their actions because they control most of the press and everything else has become fair game to them. I look for Fox News to be vilified next year in various civil & Federal courts They did forget about the internet, but rules will fall into place to fix that problem as anyone who speaks out against government policies shall be deemed a traitor. The Zars are ready to take action and what a likely bunch of radicals who have a background well suited for the job ahead of them.

  • johncarens

    My brother and I started a small coffee roasting business in 1994. We've had our ups and downs, but the company does well enough now that, after 16 years, I don't worry about the future as much as many do here in Michigan (at least in terms of the grim Michigan economy). Also, we now employ (seasonally) up to 30 people.

    We have determined that we will not be compelled by federal government fiat to collect insurance premiums from the magnificent people that work for us, or help the government impose their will on them vis-a-vis health insurance, or be any other agent for the federal government's tyrannical takeover of the health-care industry. We will not participate.

    It is my hope that thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of business throughout the country will likewise not participate in this monstrous, inhumane scheme. As Mr. Blankley's article so well articulates, this “bill” will not be passed through normal constitutional processes, it creates unconstitutional and extra-constitutional institutions, and the fact that the “bill” forcibly compels citizens to purchase something (in this case insurance) makes it by definition unconstitutional.

    And the fact that it will be passed in the wee dark hours of Christmas Eve makes it all the more macabre and nightmarish. Merry Christmas.

    We are now ruled by an iron-fisted cabal of extreme statist Stalinist Neo-Marxist tyrants. They are the law unto themselves now. If they go through with this stinking pile of tyrannical crap, the constitution will be effectively shredded.We have no obligation to follow where these animals lead us. In fact, we can make a very plausible argument that, if you believe in constitutional democracy, civil disobedience is required. This moment in history has all the makings of a modern-day Kansas-Nebraska act, and Harry Reid has no idea the forces he will unleash.

    This is so tragic, and unnecessary. Harry Reid's galling, illegal mugging of the liberty of the American people may well be the modern-day provisioning of Forth Sumter. God have mercy on us all.

  • ThomasJefferson55

    We intend for you to continue puking, you haven't seen anything yet you ignorant ass.

    Senior

  • TakingAmericaBack

    coprphagia. your post is the obvious result of coprophagia. rambling, incoherent.. like some hollywood blvd. pimp trying to use “big words” to convince everyone he is an “extinguished gentleman, and very impotent”.

    Degree? I call bullshit.

    Signed,
    Me. Ph.D. TheoPhys, 1988, Columbia University.