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21 January 2015

Examining the State of the Union

Responsible citizenship isn't always fun. For instance, the State of the Union. In German they taught us this word, "totlangweilig." Deadly Dull. Also prone to make blood shoot from your eyes, should you happen to be a Constitutional Originalist. So. Here goes. The speech. Compared to the Constitution.

Text in italics comes from the speech, unless otherwise specified. Bolded text is the Constitution.

"In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan."

 He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; (Article III Section 3)

It is perfectly legitimate for the President to suggest legislation, including the budget. It is, however, also perfectly legitimate for Congress to ignore his suggestions, as they and they along hold the legislative power. If they should chose to ignore it, whining is unbecoming of both the president and his supporters; that's how checks and balances work. The president (regardless of party) doesn't get anything he wants, just because he wants it. He is a president, not a monarch.

"And in the months ahead, I’ll crisscross the country making a case for those ideas."

I suppose there is nothing in the Constitution forbidding it, but this seems rather an unnecessary expense, given that we live in the age of instant internet communications, and a 24-hour news cycle. Post it on the White House webpage. Give a speech. I don't want to pay for your fancy travel, thanks. It's wacky expensive, and I'm tapped. To me, this looks suspiciously like campaigning, and I don't like it when any politician does that on the public nickle.

We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world.  And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record.  Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high.  More Americans finish college than ever before. 

A careful reading of Article I Section 8 will show that there is no authority for Federal involvement in education. None. The legitimate thing to do would be to shut down the Department of Education immediately and return all funding earmarked for that to the people. Or to debate and pass an Amendment authorizing it. Anything else at all is usurpation and lawlessness. Since the odds of the Federal Government limiting itself are infinitesimal, States should immediately begin to Nullify this illegal Federal intrusion.

We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition.  Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices.  And in the past year alone, about 10 million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.

Again, a careful reading of Article I Section 8 (It's a key section, and one of the most important for a citizen to be familiar with, in my opinion), will show that much of this is unconstitutional. Health insurance, for example, is not a legitimate concern for the federal government, as it cannot be  sold across State lines, and they may only regulate interstate commerce, and not commerce that takes place entirely with the State.

The Congress shall have Power To... regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States... (Article I Section 8)

Now, claiming that he wants to "stop taxpayer-funded bailouts" is rather disingenuous, since as President-elect, he supported the auto bailouts, and, while it was Bush who signed the first auto bailouts, the mess persisted, and the handoff between the two administrations went, to my eye, very seamlessly, and between the Bush and Obama Administrations' work on not one, but two auto bailouts, taxpayers paid more than 80 billion dollars in bailouts.

Not so incidentally, there is no authority for Congress to participate in commerce of any sort.  They may regulate only, and only when the commerce takes place across State lines. Bailouts are not regulatory in nature; it's participatory. They are, therefore, unconstitutional.

And these policies will continue to work as long as politics don’t get in the way.

It is worthy of note that the current fashion in Washington, when lawmakers of any stripe don't get their way, is to point fingers at the other guy and accuse him of being obstructionist. While there may be some justice to that charge, it's not necessarily an all bad thing that not every initiative comes to fruition. In the heat of the moment, people conveniently forget that we have checks and balances built into our government. We talk about it in Civics Class, and it's generally thought of as a good thing, designed to protect liberty. But when it starts to play out in real life, it's not called checks and balances any more, it's "playing politics" and it's "partisanship" and "obstructionist." But the fact is, it's not supposed to be easy  or quick to make law. On the contrary, each law has to be debated by several different groups, pass through multiple committee hurdles, and then finally be approved by the President and eventually upheld by the courts. This process is lengthy and difficult, and that is by design. It's done that way to protect our liberties from the very human tendency to accumulate power and concentrate it in the hands of only a few. That's not what America is about. So it's ok if the President doesn't get all - even most - of what he wants for the nation. He's just one guy; he's not supposed to have that much power.

As time allows, I'll be back to look at the rest of this speech. There is plenty more to go.


Rozy Lass said...

You have a stronger stomach than I do. I can't even look at the imposter, let alone listen to and watch him. Unfortunately, most of those in government (elected and unelected) are corrupt, and those who aren't don't have enough influence to overcome those who are. We, the people, are uneducated regarding the constitution, civic responsibilities, and economics (present company excluded). Satan, with his secret (though they are fairly blatant today) combinations, is alive and well today and working overtime to thwart God's plan. We are so blessed to know about the prophet who can guide us through these perilous times; and understand that although circumstances will get pretty bad, God's plan won't be thwarted and the righteous will be triumphant in the end. Keep up the good work.

Ritsumei said...

Well, I detest watching him. His voice is one of my all-time least favorite sounds. I agree that the level of Constitutional ignorance in our country is breathtaking; this exercise is designed to help me be more educated myself, and to assist anyone that happens by to read it in considering the thing in relation to the Constitution; it's no longer a factor in many, perhaps most conversations about government.


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