Congressional Power

by Steve on January 6, 2010

Long, long ago our Congressmen wandered off track, assuming it was their duty to manipulate, regulate, and otherwise control aspects of our lives that are not their responsibility.  We the people, let them get away with it little by little to the point it has become nearly impossible to identify a part of our existence that is not under the influence of government. Section 8 of the US Constitution specifically lays out the powers of congress as such:

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 an 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;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

That’s it.

In a nutshell, Congress is responsible for Taxes, Money, Trade, Citizenship, Bankruptcies, the Post Office, Copyright law, the Federal Courts, Crimes at Sea, the Military, the District of Columbia, and our Common Defense and General Welfare. It’s those last two words that have been abused beyond all recognition for far too long.  How do you define “general welfare” of the people?  To what lengths is Congress tasked to ensure our general welfare?  I’m not exactly sure where the line is drawn but I do know that it has been crossed.  Much like Justice Stewart’s famous statement regarding obscenity, I recognize excess when I see it.  We have government entitlements that we can’t fund now and yet we keep adding to the pile.  We need to cut back and Congress needs to concern themselves with their constitutional responsibilities.  Who will handle the rest of this mess, you ask?  It seems our fathers already covered that contingency.

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution reserves all other powers not specifically mentioned for the states and the people:

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.

The Federal Government is now so large that its payroll has surpassed the private sector. This is not sustainable government: the parasite is choking its host. We must redesign the monster we have created or the Federal will destroy the American economic machine it claims to be supporting. I offer the following as food for thought:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

What have we done?

What ought we do to make it right again? How much of our General Welfare are we willing to shoulder and how much do we want to surrender to the Federal Machine? I submit that we have failed to take our own measure of responsibility in this regard and have become totally reliant on government to take care of us.  We have become morbidly obese, we need to get up off the government couch and get back to work.  Spending is wildly out of control.  Government has grossly overstepped its authorized powers.  We the people have the power and opportunity to change things yet again later this year.  It’s time to do major house cleaning.  Read, learn, become informed and replace them all with fresh bodies in November.  You have plenty of time between now and then to get educated on the candidates and find one to champion.

Return government to the people.

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