Posts Tagged ‘fourteenth amendment’

Republicans defy ethics, duty, and the Constitution as they bargain over raising the debt ceiling

July 4, 2011

Republican opposition to raising the national debt ceiling calls for a stronger word than just ‘unethical.’ Irresponsible? Ugly? Dishonest? Maybe even unconstitutional, since the Fourteenth Amendment states, in Section 4,

“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

The Republicans are trying to frame the argument as one of big government vs small government. But that’s false. The question is, does the government meet its obligations, all of which were authorized by law, that is, by Congress, in accordance with the Constitution. Every dollar of obligation was accrued in accordance with Congress’s direction; every government bond, every social security payment, every soldier’s pay, every bullet purchased…you get the idea.

House Speaker John Boehner has said that of course the debt ceiling would be raised, but now seems to be going back on that position to accommodate some in his caucus who have no sense off duty, no responsibility to govern.

If the Republicans continue questioning the public debt they’re inviting, in the words of The Economist, “ incalculable consequences for the world economy as well as America’s…That strikes some Americans as nothing less than blackmail.”

If the President continues to play their game he’ll be giving in to their blackmail and will have abandoned his responsibility to govern.

Which Constitution do you like: the real one or the edited one?

January 9, 2011

 

The new Republican leadership of the House of Representatives opened the new 112th Congress with a reading of the Constitution that they are sworn to support and defend. Some Members on both sides tried to make political hay out of the action, but for the most part it was a bipartisan effort that served to remind all of what they were there for.

But purposely the document they read wasn’t the Constitution of the United States, but an edited, modernized version. The original, housed in the Archives of the United States, spells out the method for apportioning congressional seats in Article I, Section 2:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

“Three fifths of all other Persons.” Those “other Persons” meant slaves. The formula was changed by the fourteenth amendment, which ended slavery and, eliminated the three-fifths language.

Why would anybody bowdlerize the Constitution? Simple—it’s to maintain the fiction that the founders had perfect foresight, and that their language—or their omissions—must be followed slavishly for all time. And so, for example, since they didn’t allow the federal government to require Americans to buy health insurance, then the health care law must be unconstitutional. And so, for another example (more…)


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