Posts Tagged ‘Republican leadership’

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…)

One-term Obama can bring effective and ethical government to Washington

December 2, 2010

Barack Obama ran for President on a platform of hope and change. While he’s delivered a lot of big things—saving the economy, delivering near-universal health care, beginning to restore America’s reputation abroad, and beginning an end to two wars—he hasn’t begun to change the ways of Washington. His latest attempt lasted only a few hours, before the Republican leadership announced its determination to stop everything unless it got what it demanded in the form of a $700 billion tax break for the rich and super rich.

So what’s an ethical President to do when his attempts at compromise and progress are blocked by House minority leader John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who announced on the eve of the 2010 election, ‘The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.”

More important than the managing the budget crisis, more important than ratifying the START Treaty with Russia, more important than reducing the obscenely high unemployment rate, even more important than tax relief for billionaires!

The answer for the President is staring right at him: give McConnell what he wants most of all, in return for the change Obama promised. Here’s how this grand compromise might work: Obama promises not to run for re-election. In exchange McConnell and Boehner promise to work with the Democratic leadership to achieve:

  • Long-term deficit reduction equivalent to that in the report of the bipartisan deficit commission
  • An economic package, including extension of the Bush tax cuts for (more…)

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