Henry Lamb
Limiting congressional power
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By Henry Lamb
January 17, 2010

Power corrupts. Power in Congress corrupts Congress. In hopes of preventing, or at least minimizing congressional corruption, the nation's framers carefully limited the power of Congress to those specific powers set forth in Article 1, Section 8. The 10th Amendment makes it impossible to misinterpret the limitation of congressional power by expressly stating that all power not granted to the United States by the Constitution is retained by the states or by the people.

The House of Representatives once recognized this limitation and included this language in their rules of procedure:

    "Each report of a committee on a public bill or public joint resolution shall contain the following: A statement citing the specific powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the law proposed by the bill or joint resolution."

Congress lived within its limitation generally speaking until Roosevelt's Democratic tsunami. Roosevelt's "New Deal" trashed the Constitution nearly as badly as Obama's current "Raw Deal." The Supreme Court ruled a dozen of Roosevelt's new laws unconstitutional. Furious, Roosevelt set out to pack the court, proposing legislation that would let him appoint six new justices. His legislation failed, but it frightened the Supreme Court so badly that not another piece of legislation was ruled unconstitutional for 60 years.

The Supreme Court did vote 5-4 to uphold the Social Security Act [Steward Machine Company v. Davis] which, in effect, extended the "general welfare" clause beyond the enumerated powers. Since that 1937 decision, both parties have ignored the concept of limited government, and mangled the Constitution in the process.

Interestingly, Obama's pledge to "fundamentally transform the United States of America," includes the transformation of the Supreme Court. There has not been a lot of publicity, yet, but a lot of important Obama-backers are weighing in to http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/judiciary-act-of-2009.doc>transform the Court into another tool for their use.

The debate over the limitation of congressional power goes all the way back to Alexander Hamilton, who believed that the "general welfare clause" did extend congressional power beyond those enumerated. James Madison, on the other hand, told his friend Henry Lee, that if there were no limits on Congress that the Constitution might as well be thrown into the fire.

Honest people who care about the Constitution will pray to understand and apply its great principles accurately. Power-hungry politicians corrupt the Constitution when they twist and stretch its meaning to apply the power of government to achieve their personal goals.

Politicians who claim that the "general welfare clause" empowers Congress to enact the health care bill currently under consideration stand on very thin ice. If the founders had intended the "general welfare clause" to extend congressional power to any whim a congressman might have, why would they have bothered to list the remaining 16 enumerated powers?

A completely separate argument can be made, that should Obama's health care bill be enacted, it would not promote the general welfare, but instead, it would diminish the general welfare by forcing the rationing of health care and increasing the cost.

The most important issue, however, goes beyond the health care bill, and beyond the carbon-reduction schemes under consideration. The most important issue that every politician, and every voter, must confront is this: will the United States remain a nation under God, and under the Constitution, or will Obama and his Marxist majority be allowed to "fundamentally transform" it into his vision of a "redistributive" society under his direct administrative control?

This question will be answered, in part, on November 2, 2010, when the people choose America's future. The presidential election in 2012 will either dump the would-be dictator, or crown him. At this point in time, a clear prediction is not possible.

Progressives, who advance Marxist policies, are hiring and army, gearing up from the ground up, hiring "community organizers" in 32 communities across the country.

Conservatives, who believe the Constitution limits congressional power, are working without the benefit of foundation or federal grants, to inform and involve their neighbors in a campaign to oust Marxist incumbents, and replace them with candidates who want to retain the Constitution, with its limitation on congressional power.

America's future is truly in the balance. Not since Roosevelt, have we had a Marxist in the White House and in control of both houses of Congress. If they have their way, America will be transformed into another Marxist society subject to the whims of its leaders, en route to inevitable economic disaster.

To separate those candidates who say they will defend the Constitution from those who really will, every candidate should sign a pledge to support only legislation that explicitly cites its Constitutional authority. Any candidate, including incumbents, who will not make this pledge has no business in Washington. It is the people's business to see that they stay home.

© Henry Lamb

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

 

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