Today, the new House Republican leadership will spend two hours on the House floor reading the Constitution.
This will be one of many acts from the House Republicans over the next two years which will not create any jobs.
But I am hopeful that those doing the reading – especially those who have been ignorantly screeching that everything from the minimum wage to the EPA is unconstitutional — will actually learn something.
The Founders put some words in, and left some words out, that might surprise those Tea Party conservatives, even though they claim to walk around with the Constitution in their shirt pockets.
WORDS THAT ARE NOT IN THE CONSTITUTION
Conservatives are often complaining that Congress is bringing up issues not explicitly address by name in the Constitution. So they might be interested to find what other words our Founders did not include.
Apparently, our Founders saw no reason to say that the document serving as the basis of our nation was produced, established, shaped or inspired by a supernatural power.
There’s lots of stuff about the rights of people and citizens, but oddly, nothing about corporations having rights of their own.
I guess our Founders didn’t see the institution of marriage to be so sanctified that it required a constitutional definition of who was allowed to join it.
That whole concept of a congressional minority having unlimited power to prevent the majority from doing anything at all? Not Thomas Jefferson’s idea!
That’s right. The Founders never explicitly said Congress could give massive subsidies to nuclear power generators. What, you say it’s unfair of me to include a word that wasn’t in existence in the 18th century? Hey if the Founders wanted a governing document with broad language that could be adapted to changing times, then they could have, oh, wait…
WORDS THAT ARE IN THE CONSTITUTION
Meanwhile, conservatives might be very surprised to find out what the Founders empowered our democratically elected Congress to be able to do.
“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”
Ack! It turns out that the Founders not only empowered Congress to levy taxes, but also to use those tax dollars to “provide” for “general welfare.”
It’s almost as if our Founders wanted Congress to — *shudder* — spread the wealth around.
“The Congress shall have Power … To borrow money on the credit of the United States;”
Not only did the Founders fail to insist the federal budget be balanced regardless of economic conditions, they expressly empowered Congress to “borrow money,” on top of collecting taxes!
I can only presume the Founders thought that borrowed money could also be used for this “general welfare” thing.
“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived.”
Later on, the country even decided to amend the Constitution and clarify that Congress could tax wealthier people more than poorer people. And the Founders let them do it — by creating an entire process for amending the Constitution long after they were dead!
“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States…”
It gets crazier! The federal Congress apparently has the power to “regulate Commerce” throughout the country.
Commerce! Do you realize how big that word is? According the Webster’s Dictionary, that means “goods,” “wares,” “productions” and “property.” You can dictate how much wages people should be paid for their services. You can prevent people from refusing to provide services to others based on their race or sex.
And Founders made no attempt to narrow the definition. It’s like they wanted a democratically elected Congress to have all this power.
“To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers…”
Oy! The nail in the conservative coffin. The Founders said Congress could pass whatever laws it deemed “necessary and proper” in order to “provide” the “general welfare” and “regulate Commerce.”
And all of that is mainly in Article I. I’ll be curious to see if the conservatives on the House floor make it Article II before they give up and renounce America.