Critical legislation is being drafted, reviewed, written about, praised, slammed, publicized and soon… voted upon.
Some of this legislation, Health Care Reform and Cap and Trade, has brought a groundswell of criticism from conservative Americans – soon after, criticisms of the criticism by liberals.
Why have conservatives suddenly become so aware, so vocal, so active? Many conservatives simply understand that these bills represent the largest threat to the United States Constitution in history. Not only do conservatives recognize that the systematic shredding of our nation’s framework is happening, they recognize their patriotic duty to prevent it.
First, certain amendments to the constitution make specific who or what should have certain powers when congress does not. The constitution purposefully limits the role of the federal government by saying in the tenth amendment :
“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.”
This amendment limits the federal government to only those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution. So how does the federal government have the power to run an automobile manufacturer, health care insurance exchange, carbon credit exchange, or the method by which companies unionize? They don’t.
If we examine the enumerated powers of Congress in article I, section 8 of the Constitution. Two paragraphs are most-often used to mistakenly justify congressional activities that should instead be allocated to individuals or the states.
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
The most controversial part of this clause is not “general welfare” as many liberal policy-makers and supporters would have us believe. Debating the definition of general welfare is unnecessary as this clause does not give Congress the power to provide for the general welfare, it qualifies the power to tax for such a purpose. There is a key distinction that Thomas Jefferson made when he wrote, “They [Congress] are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose”.
So what is a constitutional method for laying taxes to provide for the general welfare? Medicaid was enacted by having the federal government levy taxes without providing the actual service. The States provide the service in a manner consistent with their ideologies and are supported by the taxing power of the Congress. That is the only manner in which Congress has any authority over the welfare of citizens – to levy taxes.
Finally conservative leaders are starting to assert the principals present in our constitution in order to preserve our most precious union. In Georgia, conservative members of the state legislature are seeking to challenge the health care reform legislation. By asserting the tenth amendment, the state is making the case that since neither medical procedures, insurance nor pharmaceuticals are enumerated powers of the federal government, they must be left to the states or individuals and that the federal government can pass no laws that infringe upon those rights. Several other states are considering or have passed “Sovereignty Resolutions” to strengthen their rights under the tenth amendment.
The arguments against conservatives are that they have not provided feedback into the legislation and are only saying “no”. Of course they are just saying no, there is no way to constitutionally enact “the public option” in the health care bill nor the creation of a federal exchange for the sale and purchase of carbon credits that the cap and trade bill represents.
Any legislation that attempts to add to the powers of the federal government is an infringement on the rights of every American as afforded to us by the constitution. Protecting state and individual rights is a much more important responsibility than enacting any federal entitlement. We pray our conservative leaders have found this age-old responsibility to be of the highest priority. The alternative is that the country we were given could be lost – or more concisely – taken from us.
1 - 3 Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Library Edition, 1904)