Monday, November 23, 2009

A progressive noose around the neck of American Freedom

For most of the first 125 years of its existence the United States had no income tax. The exception being the years between 1861 & 1866 where an income tax was levied to finance the Civil War. Everything changed in 1913 when the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

As a result of that Amendment, in October of 1913 President Wilson signed the Tariff Act, which instituted a 2% tax on Americans earning over $4,000 a year (about $88,000 today). Almost 100 years later, from those 30 words we have a 30,000,000 word IRS tax code that rounds out at more than 60,000 pages, gives some people tax rebates for taxes they never paid while others are taxed at almost 50% of their income.

To put the effects of this 60,000 page leviathan in perspective, consider this: Americans waste over a half a trillion dollars every year due to inefficiency and trying to comply with the statute’s labyrinthian language. And that doesn’t include the actual taxes themselves! Imagine trying to run a business where, in order to stay out of prison you had to swear that you are complying with the 60,000 pages of the Terms and Conditions notice that come with a credit card. That’s our tax code, only it’s even more confusing.

This post is not a simple attempt to vilify the tax code, although it deserves that and much more. Rather, it is intended to do one thing… Focus attention on the single biggest threat to our freedom that has ever existed… ObamaCare. But not for the reason that one might think. While the legislation itself is sufficiently onerous that anyone with half a functioning brain recognizes that it’s a recipe for disaster, the truth is, ObamaCare is merely a symptom of the problem. The real danger is tangential to the legislation itself. Here’s why…

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, was recently queried by a reporter as to where in the Constitution does it say Congress can force Americans to purchase health insurance. The Speaker responded condescendingly with “Are you serious?” and refused to answer the question.

Steny Hoyer, her second in command was not so evasive. He stated in answer to a similar question: "Well, in promoting the general welfare the Constitution obviously gives broad authority to Congress to effect [a mandate that individuals must buy health insurance]. The end that we're trying to effect is to make health care affordable, so I think clearly this is within our constitutional responsibility." The clause in the Constitution to which he is referring is the “General Welfare Clause”.

Article I - Section 8 - Powers of Congress
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; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

It might not sound like it, but Hoyer’s statement represents the single biggest threat to American freedom we have ever witnessed on our shores. What Rep. Hoyer is saying, in effect, is that the Welfare Clause gives the government the ability to force Americans to do anything he, Speaker Pelosi and President Obama decide “provides for…the general Welfare”.

Rep. Hoyer’s suggestion would come as a great surprise to the people who actually wrote the Constitution. The Father of the Constitution, James Madison, was quite clear when he wrote: "With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."

Madison is saying that the Welfare Clause is an idea that is to be furthered by the enumerated list of powers that followed it: Borrow money, Establish a patent system, Declare war, etc.

Let’s be clear, what Rep. Hoyer is suggesting is that the there is no limit to what the government can do to us. How many things have you heard of over the last 15 years that have included some special interest group railing about this or that “epidemic” or danger and suggesting the government needs to step in and save us from ourselves? They can tell us to stop eating Big Macs and Oreos because of the obesity epidemic. They can make us stop smoking inside our own houses or in our back yards or anyplace where children might be present. They can force us to buy GM cars so the company can pay the government back. They can tell us who we can listen to on the radio or watch on TV. They can ban Tea Parties because attendees are “extremists”. There are no limits...

If Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama are able to twist the Constitution into such a pretzel that it incorporates the most private areas of our lives – our relationship with our doctors – then it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch for them to insert themselves between us and our waiter, us and our lover or spouse, us and our children, us and our friends or us and our priest, our reverend or anyone else with a beating heart.

It took a century for the 30 words of the 16th Amendment to metastasize into a 30 million word hammer that is today wielded by a legion of nameless faceless lobbyists and bureaucrats. How long will it take Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama to weave the Welfare Clause into a progressive noose around the neck of American freedom? With the 2,000 pages and 1,000,000 words of ObamaCare and its threat of prison if you don’t comply, they are already well on their way…