Publius-Huldah's Blog

Understanding the Constitution

Balanced Budget Amendment: Why it is The WORST Idea Ever

By Publius Huldah.

Senator Jim DeMint (who should know better) is supporting The Balanced Budget Amendment.  Proponents of this “fix” trumpet these supposed benefits:   That the amendment would:

  • Require Congress to balance the federal budget each year
  • Prevent Congress from spending more than 20 percent of GDP
  • Require a 2/3 super-majority vote to raise taxes

But the actual result of the proposed amendment would be to finish off (with little hope of resuscitation) our existing Constitution of enumerated powers; and create a new system where Congress’ unconstitutional legislation & spending is legitimized – as long as it is no more than 20% of the GDP.

And since Congress, the executive branch and the judicial branch already ignore the limitations the existing Constitution places on their powers (they have no lawful authority outside of their enumerated powers);  it would be no time at all before they ignore the 20% limit on spending.  This “emergency” or that “emergency” would arise; and soon the 20% limit would be ignored as well.

Our Constitution Created a Limited Federal Government with Enumerated Powers.

With The Constitution, WE THE PEOPLE ordained and established a Federation of States which united for the LIMITED PURPOSES enumerated in the Constitution: national defense, international commerce & relations; and domestically, the establishment of an uniform commercial system:  Weights & measures, patents & copyrights, a monetary system based on gold & silver, bankruptcy laws, and mail delivery.  That’s about it! Read Art. I, Sec. 8, clauses 1-16, U.S. Constitution, and you will see for yourself how few are the powers delegated to Congress.

The Federalist Papers confirm that ours is a Constitution of enumerated powers only.  In Federalist No. 45 (9th para), James Madison, Father of the Constitution, says:

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.  The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people…”   [emphasis mine]

Do you see?  The objects on which Congress is authorized by the Constitution to make laws and spend money are few and enumerated. 1

Congress Violates the Existing Constitution by Legislating & Spending on Unconstitutional Objects.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to create and appropriate funds for the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Transportation; etc.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to appropriate funds for Independent Agencies and Government Corporations such as AMTRAK, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, African Development Foundation, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Railroad Retirement Board, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, Tennessee Valley Administration, etc.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to appropriate funds for the many Boards, Commissions, and Committees and various Quasi-Official Agencies.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to appropriate funds for pork barrel spending or for private concerns.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to appropriate funds for massive “entitlement” programs such as social security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to appropriate funds to bail out private businesses.

All these Departments, Agencies, Government corporations, Boards, Commissions, Committees, Bureaus, “entitlement programs”, Pork, and bailouts are unconstitutional as outside Congress’ Enumerated Powers.

It is this lawless & unconstitutional spending which gave us a national debt of over $14 Trillion – a debt which increases at the rate of over $4 Billion a day!  It is also this lawless & unconstitutional spending which has resulted in the federal government’s increasing interference in the most intimate aspects of our lives. With obamacare, it now claims the power to decide whether we receive, or are denied, medical care:  Who lives and who dies.

We can not starve The Beast if we give it a Constitutional Claim to 20% of GNP!

Think! Oh, you proponents of this truly terrible idea! According to this chart, the GNP for 2009 was $14.119 Trillion.  (And was it not the 16th Amendment [another “fix”] which made it possible for The Beast to grow as big as it has?)

Giving The Beast a constitutional claim to “only” 20% of the GNP will not reign it in.  We need to man up and face the real problem:  Congress legislates and spends money on objects for which it has no constitutional authority.

The Answer is to Strip the Beast of its Usurped Powers!

We must systematically dismantle the unconstitutional federal departments and agencies and programs.  Start by eliminating the Department of Education. [We are becoming a People notorious throughout the World for our Ignorance; so the sooner they are gone, the better.]  More departments can be eliminated outright; the functions of others transferred to the States, or privatized (private charities or enterprises).

The People, our elected officials, and appointed judges & officials are ignorant of The Constitution. Yet their hubris is so great [thanks to “self-esteem”- something which is taught in the government schools], 2 they run around proposing amendments to a document they don’t understand (and have most likely never read).

Our Framers were far better educated than we are today.  And unlike us, they knew how to think. We, today, can not improve on The Constitution which they, led by intellectual luminaries such as James Madison, took months, working full time, to draft.  In fact, our fiscal problems, and the increasing and systematic curtailments of our Freedoms, stem directly from our ignoring The Constitution they gave us.

As a People, we have developed a cowardly mindset where we refuse to address the causes of our problems.  We just want to treat the symptoms, blame-shift, and avoid the consequences.  If we are overweight, we don’t want to address our eating & exercise habits.  Oh no!  We want a “fix” – a pill; we blame our thyroid, our genes, or the medicine we are taking; and we want other people to pay the medical expenses resulting from our own destructive habits.  We apply this same destructive mindset to the Constitution.  Instead of manning up and facing the cause of our problems – which is that we want to live at other peoples’ expense, and so elect politicians who promise us Plunder – we want a “fix” which permits us to blame-shift:  It’s The Constitution’s fault!  So we go around proposing Amendments, the ramifications of which we do not understand.

We all need to Look in the Mirror.  Return to PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.  Restore our Constitution.  And Starve the Beast.

Endnotes

1 The Federalist Papers show again and again that ours is a Constitution of enumerated powers only.  For more citations and quotes, see Why States Must Nullify Unconstitutional Acts of Congress.

2 There are, of course, some great teachers in the government & labor union controlled public schools. But they are rare jewels. PH

February 23, 2011

POSTSCRIPT (Feb.  27, 2011)

Someone asked me the following excellent question:

“Why exactly would passing a balanced budget amendment lead to more unconstitutional spending?  If it is a duly-ratified amendment, then how would it authorize other spending that violates the other provisions of the Constitution?”

My answer:

My conclusion is based on 3 things:  A legal rule of construction, my knowledge of how lawyers & judges “think”, & my knowledge of human nature.

1. It boils down to this: Say you have a 16 year old daughter & tell her to abstain from sex until she is married.  Next week, you give her a bag of condoms & tell her you will give her such a bag every month.

2.  The “Rule of Construction” is this: When there are contradictory provisions, “…the last in order of time shall be preferred to the first.  But this is a mere rule of construction, not derived from any positive law, but from the nature and reason of the thing…”.  (Hamilton, Federalist No. 78, 12th para).

3.  For 41 years, legal “minds” have been the “minds” I know best.  The federal courts, Congress, & Executive Branch already ignore the essence of our Constitution, which is that it is one of enumerated powers only, and the list of objects on which Congress may lawfully appropriate funds is short.  The Balanced Budget Amendment does not address that unconstitutional spending. All it purports to do is limit that unconstitutional spending to “only” 20% of the GDP. But if Congress restricted its spending to its enumerated objects, it could not possibly spend such a large sum as 20% of the GDP!

If Congress made laws only on its enumerated powers, there would be so few federal statutes that most federal judges would have absolutely nothing to do – Congress could cut 99% of them.

The federal government established by our Constitution is very small and has power over only those 21 or so objects delegated to them.  In one of his 6 Papers on taxation, Hamilton says that the only significant expense of the federal government would be in times of War.

By not addressing Congress’ unconstitutional spending, & by approving the spending of 20% of the GDP – a sum Congress could not possibly consume if it were restricted to its constitutional powers - the balanced budget amendment impliedly repeals the enumerated powers aspect of our Constitution.  The rule of Construction mentioned by Hamilton would be applied, and our Constitution would no longer be one of enumerated powers – just one with a spending cap (which, of course, as  Mike Foil points out, can be exceeded in times of war, emergencies, when a certain number in Congress approve exceeding the 20%, etc.)

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February 23, 2011 - Posted by | Balanced Budget Amendment | , , , , ,

28 Comments »

  1. I sent this to Eric Cantor today and hope he may rethink his position on the unintended consequences of “Proposing A Balanced Budget Amendment To US Constitution”. We are watching and they need to know it.

    Could I please have your permission to print this up as a handout for our groups and events?

    God Bless and thank you so very much for the truth and wisdom that we can share. :o)

    Comment by Deborah Hughes | June 23, 2011 | Reply

    • You are most welcome, my dear. I am writing now another paper which focuses on Senate Joint Resolution 10, which is the version of the BBA which all 47 U.S. Senate Republicans have co-signed. It is even worse than Jim DeMint’s proposal. I hope to have that paper finished in a few days. And thank you for the encouragement!

      Comment by Publius/Huldah | June 23, 2011 | Reply

  2. Well said PH… The law IS the law. If the Feds followed the strict limitations of powers granted… Americans would most likely receive a check each year for surplus monies left over from the government’s budget.

    The EPA has got to be one of the worst! It not only kills jobs.. but promotes the like of wind farms… only to later block connecting the power generated… to the power grid to be utilized… mass insanity with billions of tax payer dollars

    Comment by Duke-Jinx | June 15, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes! The EPA is one of the agencies which could be shut down and eliminated completely today, and our Country would be a better & free-er place. Do I want dirty air & water? Of course not. But States could handle this, and citizens could return to the common law remedies of “trespass” and “nuisance”: E.g., You may burn tires on your land, but you don’t have the right to let the smoke “trespass” onto MY land. Such matters as pollution are LOCAL matters, and the common law remedies are adequate to deal with them.

      Social security, medicare & retirement pensions would need to be phased out gradually and dismantled in an orderly fashion so as not to pull the rug out from under elderly people who have become dependent on them and who have insufficient time to make other arrangements. I have renounced them both. I realize that not everyone is able to do that – but it would be a good sign for the Future of our Country if those who are able to would join me in this. Dr. Walter E. Williams has a proposal: Let the government give people plots of federally owned land in exchange for the monies they paid into ss & medicare, so as to eliminate the debt the government owes them.
      One day, some genius will discover a new power source. John Galt’s engine. But in the meantime, we have lots of existing and DOMESTIC power sources: coal, oil & gas. It is suicidal not to exploit these to the fullest. As you know. The people in the EPA are brainless twits who are harming the Country and throwing away their insignificant little lives by worrying about CO2 emissions! [You know, the “poison” which plants & trees need to do photosynthesis.]

      Comment by Publius/Huldah | June 15, 2011 | Reply

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  4. Checks and balances are a fine thing up to the point when the checkers become unbalanced. In the final analysis, it’s the American people who are the arbiters of the Constitution, & as long as we (‘we’ in the editorial sense, certainly not you, and I hope not I) continue to reward the violators by returning them to office, we will continue to slip-slide our way into servitude. This article stuck a hat pin in my thinking about a balanced budget amendment, so I owe you my thanks. Why guarantee Congressional spendthrifts 20% of GNP indeed. No matter what they spend, they always seem to want more. Time to cut their allowance & send ‘em to their rooms.

    Comment by Bob Mack | June 10, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes, I just saw today the feds are funding a study on the sex lives of menustrating monkeys, I think it is. Rush spoke today of how the feds spent a huge sum to get a fish painted on “Alaska Airline” plane(s). Reducing the funding for such idiotic programs is not the answer. Returning to enumerated powers is – and there is nothing in the list of enumerated powers about funding “scientific” studies or paying artists to paint stuff. The federal government’s sole power respecting science & technology and the arts is to issue patents & copyrights.

      Please help spread the word about the Balanced Budget Amendment – it is extremely dangerous and would completely change the character of our Country. Now, what they do is unlawful & unconstitutional and we can lawfully & morally resist. But with the BBA, it would all be lawful & constitutional, and we would have no grounds to resist. The BBA is a plot hatched in the pits of hell. But Jim DeMint is insulated from the World and I can’t get thru.

      Your post is clever – I do so enjoy plays on words.

      Comment by Publius/Huldah | June 11, 2011 | Reply

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  12. Yes- this is such a clear explanation of the ignorance we must see through. One would initially think- balanced budget is a good idea and I do believe DeMint is choosing the best of the worst in supporting this…It is too bad that he doesn’t understand that supporting any such authority is agreeing to it. Thank you for the clarity.

    Comment by LKennedy | March 6, 2011 | Reply

    • DeMint seems to be one of the best in the Senate. I expect he hasn’t thought this through: and that he doesn’t understand the concept of enumerated powers. So we must educate everyone we can – I even talk to strangers in lines, waiting rooms, etc. More people are interested than not.

      Comment by Publius/Huldah | March 6, 2011 | Reply

  13. […] By Publius Huldah. Senator Jim De Mint (who should know better) is supporting The Balanced Budget Amendment.  Proponents of this "fix" trumpet these supposed benefits:   That the amendment would: Require Congress to balance the federal budget each year Prevent Congress from spending more than 20 percent of GDP Require a 2/3 super-majority vote to raise taxes But the actual result of the proposed amendment would be to finish off (with little hope … Read More […]

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  16. Thanks for stimulating thinking among our citizens again PH.
    Once again you have clearly shown that we have either an education gap, or a stubborn defiance, or mostly likely both of these, among those we entrust to comply with, and enforce our Constitution as to both the letter of it, and it’s intent.
    While Senator DeMint has been an advocating leader for conserving our system of government, the amendment proposal mentioned would actually award additional power and legitimacy to the illegitimate activity engaged in by all three branches of government.
    When our Founders were given the unique opportunity to create a system of government that was both just and moral, they sided with the most important party…the individual. They found the best possible timeless solution for men that should be free, down to each and every individual, and balanced it with the need for some government to function as a society too.
    Everything in the design of those brilliant men was built upon the idea that all men are created equal, and have certain God given rights that other men could never legitimately write off or take from another. The protection of the individual and his rights– from those who would usurp those rights, especially a necessary government (which history showed them will eventually deny those rights, and replace them with man’s laws), was the intent of the resultant Constitution.
    As individuals, we have been assaulted with forced government provisions (too numerous to list) that have interfered with our rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and to our property. Even what we are allowed to say or think has come under attack by those who wish to usurp the individual completely, and to replace our rights with those they dictate to us.
    The Founders foresaw this, and did their best to guard against it, but they went a step further and told the people that ultimately “We the People” must also jealously guard our freedom and liberty, and live an honest and moral life, in order to preserve our own self-government, in a just and moral society, with the protection of rights to every individual.
    Our duty as citizens to heed their advice, is just as important now, as it was then.

    Comment by liberty4usa | February 24, 2011 | Reply

    • Your Words make me weep. Why is it that so few understand as you do? All this seems to me so obvious & self-evident – as it is to you.

      Comment by Publius/Huldah | February 24, 2011 | Reply

      • Thank you for all you do PH!

        Though I realize in your comment you asked a rhetorical question, as always, you provoked thought in my own mind.

        I just wanted to share something that was a bit of a major correction in my own view of what self-government means.

        Most of my adult life I was of the belief that the rulings of the Supreme Court were the final word in our governance.
        I thought whether or not I agreed with the majority opinion, that their findings were supreme, and that there was no higher authority in our nation, and no changing what they decided for us. I even stubbornly insisted this was a well-known fact.

        Then I read Mark Levin’s first book, “Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America,” which only was published in 2005

        Here is the link for an NRO article interviewing Mark on the book:
        nationalreview.com/articles/220356/

        I realized that my beliefs had been confused by what I heard in the media, or read in their papers, and what I did not learn in my education about our Constitution, and our representative Republic.

        I have since come to realize that, under God of course, “We the People” are the supreme power in our governance,and we have both the initial say, and the final word in what our government may do.

        Too many people think that because an office holder has been elected, or appointed to a position, that is the end of it. They think we are powerless until the next election, that we must accept whatever they produce in their terms in office as the will of the people. Even though they continuously and blatantly break their oaths to uphold the supreme law of the land.

        But “We the People” have a say before, during, and after lawmakers, law administrators and enforcers, or law interpreters take their actions.

        And what we need be saying, and demanding, at every stage, is the same message, “Follow the Constitution!”

        I believe like you do, that if every citizen truly understood what our Constitution means, and demands it be faithfully adhered to– in both the spirit, and the letter, then our big government would be restored to the one originally consented to by Americans. “We the People” created and ratified it in the first place, and none who act as our representative agents can change it without our consent. But they have.

        The individual prospers, as does our society when we are free. In fact, the entire world benefits when America stays on that track.
        It takes people realizing that there are no collective rights of one group or faction over another, our freedom is based on the same individual rights for all, and they are what God intended for all mankind.

        Comment by liberty4usa | February 26, 2011 | Reply

        • YEP! You nailed it! Now you understand. When the light comes on in my mind on an issue where I have been wrong, I get waves of “tingles” running up and down my spine and arms and legs, I get so excited and overjoyed.

          Hamilton has given us the BEST quotes in The Federalist Papers to show that an unconstitutional “law” is no “law” at all, but is “VOID”. He shows in Federalist No. 81 (8th para) that federal judges who usurp powers should be impeached & removed. This is Congresses’ check on the judicial branch. Hamilton shows in Federalist No. 66 (2nd para) that when the President usurps, he should be impeached. This is Congress’ check on the executive branch. There are many other such quotes in the Federalist Papers which salt & pepper my papers. WE THE PEOPLE are the final authority on the meaning of the Constitution – we just surrendered our authority to the judges. Of course, 99.999999% of the lawyers in this Country will insist that the supreme court IS the final authority. That’s what we were told in law school. They got conditioned & indoctrinated in law school. I didn’t!

          Rush Limbaugh & Gingrich are spreading some serious misinformation where they wrongly deny that the Executive Branch has any checks on Congress & the federal courts. I’ve written a little on this (I think there is a discussion on “checks & Balances” in the Constitution Study Group in Teapartynation.com But I will update that and publish it as a formal paper. I love Rush, but when he speaks on the Constitution, I cringe. He just repeats the mush which The Heritage Foundation puts out. Hugs, PH

          Comment by Publius/Huldah | February 26, 2011 | Reply

  17. GREAT ARTICLE!!!

    I am reposting this on my blogs.

    How can I get this in my local newspaper?

    Comment by topcat1957 | February 23, 2011 | Reply

    • If it’s a print newspaper (the ones on actual paper), I can email to you the MS Word version.

      If it’s online, I think you can just use the “print friendly” version at Canada Free Press and email it to your on-line newspaper.

      And Thanks! All this clamoring to amend the Constitution is a very bad thing. The only Amendments I would support are ones to repeal (for starters) the 16th & 17th Amendments.

      Comment by Publius/Huldah | February 23, 2011 | Reply


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