Publius-Huldah's Blog

Understanding the Constitution

States Need Budgets – but Enumerated Powers Limit Federal Spending

By Publius Huldah

We will never solve our political and fiscal problems if we continue in our present state of ignorance of the fundamental distinction between the federal Constitution and the State Constitutions.

With our federal Constitution, we created a national government to which we delegated only a handful of enumerated powers. If you would trouble yourself to read the federal Constitution, this fact would jump out at you and hit you over the head. [THIS simple chart will get you started.]

The federal government doesn’t need a budget because Congress’ spending is limited by the enumerated powers. Congress is to appropriate funds to carry out the handful of delegated powers, and then it is to pay the bills with receipts from taxes. 1

And if you read your State Constitution, you will see that those who ratified it [foolishly] created a State government of general and unlimited powers subject only to the exceptions carved out by its Declaration of Rights. 2

Since State governments were created to possess general and unlimited powers, State governments may lawfully spend money on just about anything they want. 2 Accordingly, State governments need budgets to limit their spending to receipts.

But Federal Spending is limited by the Enumerated Powers

The federal Constitution lists the items Congress is permitted to spend money on. If you read through the federal Constitution and highlight the powers delegated to Congress and the President, you will have a complete list of the objects on which Congress is lawfully authorized to spend money. Here is the list:

· The Census (Art. I, §2, cl. 3)
· Publishing the Journals of the House and Senate (Art. I, §5, cl. 3)
· Salaries of Senators and Representatives (Art. I, § 6, cl. 1)
· Salaries of civil officers of the United States (Art. I, §6, cl. 2 & Art. II, §1, cl. 7)
· Pay the Debts (Art. I, §8, cl. 1 & Art. VI, cl.1)
· Pay tax collectors (Art. I, §8, cl.1)
· Regulate commerce with foreign Nations, among the several States, and with Indian Tribes (Art. I, §8, cl.3) 3
· Immigration office (Art. I, §8, cl.4)
· The mint (Art. I, §8, cl. 5)
· Attorney General to handle the small amount of authorized federal litigation involving the national government e.g.,  Art. I, §8, cls. 6 & 10)
· Post offices & post roads (Art. I, §8, cl. 7)
· Patent & copyright office (Art. I, §8, cl. 8)
· Federal courts (Art. I, §8, cl. 9 & Art. III, §1)
· Military and Citizens’ Militia (Art. I, §8, cls. 11-16)
· Since Congress has general legislative authority over the federal enclaves listed in Art. I, §8, next to last clause, Congress has broad spending authority over the tiny geographical areas listed in this clause.
· The President’s entertainment expenses for foreign dignitaries (Art. II, §3); and
· Since Congress had general legislative authority over the Western Territory before it was broken up into States, Congress could appropriate funds for the US Marshalls, federal judges, and the like for that Territory (Art. IV, §3, cl. 2).

So! That’s about all Congress is authorized by our original Constitution to spend money on. 4 Did I leave anything out? To find out, take 20 minutes and, armed with a highlighter, read carefully through the original Constitution and see for yourself.

Let’s look at some of the appropriations bills passed by the First Congress: 5

HERE is the Act for the establishment and support of Lighthouses, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers, of August 7, 1789 (expenditure authorized by Art. I, §8, next to last clause);

HERE is the Act providing for the Expenses which may attend Negotiations or Treaties with the Indian Tribes, and the appointment of Commissioners for managing the same, of August 20, 1789 (expenditure authorized by Art. I, §8, clause 3 & Art. II, §2, cl. 2);

HERE is the Act providing for the establishment of the Post Office, of September 22, 1789 (expenditure authorized by Art. I, §8, cl. 7); and

HERE is the Act providing for the compensation of federal judges and the Attorney General, of September 23, 1789 (expenditure authorized by Art. III, §1 for the federal judges; & for the AG, Art. I, §6, cl. 2 & Art. II, §2, cl. 2 & Art. I, §8, last clause)

Read these appropriations bills: They are single subject, short, easy to understand, and illustrate how appropriations bills ought to be written.

So, do you see? Congress is to make the appropriations for the objects of the enumerated powers delegated to the national government.

Pursuant to Art. I, §9, clause 7, Congress is to periodically publish a Statement and Account of Receipts and Expenditures.

We don’t need a federal budget because the Constitution delegates to Congress only limited and narrowly defined authority to spend money.

Accordingly, the federal Constitution doesn’t provide for a Budget. We never had a federal budget until Congress passed the unconstitutional Budget and Accounting Act of 1921.

We got the crushing federal debt because for 100 years, Congress has been IGNORING the existing constitutional limits on its spending. Most of Congress’ spending is unconstitutional as outside the scope of the delegated powers.

The Answer to our political and fiscal problems is already laid out in the federal Constitution: Downsize the federal government to its enumerated powers and return the usurped powers to the States or the People.

Why are Some Pushing for a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA)?

Many of those clamoring for a federal BBA don’t know about the fundamental distinction between the federal and State Constitutions. But they want to do something about the out of control federal spending; they are told a BBA is the answer; and so, without giving it much thought, they jump on the bandwagon.

But others have an evil agenda in pushing for a BBA – an agenda so evil that if they disclosed it, most Americans would reject it:

All versions of a BBA transform our federal Constitution from one which created a national government with only a few enumerated powers to a national government of general and unlimited powers. This is because BBAs substitute a “budget” for the enumerated powers; and accordingly, the national government would become lawfully authorized by the Constitution to spend money on whatever they put in the Budget!

That unlimited spending power on whatever they want is what would transform the national government into one of general and unlimited powers.

To add insult to injury, while all versions of a BBA pretend to limit spending; they actually permit increases in spending and increases in debt whenever the government body votes to do so. 6

Conclusion

 When the history of our time is written, do not let it be said that the American People were too ignorant and lazy to be free. Do not let tricksters take away our glorious Heritage. Wake up! Stop applications for a convention for a BBA from being passed in your State. If your State has already passed such an application, urge your State legislators to rescind it.

Endnotes:

1 The constitutional powers of the national government were supposed to be exercised with the proceeds of excise taxes & impost tariffs, with any shortfall being made up by an apportioned assessment on the States based on population.

2 The powers of State governments are also restricted by the federal Constitution: The list of prohibited powers at Art. I, §10, and by those few powers delegated exclusively to the national government.

3 HERE is the proof of the original intent of the interstate commerce clause.

4 The 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 19th, 24th, and 26th Amendments increased the powers and spending of the federal government by expanding federal powers over the States and The People. It was necessary to amend the Constitution to remedy the defect of slavery and to extend citizenship to freed slaves; but there was a better way than the 13th -15th Amendments.

5 HERE is a helpful site for locating early Acts of Congress. Once you have the title and date of an Act, you can find the official source at the Library of Congress: e.g., THIS provides what one needs to find the official edition HERE.

6 Compact for America’s pretended BBA is actually a tricky device for imposing a national sales tax or value added tax on the American People – on top of the income tax – and does nothing to limit federal spending. Yet deluded State Legislators are now proposing it in Michigan as SB 306. You can find a short and simple section by section analysis of Compact for America’s BBA HERE.

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June 24, 2015 - Posted by | Balanced Budget Amendment, enumerated powers, Enumerated Powers of Congress | , , , , ,

30 Comments »

  1. […] Our Constitution limits federal spending to the enumerated powers. The list of objects on which Congress may lawfully spend money is a short list. See the list HERE. […]

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    Pingback by The Plot to Impose a National Sales Tax or Value Added Tax through an Article V Convention | Conservative Daily News | September 10, 2015 | Reply

  2. […] Our Constitution limits federal spending to the enumerated powers. The list of objects on which Congress may lawfully spend money is a short list. See the list HERE. […]

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    Pingback by The Plot to Impose a National Sales Tax or Value Added Tax « Publius-Huldah's Blog | August 26, 2015 | Reply

  3. That’s right, your readers need to study liberty for themselves, and not accept the opinions of others, such as you or I. They need to study the federalists and the antifederalist, Bastiat, Mills, locke, Mason, et al instead relying on cherry picked quotes to support a belief.

    Like

    Comment by Rob John | July 2, 2015 | Reply

    • But COS tells people that they should “believe” Michael Farris. And you “believe” him, right? Every word he says, right? Can you point to one thing Farris has said that you do NOT believe?

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | July 2, 2015 | Reply

    • Looks like you have much studying to do then and should keep you busy. If you already have, then reread it.

      Btw, here is my cherry picked quote.

      “The Grecians and Romans were strongly possessed of the spirit of liberty but not the principle, for at the time they were determined not to be slaves themselves, they employed their power to enslave the rest of mankind.” ~Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 5, 1778

      Like

      Comment by Blue Tail Gadfly | July 3, 2015 | Reply

      • Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think.

        Like

        Comment by Rob John | July 4, 2015 | Reply

        • Well, think about what you are saying:

          While it is certainly true that People ought to use their own heads and think for themselves, Americans have been so dumbed down that they do not know HOW to think. They don’t even know the difference between “facts” and “opinions”. They don’t know the difference between a “fact” and their own perverted interpretation of a fact. They don’t even know they are “interpreting” the fact. They don’t know even the basic rudiments of how to think – Logic is not taught in the schools. And the basic common sense built-in to mankind has been so thoroughly perverted by the government schools that Americans no longer have even “common sense”.

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          Comment by Publius Huldah | July 7, 2015 | Reply

      • The well-being of mankind depends on the freedom of opinion and the freedom of the expression of opinion.

        First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.

        Secondly, though the silenced opinion be in error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of the truth, and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.

        Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth, unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds.

        And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled. – John Stuart Mills

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        Comment by Rob John | July 4, 2015 | Reply

        • As a general Principle, free speech must not be suppressed by civil government. However, beware of making the expression of “opinion” an absolute good. Most peoples’ opinions aren’t worth a brass farthing. The following is attributed to Mark Twain in his Autobiography:

          “In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

          So while it is immoral for people to pontificate on matters of which they are ignorant, or to repeat what they have heard or been told without any independent understanding of what they heard or were told; governments must not – as a general principle – regulate speech – even ignorant speech.

          Like

          Comment by Publius Huldah | July 5, 2015 | Reply

        • Dear John…

          Since it is not in my power to silence you, nor do I wish to, I don’t understand your usage of that quote. Perhaps you could enlighten me and then defend it. Some of the questions I have concerning that quote are:

          Was Mills referring to governments or individuals?

          Are you implying that as individuals we should entertain foolishness and give every fool a soapbox indefinitely on the basis of possibly coming across some partial truths?

          Must we listen to every Marxist regurgitating the Communist Manifesto because there might be some undiscovered truth to be found?

          How can we ever progress if we are stuck in endless debate over things that have long been refuted?

          And what responsibility does the fool have in all this… none?

          If a fool continually wastes everyone’s time with nonsense, he only has himself to blame as to why no one will listen when he does stumble across certain truths here or there; for he has poisoned his own well. A story about a boy who cried wolf comes to mind…

          FYI, I will be out of town for a few days so please feel free to take as much time as needed in responding.

          Btw, since you have mentioned Mills on several different occasions, I am curious if you consider yourself a Utilitarian as he was, or to use your own words, merely “cherry picking” quotes also?

          ~BTG

          “And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter? ~John Milton, Areopagitica (1644)

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          Comment by Blue Tail Gadfly | July 6, 2015 | Reply

  4. Ms. Publius

    You spend so much effort thwarting a Convention. I was a State Director for “The Convention of States” and resigned my post not due to you, the Birchers and the Eaglets but because of the agendas amongst the numerous Article V movements. Unfortunately, there are too many who have their own personal gains, thus it will not happen. Even if the BBA were to get the 34 states needed why would the Federal Government not usurp the states power on this measure. I understand you all think your making the difference but your not. I asked you once before if not an Article V then what? You and all the anti Article V movers never do have an answer but I’ll give you some ammunition. Bankruptcy of the Federal Government is the only way the freedoms the founding fathers provided can be reestablished. As long as the federal government has the power of the purse the states will always beckon to its call whether it is for expanded medicaid, highway funds or military bases. With fiscal threats and spineless state leaders the powers will continue to be transferred to entities outside the writings of the Constitution.

    Unfortunately freedom and comfort are not one of the same! Those who have the most freedom would not be the most comfortable in the majority of the citizens eyes.

    Allen

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    Comment by Allen | July 1, 2015 | Reply

    • So! After all this time, you write to inform me that you have resigned as the COS Director for your State – but that I had nothing to do with your decision. Well, if I had nothing to do with your decision, and if I am generally ineffective, then why are you writing me?

      Personally, I think there is a little corner inside you which wants TRUTH, and you see that you can get TRUTH from me.

      As to the rightful remedy for federal usurpations? I have always said that nullification is the remedy our Framers advised: https://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/2015/05/03/nullification-the-original-right-of-self-defense/

      But our problem is the moral, spiritual, and intellectual collapse of the American People. There is no political solution to our problems. A moral regeneration is required. And if The People will not willingly undergo this moral regeneration now, then God will force it on them via the collapse of this Country and civil war.

      You mentioned spineless state leaders: Yes, many are spineless. That is why an Article V convention is the worst idea since Sin. This is the most immoral & corrupt time in our history. Insanity everywhere. It’s no time to be tinkering with our Constitution.

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | July 2, 2015 | Reply

      • ridiculous, I’d love to debate your position in public.

        Like

        Comment by Rob John | July 2, 2015 | Reply

        • Would YOU be the one whose lunch I don’t eat? Really?

          Like

          Comment by Publius Huldah | July 2, 2015 | Reply

          • Yes you’d be given a dose of reality and civility. I’d do it for the sake of those you are misinforming. The best anyone can do is read about liberty for themselves instead of trusting you or I.

            Like

            Comment by Rob John | July 2, 2015

          • ummm, “trusting” takes the accusative – so that would be “instead of trusting you or me“.

            Like

            Comment by Publius Huldah | July 2, 2015

  5. Excellent teaching, and many thanks to you, Publius Huldah!

    Like

    Comment by Larry | June 29, 2015 | Reply

    • You are welcome! Any time! At your service.

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | June 29, 2015 | Reply

      • I wonder how nullification can be used to prevent perverted laws and unjust judicial decisions by the federal government?

        Like

        Comment by Rob John | June 29, 2015 | Reply

        • if you hadn’t rejected knowledge, you would know the answers.

          Like

          Comment by Publius Huldah | June 29, 2015 | Reply

          • Nice of you to erase my reply, I guess your beliefs can’t stand up to different opinions. A person who truly searches for the truth will always invite contrary opinions.

            Like

            Comment by Rob John | June 30, 2015

          • Erased your reply? You really ARE nuts!

            Like

            Comment by Publius Huldah | June 30, 2015

  6. Hi PH

    Re: Conclusion

    Daniel Webster gave a similar warning in his address to the New York Historical Society in 1852.

    “We may trust, that Heaven will not forsake us, nor permit us to forsake ourselves. We must strengthen ourselves, and gird up our loins with new resolution; we must counsel each other; and, determined to sustain each other in the support of the Constitution, prepare to meet manfully, and united, whatever of difficulty, or of danger, whatever of effort, or of sacrifice, the Providence of God may call upon us to meet. Are we of this generation so derelict, have we so little of the blood of our revolutionary fathers coursing through our veins, that we cannot preserve, what they achieved?

    The world will cry out “SHAME” upon us, if we show ourselves unworthy, to be the descendants of those great and illustrious men, who fought for their liberty, and secured it to their posterity, by the Constitution of the United States.”

    Mr. Webster goes on to describe the makeup of COS to a T.

    “The Constitution has enemies, secret and professed; but they cannot disguise the fact, that it secures us many benefits. These enemies are unlike in character, but they act for the same purpose. Some of them are enthusiasts, self-sufficient and head-strong. They fancy that they can strike out for themselves a better path, than that laid down for them… Heat, in the intellectual constitution of these enthusiasts, is distributed just exactly as it should be; they have hot heads and cold hearts. They are rash, reckless, and fierce for change, and with no affection for the existing institutions of their country.

    Other enemies there are, more cool, and with more calculation. These have a deeper and more fixed and dangerous purpose…

    … There are those in the country, who profess, in their own words, even to hate the Constitution…”

    Some things never change.

    ~BTG

    Like

    Comment by Blue Tail Gadfly | June 24, 2015 | Reply

    • Daniel Webster could write and could speak! Amazing – what a gift he had!

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | June 24, 2015 | Reply

  7. A couple things:

    1. Great comment by wisdomdepot below. I would add and to and subtract from it a single thing in both instances:
    (a) I think in very recent years Oklahoma seems very often to have shown even more backbone than the 3 states mentioned, and (b) the Heritage foundation has demonstrated to my satisfaction that it is NOT on our side, that it’s populated pretty densely with neocons, and that it needs to be removed from wisdomdepot’s list of the constitution’s friends.

    2. Once again PH has given us an example of her conscientiously thought out and rigorously logical thinking, her ability to zero in on, clearly identify, and then explain simply a fact that is crucial achieving a thorough understanding of our form of government. What she points out is one of those “common” perception that are “simple & obvious” — AFTER they’re pointed out; it’s one of thoe things that’s SO “simple & obvious” that it actually slides by UN-noticed and UN-observed by most people — it raises no glaring red flags and sounds no trumpets. That’s possibly because it is a comparison between TWO things (state AND federal gov’t attributes) which are not usually encountered side-by-side. Therefore . . .

    Before ending this comment I feel duty bound to add tthat I’m pleased by and grateful for having access to PH’s incisive analyses of her subject matter and — particularly as is evidenced by this article — her ability to perceive, point out to the rest of us, and simply explain so many correct perspectives on the issues affecting our nation, its govenment, its history, etc. I’ve long had almost all the factual knowledge necessary to make the observation her article makes, but the implications of the connections amongst them never quite “registered” with me. I knew even the reasons why a federal BBA would be disastrous. But the very simple and VERY POWERFUL — despite its simplicity (once it registers with you!!) — observation PH makes in this paper is a connection I never made or suspected.

    “Knowledge is power.” And the spread of knowledge is accelerated by good teachers. PH not only uncovers knowledge for many, but she has unusual skill at teaching it so that it becomes USABLE knowledge for anyone fortunate enough to become exposed to it through her. So — for several now-obvious reasons — I’ll add just one more word, addressed just to PH: “THANKS !!”

    Like

    Comment by Morry Markovitz | June 24, 2015 | Reply

    • Well, thank you!
      And yes, Heritage Foundation is not helping us. People get neutralized from effective action by relying on Heritage Foundation.

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | June 24, 2015 | Reply

  8. I completely agree with your interpretation of authorized spending. But a budget is necessary to operate any goverent. It’s ludicrous to think otherwise.

    Like

    Comment by Rob John | June 24, 2015 | Reply

    • If Congress restricted its spending to the enumerated powers, explain WHY a “budget” would be needed. Explain what function a budget would serve.

      The idea of the Constitution is that Congress would make the needed and constitutional appropriations; and then raise the tax money needed to pay the bills. For that, no “budget” is needed.

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | June 24, 2015 | Reply

  9. Breathtakingly absurd what a century of Progressives can accomplish. What to do when the chief violators of the law write the laws? I seriously doubt we as a free people can endure another decade. We have entered a rapid deterioration period. Unless we reign in an out of control federal bureaucracy we seemed doomed to failure as a country. I firmly believe it will take Texas, Alabama and South Carolina to lead the way. In my lifetime these states show the most backbone. And it WILL take the States standing up. Once again PH has hit the proverbial nail on its painful head. “Washington, heal thy self” will never work. The lame, power-hungry vermin that make up our elected government in DC are totally incapable of even seeing the problem. The AM radio talking heads and, for the most part, all watchdog groups are self aggrandizing and blinded by proximity; respectively, to account for any measure of substantive corrective measures to restore our Constitution. This so reminds me of an addict. The addict cannot have the live saving measures thrust upon him. He must have endured “enough pain” to not simply desire a change but become feverishly overcome with its pursuit. America has spent a century at the Opium trough of liberalism. The Kool-Aid and candy handouts and mind-numbing media have worked their course. The only real salvation I see comes from the likes of PH. People who selflessly spend years researching, explaining and enlightening. The efforts under way with the likes of The Heritage Foundation, The American Policy Roundtable and Hillsdale College can make a difference. Educate the masses. Send DC back to school. Article 1 First! Term Limits! Get involved with these people and quit wasting your collective time, talent and money with the likes of Limbaugh, Levin, Hannity et el. Personally I am sick to the core with the business as usual, lobbyist / PAC beholding, mainstream media deluded, I’m a Reagan Conservative, spineless party we have representing us. TPA is exposing these representatives for what they really are. Sam Adams where are you now? We need something like a laser focused grassroots 10 point simple to comprehend and implement plan of attack with everyone on board.

    PH – I so applaud your efforts and pray for you daily. As the boyz-n-da-hood u’d say… wez n deep dodo… and that’s all I got to say ’bout that. Rant off.

    Like

    Comment by wisdomdepot | June 24, 2015 | Reply

    • Thank you, Wisdom! You encourage me and help me keep going. Really.
      The conservatives have been divided by the left. Getting an Article V convention was always the project of the left. It was the conservatives who defeated it.
      So THIS time, the left changed their marketing strategy: This time they are marketing it to appeal to “conservatives”. And these “conservatives” are so ignorant that they are falling for it.
      Furthermore, the left has succeeded in dividing the conservatives. The left has taught conservatives who fell for their marketing ploy to hate and revile conservatives who did not fall for it.
      These are classic leftist tactics. As I suspect the lefties who post here are well aware. They may chortle with glee now – but that is because they do not know what always happens to the useful idiots when the revolution is secure…..

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | June 24, 2015 | Reply


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