Publius-Huldah's Blog

Understanding the Constitution

How a Balanced Budget Amendment Would Give the Federal Government Lawful Power Over Whatever They Want

By Publius Huldah

Does our existing Constitution permit the federal government to spend money on whatever they want?

No! It contains precise limits on federal spending.

Federal spending is limited by the enumerated powers delegated to the federal government. If you go through the Constitution and highlight all the powers delegated to Congress and the President, you will get a complete list of the objects on which Congress is permitted to spend money. Here’s 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)

♦ 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 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 Marshals, federal judges, and the like for that Territory (Art. IV, §3, cl. 2).

That’s what Congress is authorized by our Constitution to spend money on. Did I leave anything out? Take a few minutes and, armed with a highlighter, read carefully through the Constitution and see for yourself.

Congress is to appropriate funds to carry out this handful of delegated powers; and it is to pay the bills with receipts from taxes. 1

Pursuant to Article I, §9, clause 7, the federal government is to periodically publish a Statement and Account of Receipts and Expenditures. Citizens could use this Statement and Account – which would be so short that everyone would have time to read it – to monitor the spending of their public servants.

So that’s how our existing Constitution limits federal spending:

♦ If it’s on the list of enumerated powers, Congress may lawfully spend money on it.

♦ But if it’s not on the list, Congress usurps powers not delegated when it appropriates money for it.

It was unconstitutional spending and unconstitutional promises (Social Security, Medicare, etc., etc., etc.) which got us a national debt of $19 trillion, plus a hundred trillion or so in unfunded liabilities.

Since the Constitution delegates to Congress only limited and narrowly defined authority to spend money; the Constitution doesn’t provide for a budget.

We never had a federal budget until Congress passed the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. By this time, the Progressives controlled both political parties and the federal government.

The Progressives wanted a federal budget because they wanted to spend money on objects which were not on the list of delegated powers.

A balanced budget amendment (BBA) would substitute a budget for the enumerated powers, and thus would legalize the current practice where Congress spends money on whatever they or the President put in the budget.

The result of a BBA is to change the constitutional standard for spending from whether the object is on the list of enumerated powers to a limit on the total amount of spending.

♦And to add insult to injury, the limits on spending are fictitious because they can be waived whenever Congress 2 votes to waive them.

And because a BBA would permit Congress to lawfully spend money on whatever is put in the budget, the powers of the federal government would be lawfully increased to include whatever THEY decide to put in the budget.

So a BBA would fundamentally transform our Constitution from one of enumerated powers only to one of general and unlimited powers – because the federal government would then be authorized by the Constitution to exercise power over ANY object they decide to put into the budget!

You must read proposed amendments and understand how they change our Constitution before you support them.

All federal and State officials take an oath to support the federal Constitution (Art. VI, clause 3). When people in Congress appropriate funds for objects not listed in the Constitution; and when State officials accept federal funds for objects not listed, they violate their oath to support the Constitution. According to the PEW Report, federal funds provided an average of 30% of the States’ revenue for FY 2013. Look up your State HERE. Were those federal funds used to implement unconstitutional federal programs in your State?

Power over education, medical care, agriculture, state and local law enforcement, environment, etc., is not delegated to the federal government: those powers are reserved by the States or the People. Congress spends on objects for which it has no constitutional authority; and bribes States with federal funds to induce them to implement unconstitutional federal programs. It was the unconstitutional spending which gave us this crushing $19 Trillion debt.

How do we go about downsizing the federal government to its constitutional limits?

We stop the unconstitutional and frivolous spending one can read about all over the internet.

We begin the shutdown of unconstitutional federal departments and agencies by selecting for immediate closure those which serve no useful purpose or cause actual harm such as the Departments of Energy, Education, Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency. 3

Other unconstitutional federal departments and agencies must be dismantled and their functions returned to the States or The People.

An orderly phase-out is required of those unconstitutional federal programs in which Citizens were forced to participate – such as social security and Medicare – so that the rug is not pulled out from American Citizens who became dependent.

The federal government is obligated (Art. I, §8, cl. 11-16) to provide for service related injuries suffered by our Veterans.

The Constitution delegates to Congress the power to appropriate funds for “post Roads” (Art. I, §8, cl. 7). While there may be room for argument as to what is included within the term, “post Road”; clearly, some federal involvement in road building is authorized by our Constitution. State dependence on federal highway funds might be reduced by eliminating or reducing federal fuel taxes, and the substitution of fuel taxes collected by individual States. And there is nothing immoral about toll roads.

Since our Constitution was written to delegate to the federal government only the few and defined powers enumerated in the Constitution, we don’t have to change the Constitution to rein in federal spending. The Constitution isn’t the problem – ignoring it is the problem. Let us begin to enforce the Constitution we have.

Endnotes:

1 Our original Constitution authorized only excise taxes & tariffs on imports (Art. I, §8, clause 1), with any shortfall being made up by an apportioned assessment on the States based on population (Art. I, §2, clause 3).

2 Compact for America’s (CFA) version of a BBA permits spending limits to be waived whenever Congress and 26 States agree. CFA’s version also authorizes Congress to impose a national sales tax and a national value added tax in addition to keeping the income tax! See THIS Paper.

3 George Washington’s Cabinet had four members: Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Secretary of Treasury, and Attorney General.

Feb 2, 2016

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February 2, 2016 - Posted by | Balanced Budget Amendment | , , ,

17 Comments »

  1. Does any of this really matter? We haven’t used the Constitution since Lincoln trashed it. Since politicians rule the Constitution has no real role in the government aside from protecting these pirates from serving time.

    Lets just trash it and start anew.

    Term limits.
    Budgets must be passed for a public vote by the citizens to approve.

    Taxes must be approved by a 60% vote of citizens.

    aNY TIME OVER SPENDING OCCURS THE POLITICIANS RESPONSIBLE SHALL BE IMPRISONED FOR A TERM NOT EXCEEDING TEN YEARS AND STRIPPED OF THEIR CITIZENSHIP AND PROHIBITED ALONG WITH ALL FAMILY MEMBERS FROM EVER HOLDING PUBLIC OFFICE OR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT.

    Like

    Comment by fERGUS FROM aYR | September 25, 2016 | Reply

    • So, do you really believe, in your heart of hearts, that you are right up there on the same educational and intellectual level as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison? That unlike them, you have the answers?

      I see those two as my teachers.

      Your proposals would legalize mob rule – the rule of the ignorant, the stupid and the greedy. The mob will always vote to get other peoples’ property.

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | September 25, 2016 | Reply

  2. The 990 IRS filing for 2013 show the Convention of States registered with the IRS as “John Hancock Committee for The States” and doing business as “Citizens For Self Governance. The total revenues for 2013 are reported as $2,254,811, Total expenses as $2,122,662 and the net assets as $44,944. Mark draws $181,880 per year from the organization as compensation. The EIN for this organization is 27-1657203

    Mark Mecker appears to be using the Convention of States for his own benefit.

    Like

    Comment by Jack oaklogman | February 3, 2016 | Reply

    • If I were selling something, I would sell only good stuff. I would never sell coke or heroin, no matter how much I got paid. But I would sell healthy organic produce.

      But some people will do anything for money – like Aldrich Ames, they will even sell out their Country. This Quote attributed to Cicero says it well:

      “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

      I submit that this describes those behind the push for an Art. V convention.

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | February 3, 2016 | Reply

  3. Your information is true and should be shouted in the halls of every policy making institution of America. That said, I think that even if it were, that our present Congress will continue it’s headlong plunge toward economic chaos..This I believe is because numerous members of Congress are participating in a scheme to destroy our economy so that the United States can be assimilated into a one world government.

    Like

    Comment by Henry Stevens | February 3, 2016 | Reply

    • Thank you, Henry! But since the doors of the policy making institutions in this Country are slammed shut to those who oppose their globalist agenda, we must focus on The People and State Legislators.

      So I assume you know about the proposed North American Union where Canada, the US, and Mexico merge and a Parliament is set up over them? And that Heidi Cruz was on the CFR Task Force which wrote the 2005 Report to help set this up? http://www.cfr.org/canada/building-north-american-community/p8102

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | February 3, 2016 | Reply

  4. Hi PH. I’m impressed with the comments. Your website is quite informative. You would would have done well at the Constitutional Convention with the Founding Fathers. Blessings. L. Consylman.

    Like

    Comment by Larry | February 2, 2016 | Reply

    • I’m honored – but I think I would have asked James Madison if I could have the honor of sharpening his quill pens, fetching for him ink, pitchers of ice water, and such. I was in that very room some 3 years ago – wonderful. I visited the Building where the Library was, Carpenters’ Hall, where the Continental Congress met. One of the best days of my life.

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | February 2, 2016 | Reply

  5. Good morning PH.

    It just so happens that I was on the GOP website within the last hour and noted that one of their “Principles for American Renewal” was this:

    “We need to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, make government more efficient, and leave the next generation with opportunity, not debt.” found here: https://gop.com/principles-for-american-renewal

    I love the way Judge Robert Bork described the BBA–“a Conservative Bromide,” a feel good act that misses the whole point, and has unintended consequences that are enormous…at least, we hope the easily foreseen consequences are unintended, but these days, ya just can’t be sure of that one.

    God bless
    MCE

    Like

    Comment by M. Craig Elachie | February 2, 2016 | Reply

    • Thanks, MCE – seeing your post lifted me up.
      This is about my 5th paper on the BBA – but people are either ignoring it or I am failing to communicate. How can I say it so that The Folks get it?
      I don’t expect the GOP to get it – they are on the side of the statists who want big government.
      Every day, I think more & more that Americans are dufflepuds: Ignorant and stupid – but vain and conceited.

      Like

      Comment by Publius Huldah | February 2, 2016 | Reply

      • Good morning

        Certainly, there is a percentage that “never gets the word,” or who hear it and simply do not understand or grasp the significance of what they hear, or just get distracted.

        Unfortunately, there are large numbers today who hear good arguments and view the evidence for them and still reject them as error, a much different problem, and this occurs with remarkable consistency (resulting in that unmistakable sense that they are from a different universe)..

        A significant sign of our times is that our populace can observe the same facts and draw conclusions that are near precise logical contradictions, time and time again. Same people glaring at each other over a fence.

        It is as if the two sides were both using proper deductive reasoning but each began with a different major premise.

        God bless
        MCE

        Like

        Comment by M. Craig Elachie | February 2, 2016 | Reply

        • I suspect they DON’T CARE whether it’s true or not. I suspect “truth” and “false” are irrelevant to them. All they care about is the result they want. Or they want an answer which lets them “feel good”. Or “justifies” a position they have already taken.

          Long ago, American judges STOPPED applying the Law to the Facts and coming up with an honest decision on the case before them. For a long time they have been deciding on the result they want and then writing an opinion to “justify” that result. About 45 years ago, one of my law professors said in class that this is what was done; but no one seemed shocked (but me), and the law professor smirked. Even so, I thought I must have misunderstood…..

          Like

          Comment by Publius Huldah | February 2, 2016 | Reply

          • Hi PH

            My friend, you obviously did NOT misunderstand the implication of that smirk.

            What few grasp in our day is that the kind of reasoning you described, the non-apologetic willingness to twist evidence and abandon good reason in order to justify a predetermined outcome is not limited to the law or courts…it saturates our society, law, science, religion, politics, business, etc, why, that “logic” is even taught in our schools as the proper way to think and reason in correspondence with a particular view of reality (that does not exist)…

            Its a mess, and so far, as a society, we have not even begun to nibble around the edges of the problem much less take it on full force.

            Years ago I read a book titled The Aquarian Conspiracy that included this observation:

            “A great shuddering, irrevocable shift is overtaking us. It is not a new political, religious, or economic system. It is a new mind – a turnabout in consciousness in critical numbers of individuals, a network powerful enough to bring about radical change in our culture.

            “This network – the Aquarian Conspiracy – has already enlisted the minds, hearts, and resources of some of our most advanced thinkers and steadily growing numbers from every corner of American society…

            A leaderless but powerful network is working to bring about radical change in the United States. Its members have broken with certain key elements of Western thought, and they may have even broken continuity with history.

            This network is the Aquarian Conspiracy.”
            .
            “Broken with certain key elements of Western Thought” indeed.
            God bless
            MCE

            Like

            Comment by M. Craig Elachie | February 2, 2016

          • I read some reviews of Aquarian Conspiracy. So! It appears that just as in Row v. Wade (1973) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003) where the US Supreme Court “liberated” us from the laws of morality, and elevated baby-killing and homosexual sodomy to “constitutional rights”; the Aquarian Conspirators “liberate” us from Reality itself! We’re “liberated” from the bondage of FACTS and the LAWS OF LOGIC!

            So if that is the new mindset of our Time – I now understand why the insane things going on now are happening.

            And so, the obvious question is: What do we do about it?

            Like

            Comment by Publius Huldah | February 2, 2016

          • Hi PH

            Re: “So if that is the new mindset of our Time – I now understand many things.”

            We are now talking about those underlying roots that bear a myriad of fruit, the foundations of rock or sand, or the leaven that changes the whole loaf. The precise same idea.

            As you know, our thinking is not free floating but is based on something—grounded if you will in some basic assumptions about the reality we live in. You hold and use the laws of logic–identity, non contradiction, excluded middle, because you understand that these laws represent the inherent nature of objective reality; that the facts of that objective reality do not contradict one another–ie that we live in a uni-verse, a unified diversity that is intelligible, etc. so, if you reasoning produces a contradiction, then you go back and make a correction. Standard stuff.

            This new mind described in Aquarian Conspiracy does NOT see reality that way at all, but rather as something chaotic at its ultimate, seething, ever changing. In such a reality,contradictions are NOT indicators of error but are just the way reality is, etc. Many assume we simply cannot know objective reality at all (though I notice they stop at RR Crossings), or that the universe is so huge anything they imagine actually exists out there somewhere no matter how ludicrous. .

            This is quite extraordinary, It started in the 1960’s, and we deal with the fruit of it today.

            Jeremiah was instructed to look and see if “a nation had changed its gods.” We have…for that is the core assumption. Not only does the Aquarian mindset seek to justify a certain predetermined conclusion, it seeks to avoid its contrary, the reality of the Biblical God to Whom we are responsible.

            There is a reason we are told “The fool has said in his hear there is no God.”

            God bless
            MCE

            Like

            Comment by M. Craig Elachie | February 2, 2016

          • Yes, you described perfectly how my mind works.

            BUT! It was easy to learn: My Papa taught me the standard logical fallacies when I was a child – AND I LEARNED THE REST BY READING NOVELS! Specifically, Ayn Rand’s novels.

            Anybody who wants to learn how to think honestly, can do it by reading Ayn Rand’s novels and by studying these two Logic Books for children: http://www.amazon.com/The-Fallacy-Detective-Thirty-Eight-Recognize/dp/0974531537

            Like

            Comment by Publius Huldah | February 3, 2016

          • Hi PH

            Re: “Anybody who wants to learn how to think honestly, can do it by reading Ayn Rand’s novels and by studying these two Logic Books for children…”

            If you will allow me to play the devil’s advocate for a moment.

            Why bother to study those books when Quantum Mechanics, a hard science, and in particular the two slot experiments, has proven scientifically that those things are invalid constructs…ie that the reality that kind of logic is based on does not exist, and even that the law of non contradiction is not valid…so, why study something that we now know is not true?

            I get that one continuously.
            God bless
            MCE

            Like

            Comment by M. Craig Elachie | February 3, 2016


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