By Publius Huldah
The BBA Made Simple
Say you want your Butler to buy some groceries; so you give him your credit card. You can:
1. Give him an ENUMERATED LIST of what you want him to buy: 1 chicken, 5# of apples, two heads of cabbage, a 2# sack of brown rice, and a dozen eggs. Whatever amount he spends for these enumerated items will be charged to you.
2. Tell him he may spend on whatever he wants, and ask him to please don’t spend more than 18% of your weekly income. But whatever amount he decides to spend (on pork and other things) will be charged to you.
The first illustrates how our Constitution is written: The items on which Congress is authorized to spend money are listed – enumerated – in the Constitution. To see the list, go HERE.
The second illustrates how a balanced budget amendment (BBA) works: It creates a completely new constitutional authority to spend on whatever the federal government wants to spend money on. And there is no enforceable limit on the amount of spending.
Our Constitution Limits Spending to the Enumerated Powers
Our Constitution doesn’t permit the federal government to spend money on whatever they want. If Congress obeyed our Constitution, they would limit spending to the enumerated powers listed in the Constitution. Since the Constitution delegates to Congress only limited and narrowly defined authority to spend money, excessive federal spending is not the result of a defective Constitution, but of disregarding the existing constitutional limitations on federal spending.
Because everyone has ignored these existing limitations for so long, we now have a national debt of some $20 trillion plus a hundred or so trillion in unfunded liabilities. 1
Various factions are now telling conservatives that the only way to stop out of control federal spending is with a BBA.
Obviously, that is not true. The constitutional answer is to downsize the federal government to its enumerated powers. Eliminate federal departments (Education, Energy, Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development, etc., etc., etc.), for which there is no constitutional authority. 2
Since our Constitution delegates only a handful of powers to the federal government, most of what they’ve spent money on since the early 1900s is unconstitutional as outside the scope of powers delegated.
Yet our Constitution is still legally in place; and can be dusted off, read, and enforced by a Repentant People. They can shrink the federal government to the size established by the Constitution which created it. 3
Using the Federal “Budget” to Snap the Trap on an Unsuspecting People
Our Constitution doesn’t provide for a budget.
Spending is to be limited by the enumerated powers. Pursuant to Art. I, §9, clause 7, the Treasury is to publish periodic Statements and Accounts of the Receipts and Expenditures. Since the list of objects on which Congress is authorized to spend money is so short, it would be a simple matter to monitor federal spending and receipts.
But since the unconstitutional Budget & Accounting Act of 1921, Presidents and Congress have been putting into the “budget” whatever they want to spend money on.
Do you see that if the federal government is given constitutional authority (via a BBA) to spend money on whatever they want, they are ipso facto granted constitutional authority to exert power over whatever they want?
Oh, Americans! False friends lead you astray and confuse the path you should take. Under the pretext of imposing “fiscal responsibility” with a BBA, they would legalize the totalitarian dictatorship which has been developing in this Country for 100 years.
Creating the all-powerful federal government by Amendment
A BBA changes the standard for spending from whether the object is an enumerated power to whatever the federal government wants to spend money on. 4
So a BBA would transform the federal government created by our Constitution from one of enumerated powers only, to one of general and unlimited powers because it would authorize Congress to appropriate funds for – and hence have power over – whatever they or the President decide to put in the budget!
A BBA Doesn’t Reduce Federal Spending
A BBA wouldn’t reduce federal spending because:
· all versions permit spending limits to be waived when Congress votes to waive them; and
· Congress can always “balance the budget” with tax increases. Compact for America’s “balanced budget amendment” delegates massive new taxing authority to Congress: it authorizes Congress to impose a national sales tax and a national value added tax (VAT) in addition to keeping the income tax.
Americans think, “I have to balance my budget; so the federal government should have to balance theirs.”
They overlook the profound distinctions between the economies of their own family unit and that of the national government of a Federation of States. Our federal Constitution sets up a system where Congress is to appropriate funds only to carry out the enumerated powers; and the bills are to be paid with receipts from excise taxes and import tariffs, with any shortfall being made up by a direct assessment on the States apportioned according to population (Art. I, §2, clause 3).
Americans also think that since States have balanced budget amendments, the federal government should have one. They overlook the profound distinction between the federal Constitution and State Constitutions: 5
· 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 enumerated powers, and then it is to pay the bills with receipts from taxes.
· But State Constitutions created State governments of general and almost unlimited powers. Accordingly, State governments may lawfully spend money on just about anything. So State governments need budgets to limit their spending to receipts.
A BBA would have the opposite effect of what you have been told. Instead of limiting the federal government, it legalizes spending which is now unconstitutional as outside the scope of the enumerated powers; transforms the federal government into one which has power over whatever they decide to spend money on; and does nothing to reduce federal spending.
Twenty-eight States have already passed applications for a BBA. Go HERE to check the status of your State. Warn your friends and State Legislators. For a model your State can use to rescind its previous applications, go HERE and look under “Take Action” column, or contact me. Do not let the malignant elite complete their revolution by replacing our Constitution.
1 State governments are voracious consumers of federal funds. THIS shows what percentage of your State’s revenue is from federal funds. Contrary to what RINO State Legislators say, they don’t want federal spending reduced: They want to keep those federal dollars flooding in.
2 George Washington’s Cabinet had 4 members: Secretary of War, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of State, and Attorney General.
3 Our federal Constitution is short and easy to understand. The only way you can avoid being misled is to find out for yourself what it says. Be a Berean (Acts 17:10-12).
4 Amendments change all language to the contrary in the existing Constitution. Eg., the 13th Amendment changed Art. I, §2, clause 3 & Art. IV, §2, clause 3 because they were inconsistent with the 13th Amendment.
5 In Federalist No. 45 (3rd para from end), James Madison said:
“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, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
The “Convention of States” Scam, the War over the Constitution, and how the States Sold the Reserved Powers to the Feds.
By Publius Huldah
Our Constitution is a glorious document. This one page chart depicts the Structure of the federal government we created when we ratified our Constitution; and lists the “limited & enumerated powers” we delegated to the federal government over the Country at Large.
In a nutshell, our Constitution authorizes the federal government to handle the following objects for the Country at Large:
- Military defense, international commerce & relations;
- Control immigration & naturalization of new citizens;
- Domestically, to create a uniform commercial system: weights & measures, patents & copyrights, money based on gold & silver, bankruptcy laws, mail delivery & some road building; and
- With some of the amendments, secure certain civil rights.
Basically, that’s it. As stated in the 10th Amendment, all others powers are reserved by the States or The People.
But for 100 years, almost everyone in our Country has ignored our Constitution. Thus, instead of restricting spending to the enumerated objects of its powers, the people WE send to Congress spend money on what anybody wants – and so gave us a debt of $17 trillion. Instead of restricting lawmaking to the enumerated objects of its powers, the people WE send to Congress make laws on whatever they like. The President WE elected tramples all over the Constitution; and due to the connivance, cowardice, and ignorance of Congress, the supreme Court, State governments, and the American People, is seizing totalitarian power.
WE are in terrible trouble.
And it is the phony right wing which is seducing the American People into taking the final jump off the cliff.
“We all know that our government is way off track. The debt is astronomical and is going to cripple not only our own freedom and our own economy, but our children and our grandchildren are going to be effectively slaves, paying for all the things that we’re spending money on today.”
That part of his video is true.
But the purpose of their spiels is to make you believe they are on your side. You must look behind the spiels and think carefully about what they are proposing as “solutions”. Much is at stake:
THIS IS THE WAR over our Constitution and Country. And here are the two sides:
Learn & Enforce our Existing Constitution!
One side proposes that we learn & enforce our existing Constitution of limited & enumerated powers. We show that our Framers advised us to enforce our Constitution by (1) electing better representatives to annul the acts of the usurpers, 2 or by (2) nullification of unconstitutional acts.
To illustrate: What would our Country’s financial condition be if WE THE PEOPLE had enforced the enumerated powers on Congress?
It is the enumerated powers which list the objects on which Congress may appropriate funds:
- immigration office (Art. I, §8, cl.4)
- mint (Art. I, §8, cl. 5)
- Attorney General (Art. I, §8, cl. 6)
- post offices & post roads (Art. I, §8, cl. 7)
- patent & copyright office (Art. I, §8, cl. 8)
- federal courts (Art. I, §8, cl. 9)
- military (Art. I, §8, cls. 11-16)
- the civil list (Art. I, §6, cl.1)
- [and other objects listed in various other articles, sections, &clauses]
Do you get the idea? The Constitution itemizes what Congress is permitted to spend money on. See also the two geographical areas over which Congress was delegated “general legislative powers”: Art. I, §8, next to last clause, & Art. IV, §3, cl. 2.
The reason we have a debt of $17 trillion is because everyone ignored the Constitution; so Congress spent money on objects outside the scope of its enumerated powers.
Amend Away our Existing Constitution?
But the Randy Barnett 3/ Rob Natelson/ Michael Farris/ Mark Levin camp want a “convention” so they can gut our existing Constitution by amending out the limited & enumerated powers with new amendments which grant general powers to the federal government; or they seek to re-write the Constitution altogether.
Here are illustrations of how the limited & enumerated powers can be amended out of our Constitution:
It has already been shown how the so-called balanced budget amendment would transform our Constitution from one of enumerated spending powers to one of general spending powers, where spending would be limited only by the amount of revenue the federal government generates or a certain percentage of the GDP. 4 But under our existing Constitution, the federal government’s expenditures are limited by the constitutional grants of authority – the enumerated powers. The problem is everyone ignores the enumerated powers – they never even bothered to learn what they are!
Here is another illustration: Michael Farris, the grand master of The Spiel, has managed to convince many parents that the only way to protect their parental rights is an amendment to the Constitution which delegates to the federal and State governments constitutional power over their children!
And Mark Levin’s suggested amendments would gut our Constitution. Most increase the powers of the federal government by making constitutional what is now unconstitutional because it is not an enumerated power. The amendments pertaining to “overrides” undermine the Constitution as the objective standard of what is lawful and what is not – and substitute majority vote therefor. These “overrides” would erase the Constitution and replace it with majority (mob) rule.
Or is “re-writing the Constitution” their actual goal?
Farris says in the video:
“…sometimes what you need is not a change of personnel, you need a change of structure. The Founders understood the importance of structure…”
Does that give you cold chills?
How does Farris seek to change the structure?
Please – all of you – look at this one page chart which depicts The Structure of the federal government our Framers gave us: What needs changing? Isn’t enforcement what we need?
Jordan Sillars, Communications Director for Farris’ Convention of States Project, let the cat out of the bag:
On September 15, 2013, a discussion on my Face Book page was started about Mark Levin’s clamoring for a “convention of states”.
On or before September 19, Jordon Sillars posted a comment wherein he said:
“… 3. I think the majority of Americans are too lazy to elect honest politicians. But I think some men and women could be found who are morally and intellectually capable of re-writing the Constitution…” [boldface mine].
On September 19 at 1:20 p.m., I responded:
“So, this really is about “re-writing the Constitution”, isn’t it?
And could you name these individuals who are “morally and intellectually capable of re-writing the Constitution”?”
Sillars thereafter deleted his comments, but not before I obtained a screen shot of his quoted comment which you can see here.
Why did he delete his comments?
Now let’s look more at what Farris says in his video:
The False Statements & Silly Arguments of the Proponents of a “convention of States”
1. After his introduction about the $17 trillion debt, Farris goes on to say:
“The States have the power under Article V to call a convention of the States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution…”
His statement is false.
The Truth is the States have no authority to call the convention. That power is delegated to Congress. Article V says:
“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments…” [emphasis mine]
Congress calls it. Not the States.
Furthermore, Dr. Edwin Vieira has pointed out:
‘The language “shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments” sets out a constitution duty in Congress. It embraces a constitutional power as well. That brings into play Article I, Section 8, Clause 18, which delegates to Congress the power “[t]o make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers [that is, in Article I, Section 8, Clauses 1 through 17], and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof”. The power to “call a Convention for proposing Amendments” is one of those “all other Powers”. Therefore, pursuant to that power, Congress may enact whatever “Law[ ] which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the * * * Power [to call a Convention]’.
So! Since Article V vests in Congress the power to call the convention; and since Article I, §8, last clause, vests in Congress the power to make all laws necessary & proper to execute its delegated powers; 5 Congress would be within its constitutional authority to organize the Convention anyway it wants, and to appoint whomsoever it wishes as delegates. 6
Now look at this: The chart on Article V shows that James Madison, Father of our Constitution, remarked on the vagueness of the term, “call a Convention for the purpose”:
“How was a Convention to be formed? – by what rule decide? – what the force of its acts?” (Sep. 10); and “difficulties might arise as to the form, the quorum, &c., which in constitutional regulations ought to be as much as possible avoided” (Sep. 15, 1787).
Phyllis Schlafly also raised Twenty Questions about a Constitutional Convention.
Congress, pursuant to Article V and Article I, §8, last clause, has the constitutional power to answer all these questions by means of a law.
Folks! The Farris/Natelson/ Levin camp is not telling you the truth when they say the States decide these issues!
2. Farris then says in his video:
“…in Article V of the Constitution [the Founding Fathers] gave us the solution…”
“…they gave the power to the States to create a new set of rules when the federal government overstepped its boundaries. We can recalibrate the rules to take power away from Washington D.C. and give it back to the people and to the States.”
His statements are both false and silly.
Here is the false part of what he said:
It was not the consensus at the Federal Convention of 1787 that the purpose of Article V was so States could make amendments to the Constitution in order to take power away from a federal government which had usurped power by violating the Constitution.
This chart shows what happened at the Federal Convention of 1787 re development of Article V.
Two delegates (Randolph & Mason, who didn’t sign the Constitution) supported the notion that amendments might be used if the national government should become oppressive. And they didn’t want Congress to have any power over amendment procedures. Their view was the minority view.
Other delegates (Gov. Morris, Hamilton & Madison) thought Congress ought to be able to propose amendments. One delegate (Mr. Gerry) worried about States obtaining a convention and binding the Union to innovations which subverted State Constitutions. Hamilton spoke of amendments to correct defects which would probably appear in the Constitution.
So the final version of Article V provides two methods of proposing amendments to the Constitution. Congress either:
- Proposes the amendments; or
- “Calls” a convention when the Legislatures of 2/3 of the States apply for it. [Now see Art. I, §8, last clause.]
Now for the silly parts of what Farris said (and there are two silly parts):
3. Farris tells us the solution to a federal government which “overstep[s] its boundaries” [violates the Constitution] is to amend the Constitution.
He proposes “to take power away from Washington D.C.” [power the federal government has usurped] by “recalibrate[ing] the rules”.
In other words, the solution to a federal government which violates the Constitution is to amend the Constitution.
Do you see how silly this is?
4. Farris and his camp also imply that the States are victims of federal tyranny, and are the virtuous & wise ones who can fix our Country if they can just get a convention to propose amendments.
But the States are the ones who sold you out to the federal government in the first place! I’ll show you:
The 10th Amendment says:
“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”.
What happened to these reserved powers?
The States sold them to the federal government.
Let’s use education as an illustration of how the States sold to the federal government your reserved power to educate your own children in the way you see fit.
The Creator God who, as recognized by our Declaration of Independence, endowed us with unalienable rights; assigned to parents the responsibility to provide for the education & moral instruction of their children: Proverbs 1:8-9, 6:20-21, 13:1, 22:6 & 23:19-22; Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 4:9-10 & 6:1-7; Ephesians 6:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:5 & 3:15-17.
Is “education” one of the enumerated powers delegated to the federal government for the Country at large? No. So the federal government has no constitutional authority to get involved. Accordingly, all acts of Congress pertaining to education for the Country at Large, the federal Department of Education, and all their rules & programs are unconstitutional as outside the scope of powers delegated to the federal government.
So why does the federal government dictate all things respecting education?
Because your States sold your God-given responsibility to educate your own children – and your reserved power to do so – to the federal government. This has been going on for a long time; but most recently your State sold you out for federal grants with the federal government’s “race to the top” and “common core” schemes. 7
You have to be ignorant, unthinking, & gullible – a greenhorn – to believe that The States are the men in the white hats who can fix all this with a convention to propose amendments.
The federal government is not the problem – it is the result of our own ignorance, pride and folly.
WE THE PEOPLE, who are “the natural guardians of the Constitution” (Federalist No. 16, next to last para) didn’t trouble ourselves to learn the enumerated powers of Congress and the President. Do you know them?
I ask my Readers who have been supporting the “convention of States” scheme: Have you studied our Founding Principles set forth in The Declaration of Independence? Have you studied the text of the Constitution so that you know what it says?
If not, how are you qualified to know how to “fix” a Constitution you never learned?
Are you willing to stake your lives & liberties, and those of your progeny, on whether those in the Barnett/Natelson/Farris/ Levin camp (1) know what they are talking about, and (2) are telling the truth?
Why? Because you like them? Because they provide a scapegoat which permits you to blame-shift? And you think you can “get even”?
Wise voices in this Country are warning you about the scam. Foremost among them is Phyllis Schlafly, who has been warning of this danger for decades. Yet, such is the ignorant conceit of the greenhorns that they sneer at those who are warning them.
I trust you now see the connection between the moral corruption of a People and tyranny.
1 Use your own head! Do not be manipulated by other peoples’ choice of words. Rob Natelson formerly referred to what he wants as a “constitutional convention”. Now, he calls it a “Convention of the States” – that is the term his cohorts & minions now use. Why did they change what they called it?
2 But our elections are no longer honest. The States took federal grant money to buy voting machines which can be rigged.
3 Randy Barnett’s “Bill of Federalism” is ten proposed amendments which would transform our Constitution from one of enumerated powers to one of general & unlimited powers. Mark Levin’s proposed amendments are similar to Barnett’s.
4 The GDP is computed by an agency in the Executive Branch. So under the BBA, spending would be limited by numbers under the control of the federal government: By how much they tax you; or by a number (GDP) the Executive Branch computes. You think that is a fine idea?
5 The Federalist Papers tell us what the “necessary & proper” clause (Art. I, §8, last clause) means: The clause delegates to Congress power to pass all laws necessary & proper to execute its declared powers (Federalist No. 29, 4th para); a power to do something must be a power to pass all laws necessary & proper for the execution of that power (Federalist No. 33, 4th para); “the constitutional operation of the intended government would be precisely the same if [this clause] were entirely obliterated as if [it] were repeated in every article” (Federalist No. 33, 2nd para); and thus the clause is “perfectly harmless”, a tautology or redundancy. (Federalist No. 33, 4th para). See also Federalist No. 44, 10th -17th paras. In other words, the clause permits the execution of powers already declared and granted.
Do not be misled by Rob Natelson’s post on the “necessary & proper” clause! Why did Natelson ignore what The Federalist Papers say about this clause? Why did he fabricate the song & dance set forth in his post?
6 Think this through also: Even if Congress, as a matter of grace, permitted the States to appoint delegates, how would delegates from your State be chosen? Who controls your State? Would the powers in your State choose you? Or do you believe Michael Farris would choose the leaders?
7 This happened in your State because The People in your State elected to State government people who sold you out. See this website on federal grants: http://www.ffis.org/database You think your State Legislators, who have been gobbling up all the federal grant money they can get, will fix our Country at a “convention” to propose amendments? PH.
By Publius Huldah.
You can not responsibly support a proposed Amendment to Our Constitution unless you have read and understand the proposal and how it would change our Constitution. You must look behind the nice sounding name! Will the Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) really “rein in” the federal government? Will it really “show them” that they have to balance their budget the same as we do?
Or does it actually legalize spending which is now unconstitutional? Is it actually a massive grant of new constitutional powers to the President and the federal courts – a grant which will cut the Heart out of The Constitution our Framers gave us?
Amending the Constitution is serious business – and you are morally bound to get informed before you jump on The Amendment Bandwagon.
So, lay aside your giddy joy at the fact that all 47 U.S. Senate Republicans are co-sponsoring the Balanced Budget Amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 10 (March 31, 2011). Let’s go through it. What you believe the BBA will do, and what it will actually do, are two very different things indeed.
But First: How Did We Get a National Debt of $14.4 Trillion?
Congress gave us a debt of $14.4 trillion which increases at the rate of $4 billion a day. Let us look at a few of the items which comprise this $14.4 trillion debt:
Congress spent $2.6 million to teach Chinese prostitutes how to drink responsibly. Congress appropriates $147 million a year to subsidize Brazilian cotton farmers. Congress spent $3.6 million to fund a study of the sex lives of dope-smoking, menstruating monkeys. Congress paid $500,000 to paint a salmon on an Alaska Airlines passenger jet. Congress appropriates $6.9 billion a year for the National Science Foundation where they fund such research as that which revealed the amazing fact that sick shrimp do not perform as well on stamina tests as do healthy shrimp.1 Citizens Against Government Waste’s pig book shows Congress spent $16,547,558,748. on pork projects last year. In Sen. Tom Coburn’s Waste Book 2010, which lists 100 spending projects, he shows that $1.5 million was spent to spruce up apartments in Shreveport, La. before they were torn down.
All this spending – every penny of it – and trillions more which is not here listed – has one thing in common: It is all unconstitutional as outside the scope of the powers delegated to Congress in the Constitution. Congress has no constitutional authority to spend money on these projects.
So! It was Congress’ unconstitutional spending which put us in the mess we are in today.
What Does Our Constitution Permit Congress To Spend Money On?
WE THE PEOPLE ordained and established a Constitution wherein the powers WE delegated to the federal government are limited and defined – “enumerated”. Read the list at Art. I, Sec. 8! Basically, all WE gave Congress authority to do for the Country at large is international relations, commerce & war; and domestically, the creation of an uniform commercial system (weights & measures, patents & copyrights, a money system based on gold & silver, bankruptcy laws, mail delivery & road building.) Some Amendments authorize Congress to make laws protecting civil rights. That’s about it, Folks! The list of objects on which Congress may lawfully appropriate funds is short. The only significant authorized expense is the military. James Madison, Father of the U.S. Constitution, said in Federalist No. 45 (9th para):
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, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. [boldface added]
Note that Madison contemplated that the federal government would be financed in large part by taxation on foreign commerce. That is because the constitutional powers of the federal government are so limited & defined! The States and the People are to handle everything else.
Do you now see that Our Constitution does not authorize Congress to pay for a museum for neon signs ($5.2 million), to archive memorabilia for a rock group ($615,000), or to post poems in zoos ($997,766.)? [See Sen. Coburn’s Waste Book 2010]. Congress has no lawful authority to do most of what they do. They just do it because they want to, they have been doing it for a long time, and WE haven’t known enough to stop them. Our $14.4 trillion debt was caused by Congress’ spending in thousands of areas where they have no constitutional authority to spend.
My dear Friend Mark said it best here:
…the federal government’s expenditures are limited by the Constitutional grants of authority, NOT THE AMOUNT OF REVENUE THEY CAN GENERATE. [caps are Mark’s].
Is the BBA Really the Solution?
So! These 47 Senate Republicans (and some in the House) are showing you how much they now “care” about fiscal responsibility by supporting the BBA. But think: Why don’t they control their spending now? The Republicans control the House – NO spending can get through the House unless the Republicans approve it. So if the Republicans really wanted to control spending and balance the budget, they could do it now. Why don’t they do it? Because they don’t want to.
Furthermore, the BBA they support with such broad smiles and glib promises of future fiscal responsibility, doesn’t make them control their spending. Instead, it would legalize spending which is now unlawful and would markedly increase the powers of the federal government. And it would do nothing to reduce spending. In short, the BBA is a Scam and a Terrible Trick.
What Would We Get From the BBA ?
In plain English, this is what the 10 Sections of the BBA mean [but read it yourself – it’s very short]:
Section 1: They won’t spend more than they take in unless they vote to spend more than they take in.
Section 2: They won’t spend more than 18% of the GDP unless they vote to spend more than 18% of the GDP.
Section 3: The President will write the budget: He will designate the taxes, and what the money will be spent on. He won’t spend more than he decides to tax you for, and he won’t spend more than 18% of the GDP. The GDP is a computation made by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in the Department of Commerce, an agency under the control of the President. [Do you see? The President controls the agency which computes the number which limits his spending.]
Section 4: Congress won’t make a law raising your taxes unless they vote to raise your taxes.
Section 5: Congress won’t raise the debt limit unless they vote to raise the debt limit.
Sections 6 & 7: Congress can waive the above provisions of the BBA (except for Sec. 4 which says they can’t raise your taxes unless they vote to raise your taxes) when there is a declared war or a “military conflict” which they think justifies their waiving the above provisions of the BBA.
Section 8: Courts can’t order your taxes to be raised. [But you can bet your life that this section, together with section 3, will be seen to authorize the President to order that your taxes be raised.]
Section 9: I leave this to others to explain. But be assured the President’s minions will define stuff however he wants; make stuff “off-budget” or “on-budget” to fit his agenda.
Section 10: Congress can make laws to enforce the BBA, and can rely on numbers provided by the President who is to be given constitutional authority to order tax increases & decide how to spend the money.
So! Do you see? You get no benefit from the BBA. But it will cause us irreparable harm.
How Would the BBA Cut the Heart Out of Our Constitution?
1. It would Transform Our Constitution From One of Enumerated Spending Powers To One of General (“Unlimited”) Spending Powers.
Congress’ Powers are enumerated. Thus, the objects on which Congress may lawfully appropriate funds are limited to those listed in the Constitution. Congress has ignored the limitations on its powers for many decades – but at least the limitations are still in the Constitution, to be invoked if We The People ever repent. 2
But the BBA, by ignoring the unconstitutional objects of Congress’ spending, and by merely limiting the amount of such spending to 18% of the GDP & the taxes the President assesses, repeals the enumerated powers aspect of our Constitution. Furthermore, if Congress limited its appropriations to its enumerated powers, they could not possibly spend a sum as vast as 18% of the GDP. Thus, the BBA is clear intention to repeal the enumerated powers, and transform the federal government into one of general and unlimited powers.
Congress’ idiotic spending is now unlawful & unconstitutional. But with the BBA, it would become lawful & constitutional, as long as the total spending doesn’t exceed the limits (unless they waive the limits). With the BBA, it will become lawful for them to appropriate funds for whatever the President (who will write the budget) says! 3
2. The BBA Transfers Control of the “Purse” from Congress to the President.
The federal government didn’t even have a budget until Congress passed the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. That “law” purported to grant budget making power (taxes & appropriations) to the President.
But the Budget Act of 1921 is unconstitutional: The Constitution places the taxing & appropriations powers squarely in the hands of Congress – not the Executive Branch; and contrary to the beliefs of indoctrinated lawyers, Congress may not “amend” the Constitution by making a law. 4
Article I, Sec. 8, cl. 1, grants to Congress the Power to lay and collect Taxes; and Art. I, Sec. 9, next to last clause, grants to Congress the Power to make the appropriations:
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
Accordingly, for most of our history, Congress made appropriations as the need arose; determined the taxes, and kept records of both. [See Bruce Bartlett’s excellent history of the budget process.]
Our Framers gave us an elegant system of separated powers, where Congress commands the purse – not the Executive Branch and not the Judicial Branch! In Federalist No. 78 (6th para), Alexander Hamilton outlines this separation of powers:
…The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules … The judiciary … has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society… 5
In Federalist No. 58 (4th para from end) Madison explains why the House alone is granted power to propose taxes (Art. I, Sec. 7, cl. 1): To protect The People from overreaching by the other branches of the federal government:
…The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing … all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may … be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance…
Ponder Hamilton’s and Madison’s words. You must understand what they are saying if we are to restore our Constitutional Republic. Otherwise, the BBA will usher in a totalitarian dictatorship.
Pursuant to the unconstitutional Budget Act of 1921, the President has been preparing the budget. Since the Budget Act is unconstitutional, the President’s preparation of the budget has been likewise unconstitutional. Section 3 of the BBA would legalize what is now unconstitutional and unlawful.
But Section 3 of the BBA does more than merely legalize the unlawful. It actually transfers the constitutional power to make the appropriations and to determine taxes to the President. Congress will become a rubber stamp.
Now look at this pretty little snare: Section 8 of the proposed BBA says:
No court of the United States or of any State shall order any increase in revenue to enforce this article. [emphasis added]
Our Constitutiondoes not grant to courts the power to “order” tax increases. So why does Sec. 8 of the BBA say they can’t do it?
It’s a trap! There is an ancient maxim of legal construction which goes like this: “The Expression of One Thing is the Exclusion of Another”:
An implied exclusion argument lies whenever there is reason to believe that if the legislature had meant to include a particular thing within the ambit of its legislation, it would have referred to that thing expressly. Because of this expectation, the legislature’s failure to mention the thing becomes grounds for inferring that it was deliberately excluded. Although there is no express exclusion, exclusion is implied. …[emphasis added]
Why does Sec. 8 of the BBA exclude the President? From this exclusion, one may reasonably infer that the intent of Sec. 8 is to permit the President to order tax increases. If the BBA is ratified, you can be sure that Presidents will claim power under Sec. 8 of the BBA to order tax increases. That inference is strengthened by the fact that Sec. 3 of the BBA transfers constitutional power over the Budget to the President.
So! The BBA surrenders the purse to the President! Our Framers understood the danger of having the sword & the purse held by one person. That is why our Constitution provides for Congress to make the decisions on taxes & appropriations; and, as pointed out in Federalist No. 72 (1st para), the President is to apply and disburse “the public moneys in conformity to the general appropriations of the legislature”.
With the BBA, Congress’ sole remaining constitutional function over taxing & spending will be to rubberstamp the dictates of the President.
3. The BBA grants judicial power over taxing & spending to the federal courts.
Article III, Sec. 2, cl. 1 states: “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases…arising under this Constitution.”
If the BBA is ratified, it will become an Amendment to the Constitution which is subject to the judicial authority of the federal courts.
You say the BBA won’t transfer power over the purse to the President? You say Congress won’t become a mere rubberstamp whose sole remaining function over taxing & appropriations is to enact into law the dictates of the President?
Who will decide? Since this would be an issue “arising under the Constitution”, the supreme Court will decide. The Judicial Branch – a branch which Hamilton took care to point out should have no power whatsoever over The Purse.
And so five (5) people on the supreme Court will decide an issue which goes to the heart of our Constitution – an issue which the People clamoring for the BBA don’t even know exists. And remember: Our supreme Court is filled with fallen people who looked at Sec. 1 of the 14th Amendment and said it means that women may kill their babies. They looked at the 1st Amendment and said it means that Congress may regulate political speech, and courts may ban Christian speech in the public square, but it gives Westboro “baptists” a “right” to spew their filth & hate at private funerals of dead American heroes.
If the BBA is ratified, do you really want five (5) of those judges deciding this issue? 6
What is the Solution to The Financial Plight Congress has put us in?
We have 47 Republican U.S. Senators who don’t understand [or do they?] the ramifications of the BBA which some of them (most notably Senators Jim De Mint & Mike Lee) are determined to cram down our throats. Many supposedly conservative talk show hosts & pundits (most notably, Redstate.com), are carrying their water. Whether these people are fools or tyrants, I do not know; but you must learn that you can not trust anybody. You must insist that people prove what they say!
WE THE PEOPLE must reclaim our glorious Heritage. We must find & support candidates who understand the Constitution, obey it, and agree to work to dismantle the unconstitutional federal apparatus. We can eliminate the trillions of dollars of unconstitutional spending by restoring constitutional government. In an orderly fashion, we can dismantle the multitude of offices and agencies and departments of the last 100 years which harass us and eat out our sustenance.
Oh my People! The grinning politicians and pundits who promise you “fiscal responsibility” with their BBA will actually strip you of the protections of Our Constitution. Their BBA will legalize a totalitarian dictatorship. Do not be deceived by them – they are leading you astray, and their BBA will destroy us.
Oh you Proponents of this thoroughly Evil Scheme: I throw my glove in your face: Show me, if you can, where I am wrong. Or rethink your position. PH
1 Our Constitution does not authorize Congress to fund scientific research. Congress’ only power in the areas of the arts and sciences is to issue patents and copyrights (Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 8). If Congress obeyed Our Constitution and stopped funding “scientific” research, the proponents of these idiotic studies would have to do something useful instead of sucking at the taxpayers’ teat.
2 We must repent of our desire to live at other peoples’ expense. This is the contradiction which undermines the Tea Party. Many don’t want a constitutional government of limited & enumerated powers. They just want to eliminate funding for programs they don’t like. They want their social security, their Medicare, their government retirement pensions, their perks. I beg each of you who is now living at other peoples’ expense: Are you willing to sacrifice your grandchildren so that you can keep your handouts? Or will you accept an orderly & gradual dismantlement of the unconstitutional “entitlement” programs?
3 Are you aware that federal executive agencies are forming their own SWAT teams? Are you aware that DHS is federalizing our local police and using their fusion centers to turn them into a national secret police – America’s version of the STAZI? Building Obama’s “civilian national security force” which is “just as powerful just as strong just as well funded as the military” takes money. Lots of it! The BBA will permit the President to write into the Budget the funding needed to build this armed force; and it will be under his sole & personal control.
4 Article V sets forth the exclusive methods of amending The Constitution.
5 In Federalist No. 26, Hamilton addresses how Congress is to determine (after public deliberations) the appropriations for the military; and warns that the President must never be given power over the purse respecting armed forces:
The legislature of the United States will be OBLIGED, by this provision [Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 12], once at least in every two years, to deliberate upon the propriety of keeping a military force on foot; to come to a new resolution on the point; and to declare their sense of the matter, by a formal vote in the face of their constituents. They are not AT LIBERTY to vest in the executive department permanent funds for the support of an army, if they were even incautious enough to be willing to repose in it so improper a confidence…. (9th para) [capitals are Hamilton’s; boldface mine]
It has been said that the provision which limits the appropriation of money for the support of an army to the period of two years would be unavailing, because the Executive, when once possessed of a force large enough to awe the people into submission, would find resources in that very force sufficient to enable him to dispense with supplies from the acts of the legislature…. (12th para)
Do you see that Hamilton warned us not to trust the President with power to determine the funding for the armed forces? Learn from Hamilton & Madison. Or perish.
6 If the President disagrees with the supreme Court’s decision, he – who would, thanks to the BBA, hold both the sword & the purse – could ignore it with impunity. PH
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 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.
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 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.)