Fixing the Federal Mess Part 3 of 4: Constitutional Amendments to Restore and Safeguard our Constitutional Republic
When it comes to saving our constitutional republic, it isn't good enough to play games with our budget nor even to take the hard steps needed to rid our federal system of all unconstitutional departments, agencies, programs and regulations. We must take the extra precaution of amending our Constitution to assure that the mess with which we are confronted today can never be repeated by future irresponsible politicians. A number of constitutional amendments are described below that would go a long way toward assuring the survival of our constitutional republic.
I. Congressional Reform - these are designed to restore checks and balances in Congress, eliminate re-election politics and life-time politicians, reduce election costs, and end undue influence of lobbyists and other special interest groups.
II. Constitutionality: - these are designed to assure that all legislation and subsequent regulations and executive orders are constitutionally authorized by the clear meaning of Article 1, Section 8, Powers of Congress. Limits executive orders to administrative processes pursuant to a timely execution of constitutionally-authorized federal law. Amends Article 1, Section 8 to clarify the "General Welfare" and "Commerce" clauses nullifying all prior contrary Supreme Court decisions.
III. Budget & Tax Rates/Taxes: - these are designed to eliminate budgets that exceed revenues, limits tax increases, restrain debt ceiling increases, and replace the nearly 100-year old income tax with a more equitable tax with a vastly lower overhead cost.
IV. Defense of Liberty: - these are designed to guarantee the right of an individual to hold a job without paying tribute in the form of dues or fees to any organization or governmental entity in lieu of dues or fees and to prohibit the use of federal tax revenues to support private, often controversial, organizations.
For each type, a list of proposed amendments follows together with ad brief description of advantages/purpose. The wording of the amendments is left for a future commentary.
I. Congressional Reform:
Repeal the 17th Amendment.
The 17th Amendment which called for popular election of Senators destroyed checks and balances built into Congress between the House (designed to represent the interests of the People) and the Senate (designed to represent the interests of the States). By having State legislatures appoint Senators, our Constitution brilliantly created a check and balance to assure State governments had representation in the Federal Congress to check unconstitutional extension of federal power. The original selection of Senators acted not only as a check and balance with the People's House of Representatives, but also served as a powerful restraint on over-zealous and unconstitutional Federal legislating. A key cornerstone of the early progressive movement was to eliminate this restraint by removing participation of State governments in Federal matters. The 17th Amendment has had disastrous consequences with rampant unconstitutional legislating being the norm for much of the 20th century following its ratification in 1913. Repeal would restore checks and balances within Congress and give States their proper representation in Washington. It is imperative the Senators who pledge to support repeal of the 17th Amendment be elected to office in 2012.
Single terms for Representatives and Senators
This amendment would eliminate re-election to office in each branch of Congress. Members of the House and Senate would be prohibited from seeking another term in the legislative body to which they were elected. This amendment would not prevent any person holding office when this Article becomes operative from serving the remainder of the term to which they were elected or appointed, nor would it prohibit one holding elective office in one body of Congress from seeking office in the other body. Members of the House serving their first term of office at the time of ratification would be permitted to seek one more term. The advantage of a single term is the elimination of re-election politics, reduction of the power of lobbies, increased participation by citizens, and lower costs for election to Congress.
House term changes from two to four years
The term of office for members of the House of Representatives would be changed from two to four years. One-half of each State's Representatives would be chosen every second year, staggering representation similar to how the Senate terms are staggered. State legislatures would determine which Congressional districts would fall into each election cycle. This change is in response to the single term limitation for elective office in Congress and offers House members a full four years of service in the House.
Amendment of Article 1, Section 8, Powers of Congress
Amend Article 1, Section 8 as follows:
First line: "The Congress shall have the power" shall be amended to read: "The powers of Congress shall be limited"
Amend Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 1, to read: "To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States within the limited scope of power enumerated below; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
Amend Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 3, to read: "To regulate for the sole purpose of assuring free and orderly commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;
Constitutionality of Bills Passed by Congress
Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution would be amended to require:
Identification of the specific enumerated power of Article I, Section 8, under which the legislation is Constitutionally authorized.
Review by the Supreme Court for validation of the cited authority using original intent and principles. If the cited authority is appropriate for all provisions of the bill, it is passed on to the President for consideration. If the cite authority is found inappropriate for the proposed bill, the bill is returned to the Congress describing provisions of the bill that are not authorized by our Constitution.
Abolishment of all Presidential Executive Orders
All Presidential Executive Orders are abolished as having no authorization under any provision of Article II (President) of our Constitution; and all existing programs, agencies, and regulations arising from any Presidential Executive Order are abolished upon ratification of this Amendment. After ratification of this amendment, any attempt by a President to issue an Executive Order shall be sufficient to warrant impeachment and removal from office.
Abolishment of all Federal Departments, Agencies and Laws (and their offspring) not specifically authorized by our Constitution
The provisions of this Amendment would not apply to any Department, Agency, or Program whose existence is specifically required by the Constitution of the United States (e.g., Defense, State).
Within a period of four years from the date of ratification of this Amendment, every existing Department, Agency and Law must be reviewed by a joint committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate for the purpose of citing the constitutional authority under Article 1, Section 8 (Powers of Congress) for the existence of each such Department, Agency or Law. Every cited constitutional authority shall immediately be presented to the Supreme Court for validation. In making its findings, the Supreme Court must rely solely upon a strict interpretation of the original intent for very limited powers granted to federal government under Article 1, Section 8. Failure to review any existing Department, Agency or Law within four years from the date of ratification of this Amendment shall render all those unreviewed Departments, Agencies and Laws null and void as if they had been specifically determined to be beyond the constitutional authority of Congress. Note that any antiquated laws, whether constitutional or not, could be allowed to lapse merely by ignoring them within the required four year review period.
Every Department, Agency or Law found lacking sufficient constitutional authority shall be declared null and void and, in the case of Departments and Agencies shall be disbanded within a period of one year from such determination. Every effort shall be made to devolve programs and staff of Departments or Agencies to States willing to accept such within two years of such determination. All abolished programs affecting payments or benefits to citizens (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare) shall undergo an orderly termination process as determined by the Congress with the objective of having the least adverse impact on current and near current recipients of such payments and benefits. In every such event, efforts should be made to devolve such programs to states willing to take on such programs.
III. Budget & Tax Rates/Taxes:
Balanced Budget & Debt Ceiling(this section is derived from a current GOP balanced budget amendment proposal)
Prior to each fiscal year, the President must transmit to Congress a balanced budget that limits outlays to 18 percent of GDP. Congress must pass a balanced budget except:
When 2/3 of both Houses approve a specific deficit for a fiscal year, or,
When a majority of Congress approves a specific deficit for a fiscal year during a declared war, or,
When 3/5 of Congress approves a specific deficit for a fiscal year during a military conflict declared to be an imminent and serious military threat to national security and the deficit is limited to outlays made necessary by the identified conflict.
With the following limited exceptions, Congress must limit outlays to 18 percent of GDP, except:
When 2/3 of both Houses approve a specific excess above 18 percent of GDP for a fiscal year, or,
When a majority of Congress approves a specific excess above 18 percent of GDP for a fiscal year during a declared war, or,
When 3/5 of Congress approves a specific excess above 18 percent of GDP for a fiscal year during a military conflict declared to be an imminent and serious military threat to national security and the excess is limited to outlays made necessary by the identified conflict.
No net tax and/or rate increases except:
When 2/3 of both Houses approve any bill that imposes a new tax or increases the statutory rate of any tax or the aggregate amount of revenue.
This provision does not imply to increases in revenue resulting from tax cuts.
No increase in the debt limit except:
When 3/5 of both Houses approve an increase in the debt limit, or,
When a majority of Congress approves an increase during a declared war.
Amendment to implement the Fair Tax proposal (repeals 16th Amendment establishing the income tax)
The Fair Tax is a national sales-tax based proposal that would "abolish all federal personal and corporate income taxes, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, and self-employment taxes and replace them with one simple, visible, federal retail sales tax administered primarily by existing state sales tax authorities". The costly, inefficient federal income tax system would be scrapped in favor of this simplified national sales tax. Additional information about the Fair Tax is contained in a Research Study performed by The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University.
IV. Defense of Liberty:
Guarantee the Right to Work without paying tribute
Amend our Constitution to guarantee that every person shall be free from a requirement to join a professional, trade, or union organization requiring the mandatory payment of dues or dues-equivalent in lieu of dues to any entity, whether governmental or private, as a condition of employment.
Ban forced contributions to private organizations
Amend our Constitution to prohibit federal tax revenues from being dispersed to any private organization. Currently, tax revenue is being given to controversial private organizations (e.g., Planned Parenthood), which forces citizens to support organizations having goals and activities with which they strongly object. This is a fundamental violation of the right of the People to determine which private organizations they support. This practice is clearly unconstitutional as there is no current authority in our Constitution that allows the federal government to make such contributions or grants.
The above amendment proposals, if enacted, would immediately strengthen our national economic position, bolster the value of our currency, and put our nation firmly back on track as a constitutional republic. At the same time, they would make it unlikely that any future attempts by the regressive "progressive" movement to usurp constitutional authority through unconstitutional governance could succeed.
Bob Webster, a descendant of Daniel Webster's father, Revolutionary War patriot Ebenezer Webster, has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for all high school students so they can appreciate the cost of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.
A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.