Averting the Real Fiscal Cliff 1
By Sen. Kevin Lundberg
The “cliff” was a self imposed set of spending cuts and tax increases. This “poison pill” deadline came about through an agreement that was crafted in the summer of 2011. Congress agreed to raise the debt ceiling if everyone promised to stop the trillion-plus deficit spending. The Senate and the President staked their position on higher taxes, with the President taking a no compromise posture that sounded a lot like “my way or the highway.”
The problem is: Washington spends too much. I have been a lawmaker long enough to know that more tax revenue will not cure the problem, it will continue to feed the addiction. Higher taxes will not reduce spending. Higher taxes will also be that much more of a drag on our still faltering economy.
The fiscal cliff we face is a real one, but it did not occur on January 1. We will be over the real cliff and in free fall when the world figures out that Washington is incapable of controlling its spending habit and confidence in the dollar collapses. Inflation will soar, paying the interest on the national debt will become a devouring monster, consumers will have very little money with which to buy anything, businesses will fail, jobs will be lost, personal wealth will evaporate, and the people will suffer in many ways for a very long time. To a limited extent some of this has already happened. But if we ever see the real cliff, January 1, 2013 will look like it could have been a good thing, as an opportunity we could have used to set us on the right course, to avoid the real catastrophe.
Given Obama’s determination to increase government spending, raise taxes even higher, and socialize every part of the economy he can get his hands on, it is hard to imagine how Washington can stop this runaway train.
As a state legislator I think it may be time for the states to insist Washington get their house in order, or we will take away the keys. The states created the Federal Government. The Constitution gives states the authority to step in and change the rules. If Washington cannot stop the spending, the united States have a moral and Constitutional responsibility to put clear and specific limits on Washington’s addiction to spending.
This may be the only option left to avert the real fiscal cliff.
Sen. Kevin Lundberg is a Republican member of the Colorado State Senate, representing the Colorado 15th Senate District, which encompasses rural Larimer County, the city of Loveland, and the towns of Wellington, Timnath, Berthoud, and Estes Park.
Is it Time for a Virtual Congress? 0
By Robert Berry
This article was originally published by American Thinker.
Legend has it that Washington, D.C. is built on swampland. While marshes are prevalent, the legend is false, but at the same time, it is figuratively true. Swamps are messy places — notorious breeding grounds for all sorts of pestilence. And though the Centers for Disease Control have probably never heard of it, the malady clientitis has reached epidemic stage within those 68 square miles along the Potomac.
And it’s enough to make us all sick.
First encountered in diplomatic circles, the disorder was originally known as going native: a condition where in-country diplomats would begin to regard the officials and people of the host country as clients. Over time, the diplomats would cease advocating U.S. interests and instead become champions of the host country, even to the point of taking vehement opposition to State Department policies.
Inside Washington’s beltway, members of Congress can be expected to come down with clientitis soon after their freshman oath-taking. The particular way federal lawmakers go native is rather stealthy — they don’t exactly start wearing beads and a grass skirt. Rather, one has to listen for changes in their speech. When your member puts on the Washington dialect of bureaucratic noncommittal gobbledygook — designed to placate both sides of every issue — you’ve lost him.
Their constituents long forgotten, members of Congress identify with their clients inside the Beltway. Having assimilated into the D.C. government-knows-best culture, the “representatives” think of Washington as home. But unlike diplomats, the pols are not that easy to recall. The political industrial complex knows how to take care of its own at election time.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Commerce Clause: Route to Omnipotent Government 0
This article was originally published by The Future of Freedom Foundation.
In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed a law forbidding possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of any school. The Gun-Free School Zones Act was touted as a blow on behalf of education and against violence among children. Two years later, Alfonso Lopez Jr., a 12th-grader at Edison High School in San Antonio, Texas, carried a concealed .38-caliber pistol to school. First he was charged under Texas law, which forbids possession of guns on school grounds. But the next day, federal agents charged Lopez under the Gun-Free School Zones Act, and the state charges were dismissed.
Thus began one of the most important cases — and one of the most important decisions — for the U.S. Supreme Court in the last 60 years. It would turn out to be significant because the case bore directly on a clause in the U.S. Constitution that almost from the beginning, and particularly since the New Deal, has been used to justify a radical expansion of the power of the central government in the United States: the clause that delegates to Congress the power to “regulate . . . commerce among the several states.” The sensible person will ask, “What does the commerce clause have to do with students bringing guns to school?” The Court’s majority said “nothing.” It has been a long time since the Supreme Court last refused to let the central government use the commerce clause to expand its power. That is why Lopez is such an important case.
Let’s back up a bit. Before adoption of the Constitution, states, under the Articles of Confederation, had erected protectionist barriers that interfered with the free flow of trade in the new country. One of the main reasons for the Constitutional Convention was to remedy that problem. The framers’ solution was the commerce clause, which was intended to make a free-trade zone out of the United States. (The clause also delegated to Congress the power to “regulate” trade with foreign nations and the Indian tribes. We will hold until later the question of whether this was a good way to solve the problem.)
Term Limits for Judges 0
This article was originally published by The Hoover Institution.
In Federalist No, 78, Alexander Hamilton famously argued that the federal courts were “the least dangerous” branch of government. What he did not understand was that they also proved, over time, to be the worst constructed. The problems here start at the top and work their way down to the bottom. As a recent New York Times column by Duke law professor Paul Carrington points out, the Constitution states that “the judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts shall hold their offices during good behavior,” which, except in cases of corruption or moral turpitude, effectively means for life.
Big mistake. As Carrington notes, longer life spans now translate into terms of thirty or more years. The independence of the judiciary can be easily preserved with either term limits, say, of eighteen years, or a mandatory retirement age of seventy. Nearly every modern legal system understands the virtue of limiting judicial terms. Carrington, however, goes astray when he links the absence of term limits to the possibility of the conservative justices overturning the Affordable Care Act: “Liberals are concerned that the right-wing tilt of five justices and lifelong appointments ensure a decades-long assault on the power of Congress,” he writes.
Though conservatives should get equally exercised about the opposite effect—that is, of a reelected Barack Obama getting to appoint the next two or three justices—the real risk of a lifetime appointment is not partisanship. It is disproportionate power, not only on the Supreme Court, but for any public official.
Unfortunately, Carrington’s preferred solution is no solution at all. He proposes appointing a new justice every two years. But, he writes, “only the nine most junior justices, by years of service, would sit and decide every case. The rest would then act as a sort of ‘bench’ team, sitting on cases as needed because of the disability or disqualification of one of the junior justices.”
How the Commerce Clause Made Congress All-Powerful 0
A Clause for Any Cause 0
Judge Andrew P. Napolitano joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in January 1998, and currently serves as the Senior Judicial Analyst. He provides on air legal analysis every weekday throughout the day on FNC and on its sister network, Fox Business Network (FBN). He hosts “FreedomWatch” on FBN, Saturday at 10 am and 8 pm, and Sunday at 7 pm and 11 pm Eastern time. He is also the regular fill-in host for “The Glenn Beck Program” on FNC, weekdays at 5 pm.
Judge Napolitano is the youngest life-tenured Superior Court judge in the history of the State of New Jersey. While on the bench from 1987 to 1995, Judge Napolitano tried more than 150 jury trials, and sat in all parts of the Superior Court–Criminal, Civil, Equity, and Family. He has handled thousands of sentencings, motions, hearings, and divorces. For eleven years, he served as an adjunct professor of constitutional law at Seton Hall Law School, where he provided instruction in constitutional law and jurisprudence. Judge Napolitano returned to private law practice in 1995 and began television broadcasting in the same year.
Judge Napolitano has published five books on the U.S. Constitution. They are Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When The Government Breaks Its Own Laws; the New York Times bestseller, The Constitution in Exile: How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land; A Nation of Sheep; Dred Scott’s Revenge: A Legal History of Race and Freedom In America; and the New York Times bestseller Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception In American History.
His writings have also been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the New York Sun, the Baltimore Sun, the (New London) Day, the Seton Hall Law Review, the New Jersey Law Journal, and the Newark Star-Ledger. He lectures nationally on the Constitution and human freedom.
Judge Napolitano received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1972, and received his Juris Doctor degree from University of Notre Dame in 1975.
Have We Learned Our Lesson on Spending Yet? 0
By Nick Dranias
This article was originally published by the Goldwater Institute.
Promises of reduced spending swept dozens of self-proclaimed conservatives into power during the 2010 congressional elections. What did they do? They gave President Obama the power to lift the federal debt limit, twice failed to move a Balanced Budget Amendment proposal out of the House and promised spending cuts that look increasingly illusory.
As history increasingly shows, Washington’s limitless ability to incur debt is one of the greatest errors in our Constitution. Fortunately, there is no reason to wait for Congress to propose what Thomas Jefferson called the “Missing Amendment.”
Federalist No. 43, written by James Madison, emphasizes that Article V of the U.S. Constitution empowers “State governments to originate the amendment of errors.” This means state legislatures can compel Congress to call a convention for proposing constitutional amendments when 34 of them pass “applications” requesting one.
Not surprisingly, states and citizens are increasingly recognizing that Article V was designed to tackle the problem of the federal debt.
Last session, two states — Louisiana and North Dakota — passed National Debt Relief Amendment (NDRA) applications. They request an Article V convention to require any increase in the federal debt to be approved by a majority of state legislatures. Legislators in 20 states, including Arizona State Senator Linda Gray, will sponsor the NDRA this year.
Moving the federal debt debate to state legislatures would enable states and ordinary citizens to exert far more influence than they currently have. And the logistics of complying with this amendment would require the federal government to prepare budgets, debt financing proposals, and fiscal contingency plans months in advance.
The National Debt Relief Amendment would decentralize power, establish transparency and encourage basic fiscal responsibility. But no one should hold their breath waiting for Congress to propose it. The only realistic option is to impose it from the outside, and Article V of the U.S. Constitution gives us this power.
Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.
Guerrilla Jurors: Sticking it to Leviathan 0
By Don Doig and Stewart Rhodes
This article was published originally by LewRockwell.com.
Citizens in our (once) free republic founded under the English common law system, have both the power and the right to vote according to conscience when they sit on a jury and can vote not guilty even in the face of the law and in the face of the evidence. The defendant also has a right to expect that his jury will be fully informed of their rightful power to vote “not guilty” if they believe justice requires it, regardless of the evidence. Anything less is not a real jury trial.
The jury issues no opinion, gives no explanation of its decision. It simply renders its verdict, and if the verdict is “not guilty,” that acquittal cannot be questioned or overturned by any court. It is telling that a conviction can be overturned, but an acquittal cannot – the deck is stacked on the side of the liberty of the individual on trial. While a judge can overturn a jury conviction that in his judgment is unsupported by the evidence, or where the jury harbors prejudicial animus toward the defendant, the judge cannot overturn an acquittal even if the evidence is overwhelming – even if the defendant admits on the stand that he did the actions of which he is accused.
A landmark case in jury history is that of William Penn, the Quaker preacher who would later found Pennsylvania. He was put on trial in England for the “crime” of preaching a non-government approved religion on a public street corner. He did not deny that he had preached as a Quaker. He proudly proclaimed it. There was no doubt that English law at the time considered his actions criminal. That too was plain. And yet, the jury acquitted him in spite of the obvious, undisputed facts, and in the face of the clear law. That jury was initially held in contempt and jailed by the trial judge, but on appeal, the English appellate courts ruled that the jury has an absolute power to acquit despite the facts and in the face of the law, and that it cannot be punished for exercising its power. That acquittal helped to establish the free practice of religion.
The Evils of Intellectual Property 0
Against Intellectual Monopoly was one of my resources for the chapter “Patently Absurd” in my book “Constitutional Coup”. It was also helpful to Jeffrey Tucker at Mises.org for his highly entertaining lecture on the topic.
The National Debt Relief Amendment 0
This article was published originally by American Thinker.
Since the ratification of the Constitution in 1788, the states have never successfully convened an Article V convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. Now, however, a nationwide effort is underway to call an Article V convention to consider the National Debt Relief Amendment — a simple eighteen-word amendment designed to take power from the federal government and restore it to the states:
An increase in the federal debt requires approval from a majority of the legislatures of the several States. Regardless of the party in power, the federal debt continues to rise with no end in sight. The ruling class has squandered our hard-earned property, resulting in a fifteen-trillion-dollar debt. The Constitution provides two methods to propose amendments: by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress, or by application of two-thirds of the states to convene an Article V convention. Throughout the history of the United States, all constitutional amendments were proposed by Congress; states have never convened an Article V convention to propose amendments to the Constitution.
The National Debt Relief Amendment movement was started by restoringfreedom.org and the Goldwater Institute. The amendment was adopted as model legislation by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Two states, North Dakota and Louisiana, have already passed a resolution calling for an Article V convention limited to consideration of the one amendment only.
North Dakota State Senator Curtis Olafson sponsored the resolution in North Dakota and continues to work diligently with state legislators around the country. Eight other states have primary sponsors of the resolution, and an additional fourteen states are considering it. One key aspect of the resolution is that each state submits a uniform resolution calling for an Article V convention to consider this one amendment only. If successful, only the National Debt Relief Amendment would be considered at the Article V convention.