|March 2018 AD
Do your job already !!!
US Constitution - Article 1, Section. 8.
The Congress shall have
Power 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; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform
throughout the United States;
We hire our Congressmen to do a job and their job description is written in the Constitution.
The Constitution says one of their job descriptions is to "lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises."
We did not hire the President to do this.
We did not hire the Supreme Court to do this,
We hired Congress.
If our Congressmen are afraid they will lose their jobs next election
if they raise taxes, or in this case raise the tax we call a tariff,
then they need to find another job anyway.
They cannot just hand their responsibilities over to the President and
then say, "Gee, don't blame me, not my responsibility -- the President
It is not their call to hand the power we gave them over to another we did not allow to have that power.
That is how you end up with a dictator, you hand him all your power.
To prevent a dictator, we purposely and carefully split power up equally into three branches of government.
Again, they work for us. If we wanted President Trump to get into trade
wars, we would modify the Constitution so that the job description for
trade wars or even real wars is the duty of the President.
If we wanted abortion, then Congress should have voted for it and
suffered the consequences for having done so at the elections. The fact
that Congress did not impeach the entire Supreme Court over Roe v Wade
is precisely because they actually wanted abortion to be legal and the
law of the land without them ever having to take a vote.
For having voted in favor of abortion would have doomed their career.
President Trump’s decision to place tariffs on imported steel and
aluminum has been accurately hailed as a “promise kept.” But is it also
an example of a political system broken and a constitution violated?
This question is not just a rhetorical criticism of the president, but
implies something far worse: a whole ruling class out of touch with
fundamental governing principles.
Much has been said, and screamed, about the wisdom or lack thereof of
imposing tariffs. But whether the levies represent economic wisdom or
whimsy, little has been said about an even more important matter: Who
actually has the legitimate constitutional power to impose them?
This may seem an academic question, but there’s a reason why some of us
stress adherence to the Constitution: It is the contract the American
people have with one another, the guarantor of our rights and freedoms.
Render it null and void via repeated violation, make it fashionable to
play fast and loose with its provisions, and those rights and freedoms
are in jeopardy — even those we hold most dear.
Now, on tariffs the Constitution is crystal clear, stating, “The
Congress shall have the Power 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.”
As National Review’s Jay Cost writes about the above, “That is,
Congress, not the president, was vested with the power to levy tariffs.
At the time of ratification, everybody expected that the first taxes
from Congress would be ‘imposts” — tariffs on imported goods. That is
exactly what happened, with the Tariff of 1789.
Cost is one of the few commentators sounding the alarm about this
constitutional trespass, asking, “Why in the world does the president
have the power to levy tariffs in the first place?” Liberal Vox
addressed this question on Thursday, correctly explaining that “over
the past century, Congress has shifted many of the powers to raise and
lower tariffs to the executive branch.”
It then continues, “There are many ways the president can impose tariffs without congressional approval,” and names a few:
• Through the Trading With the Enemy Act of 1917, the president can
impose a tariff during a time of war. But the country doesn’t need to
be at war with a specific country — just generally somewhere where the
tariffs would apply. (This is how Richard Nixon imposed a 10 percent
tariff in 1971, citing the Korean War.)
• The Trade Act of 1974 allows the president to implement a 15 percent
tariff for 150 days if there is “an adverse impact on national security
from imports.” After 150 days, the trade policy would need
• There’s the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977,
which would allow the president to implement tariffs during a national
Vox then informs, “Trump’s White House cited Section 232 of the Trade
Expansion Act of 1962, a provision that gives the secretary of commerce
the authority to investigate and determine the impacts of any import on
the national security of the United States — and the president the
power to adjust tariffs accordingly.”
This is all so wonky, involving so much dizzying detail, that it’s easy
to be distracted from the only relevant point: No matter how
well-written or impressive-sounding the law, can Congress legitimately
delegate its constitutional powers to others?
Let’s analogize: Can Congress legitimately pass legislation granting
the Supreme Court the power to enact law? (One could be forgiven for
supposing the courts fancy that they already have this power.) Can the
SCOTUS legitimately rule that Congress shall henceforth have the power
to adjudicate cases? Can the executive branch legitimately decree that
Congress shall have the power to enforce law?
This would be ridiculous, but no more so than asserting that Congress
can legitimately transfer its constitutional power to levy tariffs, or
any other power, to another governmental branch. Claiming otherwise is
to say that Congress has the rightful power to create laws contrary to
the Constitution. Of course, it does not.
Realize that saying “Congress’ power” doesn’t imply ownership in the
way I own my car or refrigerator. I can junk, sell or give away those
things. A constitutional power is more like how a soldier’s
government-issued rifle is “his gun”: He has the right to carry it and
even use it under prescribed circumstances, but he has no right to give
it away. It is on loan.
Government power in the United States is derived from the people. What
this means is that constitutional powers can only be transferred or
altered with the people’s consent, and this can only be legitimately
done through the Amendment process. In other words, a government
branch’s power is its to use — not to give away.
Congress’ tariff transference reflects a wider phenomenon: Congress is
the only branch of government that has grown less powerful over the
last century — because it’s the only branch that willingly, and
sometimes anxiously, relinquishes its power. Why is this? Jay Cost got
at the reason when explaining why Congress assented to President
Franklin Roosevelt’s request that it transfer its trade authority to
him. “It was as if Congress threw up its hands in exasperation and said
to the president, ‘We cannot handle our authority responsibly. Please
take it off our hands, for we will screw things up and lose
reelection,’” wrote Cost.
Congress is supposed to be the most powerful of the three federal
branches because it’s the one most answerable to the people (the
House’s members run for re-election every two years). Yet this is
precisely why it’s the most cowardly: The frequent threat of being
voted from office makes career politicians reluctant to make
controversial decisions. They’d rather pass the buck.
This is why legislators let judges run roughshod over the Constitution.
The Congress could rein them in, by eliminating rogue federal courts
below the SCOTUS and limiting the appellate jurisdiction of the latter.
But then congressmen would have to make tough decisions on divisive
matters — marriage, DACA, ObamaCare, etc. — and incur voter wrath at
election time. (Regarding issues outside the federal government's
enumerated powers, the decision should be that it is none of the
federal government's business.) Congressmen would instead rather puff
up their chests and posture, let judges render opinions, then throw up
their hands and say, “Well, we tried! But the courts have ruled! And
the law is the law!” Of course, the voters don’t know civics and are
none the wiser, so the ruse works.
Congress is like a soldier who gives away “his gun” because he doesn’t
want the responsibility it brings. Unlike a soldier, unfortunately,
this doesn’t mean a dishonorable discharge. Instead, voter apathy and
ignorance allow politicians to continue “serving us” even while being
AWOL when the most significant battles need to be fought.
Article located at:
Last Hope for America
Christian Libertarian: Harmonious Union
Church and State