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Anger at Tea Party should be at those who demean Founding Principles

Dr. Harold Pease

The great majority of our establishment press almost gleefully speak of the plummeting Tea Party image over its support of defunding Obamacare, which was linked to the partial government shutdown. This should not surprise us, as the vast majority of the press, excepting FOX News, has never been friendly toward this movement. The view that it instead may be soaring is treated nowhere in their coverage. That Senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party senator, received an eight minute standing ovation from a large crowd when he returned to Texas is unheard of and certainly supports the view that many seem favorable to a member of Congress finally willing to fight; that he isn’t just there to protect his party or job.

So who is the so-called Tea Party? I know a little about it because I helped form it—as did you. It was one of the most spontaneous political movements in U.S. History somewhat similar to the spontaneous rise of the Republican Party, where people united in the 1850’s in their opposition to the extension of slavery; or the Populist Party movement in the 1890’s, based largely on its opposition to the gold standard and supported the Free Silver movement. In each, as with the Tea Party, there were no known original leaders. Tea Party founders, you and I, loved the Constitution, which limits government, and the free market philosophy, that together made us the freest most productive and prosperous nation on earth. Understood also was that both parties must get back to these philosophies lest freedom and prosperity be lost to future generations.

Actually the movement began in opposition to George W. Bush’s $700 billion stimulus bailout package at the end of his term, which received bi-partisan support from President-Elect Barack Obama and the Democrats. Both parties were on the same page and taking us in the wrong direction—bigger government and debt insanity. Tea Party groups began to spring up everywhere in early February 2009, each with their own leaders. Three city leaders in the East, learning of the simultaneous rise of sister cites, contacted each other to compare notes. They liked the name Tea Party because they wished, by that name, to emulate our founding philosophy. Even so, they were uncertain what their core values should be so they invited Internet submissions from the thousands who felt similarly. Still, there was no known single leader. My daily submissions encouraged getting back to the Constitution. The three most frequently submitted core values, and the one’s selected, were: limited constitutional government, free market and fiscal responsibility—precisely the collective views of our Founders.

In my community the leader of the movement was Julie Demos, a second grade teacher, who had had no prior political experience. She was perfect. This was the gathering of the people who no longer wished to use political party, but the Founders core values, in promoting good government. Between three and five thousand folks gathered at the Liberty Bell in April 15, 2009, many spoke, including myself. Over 600 cities throughout the nation had similar gatherings. The movement was not party based. We wished to attract those who wished to get back to these core values. Our own Congressman Kevin McCarthy and House Speaker John Boehner, were denied the podium for that reason. They attended and viewed the proceedings as spectators as did everyone else. This was not a Republican Party rally! Fifteen thousand heard myself and others speak on getting back to the Constitution at the Tulare Ag Center on July 4th in support of over a million who gathered in Washington DC. Two other times such numbers gathered in the capitol before years end.

When I was young I assumed that I would have been with the patriots at Lexington and Concord when the British came to take their guns, or with Patrick Henry when he gave his famous speech that was highlighted by the phrase, “Give me liberty or give me death.” I would have been at Valley Forge with George Washington. When I learned much later that only a third of the people were patriots, another third too apathetic to care, and yet another third Tories, who actually assisted the British during the war, I wondered whether I would have had the clarity of thought to have picked the right side. Would have you? It comes to this, if you share the core values of the Founding Fathers you will befriend the Tea Party movement, then and now; if you do not, then it is likely that you would have been a Tory, then and now.

The Tea Party fight is not just about defunding Obamacare, which turns over to the federal government one-seventh of the economy, it is this and so many other things that have been taken over by the federal government without clear constitutional language as per Article I, Section 8. Any other approach weakens the Constitution. It is about over-taxing one part of the population to feed the other. It is about over-spending to the point that the entire economy collapses. It is about liberty itself. Tories in the American Revolution could not see any of this and opposed liberty. Tories today, from both parties, are equally blind. Some of us value movements and people, like Ted Cruse, that actually fight for liberty and that is why he received the eight-minute standing ovation. So please don’t be angry at the Tea Party for standing for our founding principles, instead be angry with those who demean them.

The Shutdown: What is Really Happening?

By Dr. Harold Pease

As of day 9 of our federal government services slowdown (only 17 percent of which has been shutdown) it becomes very obvious that there are two warring sides and no middle. Democrats blame republicans and republicans blame democrats and confidence in our Congress is now at an all-time low of eleven percent. There appear to be no neutral news sources. So what are the indisputable facts that I can certify?

Every September the U.S. House of Representatives passes what is now referred to as a Continuing Resolution funding the government for another year. It is normal to have bickering over specific programs and amounts. It is also true that all bills for raising revenue must originate in the House and that constitutional power was exclusively left with this branch in as much as it alone, of the two, was to represent the people, in this case protect them from excessive taxation. Not funding items is also a common practice and has not been particularly controversial or questioned until now. Funding is the constitutional prerogative of the House and the Senate should back away because by not doing so they do probable irreparable damage to Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution.

This aside, conservatives believe that it also will enhance federal power to the tune of one-seventh of the economy and will place the IRS in charge of mandatory collections, an organization presently accused of targeting conservatives, especially religious and Tea Party types, for extra scrutiny. Louis Learner, a prominent IRS administrator, having pled the Fifth to the above noted charges before Congress, reportedly referring to them as “terrorists.” Obviously Tea Party folks, whose core value is to get back to the Constitution, fear abuse of power should the federal government have both the power to enforce taxation and have access to medical records as well.

So why won’t the Democrats simply back off and honor what is traditional to honor? The House has agreed to fund the government—ALL OF THE GOVERNMENT—even the parts that they traditionally oppose, minus Obamacare, and they did so September 20, 2013—ten days before the shutdown. The Republican controlled House of Representatives DID NOT shut down the government but did just the opposite. It fully funded it giving the democrats every thing that they wanted without opposition except this one thing. Again, why won’t the democrats accept this? Because it is their signature legislation and they rightly see this as a threat to the legislation. Socialize healthcare they have coveted for fifty years.

On September 27, the democratically controlled U.S. Senate under Harry Reid stripped the defunding language out of the bill and sent it back to the House refusing to compromise. The next day the House Republicans still voted to fund the government entirely plus fund Obamacare, if Senate Democrats would delay Obamacare for one year for everyone and would repeal the medical device tax. To this point President Barack Obama had given exemptions to big business groups and Congress. In support of the public outcry, “I Want My One-Year Delay Of ObamaCare!” the House voted to give a one-year exemption to everyone, not just the privileged few.

Two days later, Sept. 30, Harry Reid and Senate Democrats refuse to compromise and stripped the two amendments from the Continuing Resolution returning it to the House. The House again agreed to full funding of the government, to delay the individual mandate for a year, and to take away the health care subsidies given members of Congress and their staffs earlier this year. Many wondered why Congress would pass a bill that they themselves would not abide by. Requiring Congress to live under Obmacare, just like the rest of the American people, was sure to move Senate Democrats. It didn’t.

As with the other compromises offered by the House in addition to fully funding the federal government, including every pet democratic expense, it was refused and stripped from the resolution. The House was the only body doing any compromising and it was doing so with itself from a position of strength to an ever weaker position. Some suggested that there was no need for the President or the Senate to compromise; the House did it for them. Still, the media wrongly blamed the republicans for the government shutdown.

Next the House appointed conferees and sent a message to the Senate requesting a conference meeting to resolve their differences. This too was rejected and on midnight Tuesday, October 1, the government shut down. On that same day the House began passing single authorization appropriation bills in an effort to keep payments flowing for veterans and for NIH kids with cancer. Other bills funded the National Guard, Head Start and the National Park Services—eleven spending bills to date. Harry Reid rejected them all.

The most recent House Republican compromise offer, October 9, was to create a super committee consisting of both parties to work out their differences on this issue plus the upcoming debt ceiling resolution due October 17. I predict that the republicans will eventually go for a higher debt ceiling and democrats the new Super Committee. This accomplished the Super Committee will talk itself into oblivion as have earlier Senate Super Committees and accomplish nothing leaving Obamacare funded after all. On debt ceiling raises the republicans are normally outfoxed and on defunding they have repeatedly compromised the strength of their position without any democratic help.

Have some of the causes for revolution listed in the Declaration of Independence returned?

By Dr. Harold Pease

Should the patriots once again have ability to rewrite the Declaration of Independence what would they say? How might it be different? Many have asked, “Is it time to restate the obvious? We have lost much of our liberty, as they had, from their elected government.”

There is no reason to believe that the committee, headed by Thomas Jefferson, would retract the base for the right of revolution from “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”—definitely a higher level than mere man. Nor is there any reason to believe that they would retract “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Nor the right of revolution when all other means are exhausted, as they had, which is so eloquently stated in the remainder of the second paragraph. So we would expect them to retain the means of making revolution—the right to bear arms. The general theme of the last three paragraphs, that “in every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress” and “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,” would be retained as well.

What is, however, perplexing is how many of the listed oppressions—the causes of the American Revolution—have returned in our day. Jefferson targeted the King for the oppressions but Parliament, an elected body, was actually responsible for most of them as is Congress in our day. These include: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” This would be our unelected federal bureaucracy today, 2.8 million strong. The $50 million for IRS parties and $70 million for IRS bonuses in 2013 come to mind. We have yet to hire the 16,000 new folks to administer our socialized medicine (Obamacare) programs, yet another enormous swarm “to eat out our substance.” These officers live off the wealth produced by others.

“He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.” Bradley tanks were used against the Branch Davidian Church during the Clinton Administration, and FEMA and the federalized National Guard were used in New Orleans during the hurricane Katrina under George W. Bush. The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act legalizes military kidnapping of American citizens thought by the President and military to be “terrorist” and shipped to Guantanamo Bay and detained without trial indefinitely. Civil power was/is told to be secondary or non-existent in these examples.

“He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Act of pretended Legislation:” The United Nations was created by treaty. It’s law, often “foreign to our constitution” is becoming recognized universal law with authority to supersede national law. The Supreme Court often references UN law to establish constitutionality of U.S. law. A pending case is the UN Small Arms Treaty which opponents of gun control fear will be used to nullify our Second Amendment.

“For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent.” Anytime a president offers money to a foreign country by way of treaty, as did President Jimmy Carter in the Panama Canal Treaty, he is taxing us without our consent. Only the House of Representatives, which is excluded from treaty making, can raise a bill of revenue. When the Senate, which is supposed to approve all treaties, and the President offer money in a treaty it “imposes taxes on us without our consent.” Today presidents offer reams of money to foreign countries without a thought to asking the people first, as required by the Constitution.

“For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury.” The National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law on New Years Eve 2011 by President Barack Obama, potentially removes trial by jury altogether for citizens thought by the president to be terrorists. A term never defined. If a trial is held at all it will be out of the country and in a military court—without the benefit of the Bill of Rights.

“For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences.” Once again the NDAA transports us secretly, unbeknown to our friends and family and potentially without notice to civil authorities, to Cuba for indefinite detention. Nothing that the British did to us in 1776 was more drastic than this.

“For…altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.” Our government has been moving from a republic to a democracy and now into socialism for many decades led by both major political parties. At least Barack Obama was honest with us when he promised to “fundamentally change” our government if elected.

“For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.” Our legislatures have been suspended when five things, now very common, happen: 1) when Congress usurps the powers of state governments to themselves, 2) when Congress allows an unelected bureaucracy to add sometimes thousands, of new regulations to a new law, 3) when the President makes law by executive order, 4) when the President appoints so-called Czars to administer programs and write new law for areas where the Constitution never gave the federal government any jurisdiction, 5) and when the Supreme Court rules in such a way as to create new law as in Obamacare.

I suppose the “Tories” in our day would argue, as they did then, “But our elected government gave us all these laws” (oppressions), thus it is okay because “we did it to ourselves.” That argument was made then as well but fortunately it did not keep the rest of us, the Patriots, from revolting nonetheless. Let us revolt by our vote to once again remove the returning offending tyranny and oppressions. Please share.

U.S. Senate short-circuits the Constitution on taxes, again.

By Dr. Harold Pease

The Constitution is exceptionally clear on the origin of all taxes. “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” not the Senate (Article I, Sec. 7). When is the House going to protect its powers from the Senate’s intrusive attempts to steal its power? Recently the Senate passed the “Marketplace Fairness Act” by a vote of 69-27, an Internet sales tax, giving states the authority to require on-line retailers, with no physical presence in those states, to collect sales taxes. Americans will pay more taxes with this bill than without. It is a bill for raising revenue and it did not originate in the House as mandated by the Constitution.

To put the Senate in its constitutional place the House should never take this bill up. Instead, if they feel such legislation is needful, they should originate their own bill after which invite the Senate to take a new bill through the committee process and to the floor once again. I might also suggest not doing so for a year or two just to make the message stronger. “You are infringing on our constitutional jurisdiction.” If the Senate will not do so, the House should consider the bill non-existent. Under no circumstances should they accept this bill as appropriate action on the part of their sister law-making body. Retailers, on the other hand, should refuse to pay this tax and challenge it in the courts on the constitutional grounds cited above.

Unfortunately, this is becoming a practice on the part of the U.S. Senate. Yet another infringing piece of legislation has also just passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 13-5 vote, the so-called “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, S.744, obviously originating therein. The Heritage Foundation estimates that this bill will cost taxpayers a net $6.3 trillion above what illegals contribute through taxes over the next 50 years providing benefits for millions now living in the United States. There may be debate over the numbers but what is clear is that the bill did not originate in the House of Representatives as constitutionally required and that Americans will pay more taxes with this bill than without it. Therefore it constitutes an unconstitutional tax.

The worst of all such recent intrusive taxes was “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” known as Obamacare, also originated in the Senate, not in the House as constitutionally required. Weeks ago I wrote of the extensive efforts on the part of the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, to cover this up following the judicial decree of Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. proclaiming it a tax when the administration had argued otherwise. The establishment media should have been all over this story and was not. Obamacare may be the only revenue-raising bill in American history originated and processed by the Senate alone. Nothing could be more unconstitutional!!

So why does this matter, a tax is a tax? For thousands of years governments taxed their citizens with no limits. Rulers lived lavishly off the wealth extracted from their poor subjects with little or no mercy toward them—lavish physical structures and frivolous wars of conquest were too often the norm. The Founders wisely took this power from the rich and gave it to the poor by requiring that the poor, then the majority, had to consent to any taxation over them. The power to tax is the only constitutional power exclusively given to the masses. The House of Representatives was the only branch of government designed to actually represent them as it is based upon population. The Senate was to represent the states, the people only indirectly.

As far as I know the United States is the first, possibly the only, country in world history that puts its tax base with the masses who pay the taxes. It is a priceless freedom. If we are over-taxed in the United States we have chosen to be so and one body alone is responsible—The House of Representatives. No tax can constitutionally originate with the President or the Supreme Court, (even if Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. says that it is okay), not even the Senate, although it can modify as on other bills once originated by the House. The House is also in charge of spending. We must not let this freedom dwindle or allow the line between the two legislative branches to be blurred into oblivion.

By letting “origin” slide in these three matters, the House looses its clear distinction on the origin of taxes and the people their right of first approval of taxation for generations yet unborn and probably forever. If left unchallenged these three offending bills, one already implemented, severely damage Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution. All involved are under oath to preserve the Constitution. There is nothing in the Constitution more clear than this. Liberty is lost one piece at a time. It is also restored one piece at a time. Pass this around.

How is it that so many get tax refunds when they have paid no taxes?

By Dr. Harold Pease

Take my talented friend Ellen who is a single mother with one qualifying child with a very modest adjusted income of $18,957. She paid no federal income tax in 2012, but did receive a “tax refund” of $3,500.

With a college degree in Art she should have full-time employment in some school but in hard times art is often undervalued and among the first cuts. “I know that with my small income, I have to make some hard choices about ‘wants’ and ‘needs,’” she said, “and that often means doing without some things. If I can’t pay for it, then I figure out how to do without it.” She drives a 17-year-old car. Certainly she can use the free money, and is grateful for any help, but she knows that having paid no taxes she should not be getting a “tax refund.”

What is happening to Ellen is happening to hundreds of thousands of other “Ellen’s” throughout the nation and has for most of two generations. It is called Earned Income Credit (EIC) and was a provision of the Tax Reduction Act of 1975, introduced by Republican President Gerald Ford. Initially it gave only $400 per child for low-income taxpayers. The provision was made permanent under President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and has been supported and increased by every president since—Republican or Democrat—regardless of its serious questionable constitutional legitimacy.

Eligibility depends on two variables, one, adjusted gross income, the other number of kids ranging from none to three. Parents without children must be at least 25 years of age and under 65. For taxable year 2012 that income level must be less than 13,980 if single (married filing jointly $19,190) with no children. With one child it can go to $36,920 if single, $42,130 if married filing jointly. With two children it can increase to $41,952 and $47,162. With three children it increases to $45,060 and $50,270 (New American, April 1, 2013 p. 26).

Basically as the IRS describes it, they pay the parent(s) when earned income tax credit “exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit.” Yes, I said this correctly. Amazing!! Only under socialism can this be explained thus.

So, for a typical two child family this taxable year “they can make up to $27,104 and not only owe nothing in taxes, but get a $4,220 earned income credit plus a $1,000 per child additional tax credit refund to them. This effectively gives them an artificial income of $33,324. This is better than a real income increase of that amount because the family’s income is still $27,104 when qualifying for public assistance and when figuring the taxable wages for Social Security and Medicare.” The maximum benefit is scheduled to rise this year “to $6,044, with a partial benefit available for taxpayers with incomes up to $46,227” and $51,567.

This raises some very serious questions legitimately posed by the New American magazine: “If a tax credit ‘payment’ is more than the tax owed, the taxpayer receives a net payment from the government—a refund of money he never paid in.” Moreover, “how can the Earned Income Credit be called a tax refund when it is other people’s money that is refunded?” And, “Why do ‘low to moderate income working individuals and families;’ need a tax credit, when they generally pay no federal income taxes in the first place?” The government, whether lead by Democrats or Republicans, does not want to answer these questions.

As we have reported before, almost 50% of Americans pay no federal income taxes. How can this be fair to the taxpayer who is forced to pay for another family when often he needs his own limited resources for his own kids—especially for those just above the qualifying lines for special government “goodies;” known as the working poor?

Ellen, though grateful for the help, asks the same question. “Why did I get money that I didn’t even pay into the system? My friends who don’t have dependents or other write-offs paid dearly.” She does not want a dole. “I want the government to get out of the way of free enterprise that might offer me better employment opportunities. I don’t want food stamps! I want opportunity! I don’t understand why people can’t see that this system is flawed.” She added, “What happened to the American Dream? President Barack Obama is offering us but low-end concessions. I don’t want to live like this!! I want to work!!” I told her if this column resulted in any job inquiries I would pass them on to her.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

When will the Republican Party take responsibility for its irresponsible spending?

By Dr. Harold Pease

Every evening as I watch the news I hear the Democrats blasted for their irresponsible, wasteful spending leading this nation to its highest national debt with over $6 trillion accredited to President Barack Obama alone. Just this week Secretary of State John Kerry gave the Palestinians some $500 million not to attack Israel. Last month Egypt reportedly received 16 F-16 fighter jets together with some 400 tanks; their likely target Israel, our supposed friend. Every year we give them $1.7 billion in foreign aid. All this while we close down White House tours allegedly because we do not have the money to keep them open. We presently spend (waste) about $20 billion dollars annually on “buying” friends, called foreign aid. The spending goes on and on with Democrats, according to the news, responsible for most of it.

So, if true, why attack the Republican Party? They are not in charge Democrats are! That was so for Obama’s first two years in power, but decidedly not so since 2010. When Republicans retook the House of Representatives and Nancy Pelosi handed the gavel of leadership to John Boehner, Republicans assumed the major responsibility of this Congressional body—taxing and spending. The Constitution reads, “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills” (Article I, Section 7, Clause 1). Neither the Senate nor the White House can constitutionally initiate taxes. All the Republican controlled House has to do to stop irresponsible spending is to not originate the bill to cover the expenses. The annual House Budget could leave out items formerly approved. Deficit spending could end simply by their refusal to pass new deficit spending bills.

It is true that the President has not had a budget, although required by law, in over four years and he is already almost two months late in proposing one this year as well. Until such time as one is processed constitutionally the House budget should be the official federal budget. It is also true that no tax law can originate to cover his expenses without first the consent of the House of Representatives. Hence only the House Budget really matters. If a president spends money not first approved by this body he is, in effect, raising revenue, a power that he does not possess and both parties should share in his condemnation. Sole power of impeachment also originates from the House, and a president perpetually attempting to exclude the House of its sole power to raise revenue might be reminded of the second power. Also, given that a president’s salary is also a budget item, the House might explore the possibility of not raising revenue for this purpose should this body feel threatened by a president’s usurpation of the House power. This procedure was openly used by state legislatures on zealous royal governors to help bring them into line during Colonial American History.

Why do the House of Representatives alone have this power? The power of the purse (both taxing and spending) is one of the most important powers of the Constitution. The Founders resolved that it should be left with the representatives of the people, thus making it impossible for the people to be over-taxed without their consent for more than two years as all members of this body come up for reelection on the same date—every two years. To my knowledge no other people in history have had control over their taxes. It is a priceless freedom.

Addressing this subject James Madison observed, “This power over the purse may, in fact, 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, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.” The U.S. Constitution mandates that “the House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of government.” This power alone he added, “can overcome all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. They, in a word, hold the purse… (The Federalist, No. 58).”

So Republicans, if you do not like the above reckless spending charge that I have attributed to you, assume your Constitutional House of Representatives duty to protect the people from such and do so immediately. You are in charge in this matter, not they. Your failure to act weakens this part of the Constitution. Mankind waited almost 6,000 years to have freedom from excessive taxation. You do not have the right to lose it for posterity.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.