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Authority to refuse Obamacare funding belongs to the House alone

By Dr. Harold Pease

In a 230/189 vote the U.S. House of Representative recently voted to fund the government but defund Obamacare. Can it do so constitutionally? Historically throughout the ages, the people have had little freedom from excessive government which became the cause of the American Revolution. Ramses, an Egyptian Pharaoh, made the Israelite slaves gather their own straw in addition to making the bricks. The greatest concerns of the masses have always been excessive taxation and unpopular wars because the first took their hard earned money and the second potentially their lives. Under the Constitution, and for the first time in history, they could prevent either.

Everything hinged upon funding which was given exclusively to the House of Representatives—the only power that they alone had. “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.” To fund anything, in this case Obamacare, first approval is required by the House of Representatives. If that does not happen taxpayer money cannot be spent. The people, through their representatives to Congress, have determined, after a three-year closer scrutiny of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), that it does not protect the patient, is not affordable and is not even workable; hence in the interests of the vast majority of the people needs to be defunded.

Spending can only occur after raising revenue and since only one body is authorized to initiate this, it follows that if they refuse to initiate it the issue ends, regardless of what the Senate chooses to do. Refusal is understood. Neither Senate or Presidential acceptance is necessary as on other bills—the people have spoken. If the House won’t do the necessary first part, second and third parts cannot follow. It might be well to remember that this grant to the House, in Article 7, is a grant of power separate from and preceding Section 8 which itemizes the law making, thus spending, powers of Congress. In this particular instance, raising revenue, the House has clear distinction and is set apart from the Senate. Any other interpretation would undermine, even destroy, the peoples right of approval of taxation—the right not to be excessively taxed. A right no other people in world history has had, as far as I am able to determine—a most precious freedom.

House opposition to funding Obamacare would have been far more powerful if made a “stand alone” bill not attached to general funding, but it is not. “Stand alone,” having no other parts, would have left the Senate no wiggle or compromise room once it went to them, nor would there be for the Joint Conference Committee thereafter that reconciles any differences between the two houses. There would be nothing to reconcile—Obamacare is merely defunded. No expenditures for Obamacare would follow. This course is recommended should the Senate strip defunding language from the bill when they get it. Such action on their part would be a slap in the face of The House of Representatives and they should accept it as such.

One benefit of keeping a defunding bill separate is that the President then could not as easily accuse the republicans of attempting to shut down the government. It would have nothing to do with funding the government. It would be a separate argument, which goes as follows. Not expending money is less likely to shut the government down than over expending which is what the House says the bill contributes to. Presently we are unable to pay our bills to the tune of between 3 to 4 billion dollars a day.

Choosing to defund in the normal budget bill, instead of as a separate bill, is a decidedly weaker approach. They subject themselves to a no vote from the Senate and a promised veto from the President, were it to make it through the Senate. Overriding the veto is not likely. The people lose again and the clarity of the Constitution, that the House alone has origin authority, is lost.

The long-term practice of not specifically raising revenue but instead listing expenditures, then asking for that amount of money, does cloud the issue and does allow the Senate to, in effect, raise revenue otherwise prohibited by clear constitutional language. We should have a separate bill disconnected from the budget, specifically intended to raise revenue. Since the budget bill is seen today as raising revenue we are probably stuck with the practice until some real constitutionalist get into office. If Obamacare expenses are omitted can the Senate, or Joint Conference Committee add them by amendment? Yes, and it will, and that is the problem!! For now it appears that the only hope of the House is to stand firm on the defunding issue in the Joint Conference Committee.

Still, the intent of the Founding Fathers was to give the people, through their House of Representatives, the power collectively to say no to any proposed federal tax, which she is decidedly doing. Members of the Senate should drop their resistance accepting the authority of their sister law making branch lest they play a dominate role in the loss of it by their ignorance of the Constitution. If this check on excessive government is destroyed, we may one day return to forcibly making bricks with straw that we are also forced to gather.

The Supreme Court may yet rule Obamacare unconstitutional

By Dr. Harold Pease

Many may not be familiar with Article I, Section 7 of the U. S. Constitution that requires that “all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” This means that any law, which extracts money from the American people, can only come from the House. The problem is The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, originated in the U.S. Senate not in the House as constitutionally required. The Pacific Legal Foundation, a Sacramento, California based foundation, is pursuing the matter before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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 themselves 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 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.

In the Supreme Court’s decision of June 2012, it took great pains to establish that Obamacare is not a law passed under the Commerce Clause; this is a tax they ruled. Whether a fine, as the Administration argued throughout the case, or a tax as Roberts insisted, it is an extraction of money from the masses and therefore a tax and therefore must originate from the House, not the Senate. The philosophical switch created by Roberts made the constitutional error far more glaring. By letting origin slide 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.

What is worse it smacks of a sloppy cover-up by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Now that the Supreme Court made healthcare constitutional by deeming it a tax, it mandated a House of Representative origin rather than the Senate. A House version HR 3200 was available but Reid did not like it favoring his own HR 3962, The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Choices Act. Prior to the Supreme Courts tax ruling the tax was called a fine, not a tax, so he reasoned that it did not make any difference which legislative body originated the fine. The ruling necessitated resurrecting a bill that had passed the House first but had not been acted upon in the Senate, the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 HR 3590, deleting its contents and pasting in the contents of the Senates bill HR 3962.

The Home Ownership Tax Act was a tax providing a first time home buyer’s credit to members of the Armed Services, never mind that it had nothing to do with healthcare and now, after being deleted leaving only the empty shell, had nothing to do with the Armed Services or home buying either. The only thing that Reid kept was the original date, September 17, 2009, which now deceptively confirmed that it preceded Senate action. Accomplices to Reid were the original authors of the deleted bill: Congressman Charlie Rangel of NY, and Senator Clare McCaskill of MO. This is the kind of morphing that reeks of illegitimacy and fraudulency (“Lawsuit to test Origination clause,” The Washington Times, April 8, 2013, p. 12. See Also www.Patriot Guardian.org).

What is even worse. If Reid had indeed simply pasted in his own bill into the dead Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act, as believed, this tax bill HR 3962, the one that became Obamacare, has never actually been before the House of Representatives, the only body actually authorized to originate a tax. Obamacare may be the only revenue-raising bill in American history originated, processed, and implemented by the Senate alone. Nothing could be more unconstitutional!!

If left unchallenged Obamacare severely damages Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution. As an accomplice, the Senate is unlikely to sympathize but you should find a friend in your Congressperson and governor. Each should have a vested interest in this power shift. Contact them with your own summation of the problem or send them a copy of this article.

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.

President Usurps the Purse Powers of Congress

By Dr. Harold Pease

The power of the purse (both taxing and spending) is one of the most important powers in the Constitution. The Founders resolved that it should be left with the representatives of the people; “all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives (Article I, Section 7).” This made it impossible, without the people’s consent, for them to be over-taxed for more than two years as all members of this body come up for reelection on the same date—every two years.

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 58).”

The Constitution also requires that the U. S. Senate confirm the appointments of the Executive Branch (Art. II Sec II). The last two presidents have created a new level of bureaucratic government called Czars without any pretense of Constitutional authority, and none were presented for confirmation to the Senate as required by the Constitution. Moreover, most if not all, of Barack Obama’s 50 Czars make rules and regulations in dozens of areas where the President has no Constitutional authority to function, as identified in Article II, Sections II and III. Yes, the President has a list of powers, as do Congress and the Supreme Court. His doing so violates Art. I, Sec. I, which specifically leaves “all legislative powers herein granted” with a Senate and House of Representatives.

Finally, probably due to Tea Party influence in the last election giving the republicans some spine, Congress made a weak attempt to bring President Obama in line. Congress denied the funding of four of these so-called Czars. The law placed on the President’s desk for his signature or veto (the only two powers he has with respect to making law) April 15, 2011, could not have been clearer. “Sec. 2262. None of the funds made available by this division may be used to pay the salaries and expenses of the following positions: (1) Director, White House Office of Health Reform. (2) Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. (3) Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy. (4) White House Director of Urban Affairs.”

The President, in a procedure called a “Signing Statement,” also unconstitutional, boldly wrote that he would not obey this part of the proposed law, and then signed the law excluding the parts he disagreed with which meant that he wound continue to have these offices paid for. So in a dictatorial move he took spending power from Congress. The unconfirmed offices would be paid for anyway. The spending of money in essence requires it being first raised which again is a power left only to the House of Representatives. Congress defied by the President, dropped the issue.

Unfortunately “Signing Statements” was a practice used extensively by President George W. Bush to avoid the only two law-making powers a president has, allowing him a self-created third option. Prior to this time presidents simply vetoed the entire law if they disagreed with any portion thereof. They have no authority to pick and choose. Ironically, candidate Obama strongly and rightly condemned this practice as being unconstitutional when his predecessor did it. He then argued, “It is a clear abuse of power to use such statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like or as an end-run around provisions designed to foster accountability (Boston Globe, Dec. 20, 2007).”

But Congress alone has all taxing and funding powers as all money needed by the government must first come from the people, and they through their representatives clearly said no!! Article I, Sec. 9 reads, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law;” of course, all law must be passed by Congress as per Article I, Sec. I. The president is drawing money from the Treasury to fund positions not in the Constitution and against the clear will and directive of Congress. Congress must not concede its’ power over the purse to the executive branch. Their inaction now will do just that.

In this one issue the President has given new meaning to at least five parts of the Constitution. No one will destroy this document all at one time but by their ignorance or worshipful loyalty to party they will do so one piece at a time. In this case five. Please participate in preserving your own liberty and pass this column around.

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.