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.