Friday, April 22, 2011

Twenty Eight Section 4 - 7

The first three sections of the 28th set the tax system right. Moving on to Sections 4 through 7 the focus shifts to state's rights and budgetary controls. These four sections are made necessary by the broad affect of the Commerce Clause of the original Constitution. The Supreme Court in its interpretation has again used the Parthenon as an example of a Nebraska sod house. An important and unfortunate emergence caused by the Court's interpretation is the existence of an implicit uniform national standard. Sometimes a uniform standard is useful, but not all the time applied to all things. The Commerce Clause is carte blanche to dictate programs, entitlements, and the like among the states. Washington says: "If you want the money you will learn to do business like we do." The result is the Consolidated States of America versus the United States.

The intent of the original Constitution was to allow the States to distinguish themselves, but in the same stroke establish standards so that an ounce of gold in North Carolina was equal to an ounce of gold in New York. Standards like the ounce are indeed reasonable, but entitlements and social programs are the responsibility of the individual States. The state governments already have boots on the ground. Why risk making a mockery of the mission in the doing?
Section 4
All agencies, programs, entitlements and other devices that will be excised by budgetary requirements will be returned to the responsibility of the individual States. No federal regulations or legislation will dictate how the States fund or execute such devices.

This is a practical system wherein the States, still under the constraints of Article 1 Section 10 of the Constitution, can manage public programs commensurate with local circumstances. The States distinguish themselves by governing how local circumstances are handled. But even still, Congress has hold of the reins with respect to distributed revenue first generated through the income tax described in Section 2. Section 5 limits Congress' ability to stretch it's authority.
The Congress may not make State eligibility for redistribution of revenue contingent on compliance with regulations or legislation that in effect is a nationally uniform standard.

Ultimately, we the People are the source of budgetary revenue, be it state or federal. Revenue comes from the pockets of real persons and funds the budget. Funding any project requires a few preconditions. Control over spending is merely right business. So we clamp down hard on priorities and remove one more angle Congress could use as economic intimidation.
Section 6
Those areas of federal responsibility prescribed by the original Constitution will have budgetary priority. No bill will be passed that funds any other concern without first meeting the budgetary requirements of these areas. No funding will be included in the budget for a concern that is the responsibility of and reserved to the States.

Last and arguably most important, it's time to correct the Commerce Clause. The founders didn't foresee the advent of virtual shop space. They lived in a world where wagons crossed state boundaries to get to market. Today, data packets cross state and national boundaries by the second. Even doing business at a local grocery store, most likely the point of sale is talking to a computer in some other state. Virtually every purchase that's made from national chains crosses state boundaries. Every purchase falls under the Commerce Clause. Finally, we face the last elephant standing. All of the previous sections are dominoes that have fallen, but are meaningless if this one remains standing.
Section 7
Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution is hereby amended to read as follows: "To regulate commerce with foreign Nations and with the Indian Tribes."

The phrase "among the States" is notably missing. The great elephant itself is gone! Congress, having abused the interpretation of the Commerce Clause, can no longer lean on it. Section 7 completes a system of taxation and budgetary law that puts things right and forever prevents runaway spending. This amendment is more complete than any balanced budget amendment. It goes directly after the pain points that are causing the most trouble. Addressing the cause rather than legislating masks for the symptoms. The proposed 28th Amendment empowers the States, limits the power to tax, and constrains the extent of the budget. If Congress repeats history, it will do so outside of Constitutional boundaries. Send a copy of the proposed 28th Amendment to your representatives and while you're at it, tell them you want your money back.

You can find the complete proposed 28th Amendment here. Show your support for the authors who have put a great deal of thought into it.

The Twenty Eighth Section 1 - 3

The first three sections of the proposed 28th Amendment target taxes. The U.S. tax system is a behemoth. Everyone knows it. Little can been done to simplify and shrink the bloated jabberwock. Alexander Hamilton argued for the unlimited power to tax. Due respect to the Honorable Mr. Hamilton, unlimited power to tax is not necessary and will always be abused. What were you thinking?

When little or nothing can be done to prune unnecessary complexity, the thing to do is cut the vine off at the root and stand vigil until the monster is dead. That's exactly what Section 1 does.
The 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Repealing the 16th Amendment does not target the Federal Reserve, however the IRS is not sacrosanct and the tax code must come down with it. Section 1 undermines the Internal Revenue Act of 1913. Section 2 establishes the tax code in the Constitution. The distribution of a direct tax must be equally apportioned according to the census. No other revenue means is allowed, and a ceiling is established to cap federal revenue.
Congress may collect no revenue by any means other than a flat individual income tax not to exceed 15% of an individual's net earnings, a flat corporate tax not to exceed 10% of net revenues and actual user fees for services. All citizens and businesses shall be taxed at the same rate, and no exceptions, exemptions, or credits will be allowed.

The phrase 'not to exceed' can't be stressed enough. Congress will still establish the actual rate, but the tax itself is flat and no exemptions, less chance of corporations getting off easy. Effectively, this caps the tax rate but gives Congress the flexibility it needs to address national crises. Nevertheless, Congressional power to tax must be limited. Likewise, the power to invent the budget also must be limited. But we still have to face the unpredictable caveats. If the power to tax is curtailed, how are wars and responses to national emergencies paid for? Hence, Section 3:
A. Any budget passed by the Congress must be funded by actual revenues collected through taxes as described in Section 2. Except in time of War as defined below, no deficit spending, borrowing on future funds, borrowing from other entities or other mechanisms to meet budget requirements will be allowed.
B. For the purposes of this section, "War" shall be defined as hostilities declared by the President of the United States in the Constitutional role of Commander-in-Chief, and authorized by the Congress under the terms of the "War Powers Act" of 1973. Any funds borrowed shall be used exclusively for executing that War and shall be re-paid entirely no later than 15 years from the end of the War.

War is the only emergency specified in Section 3 and we might be tempted to include natural disasters, but then the definitions get slimy. What precisely, as in the War Powers Act of 1973, is a national disaster and how is it declared? In my opinion, it's better not to open that rabbit hole. There are other ways to manage those situations. The question not withstanding, overall this is a good start at reconstructing the U.S. tax system. Much more than just a straw man.

The next post will complete my review of the 28th. See the original proposed 28th Amendment here. Show the authors your support.

Introducing the Twenty Eighth Amendment

There's a anti-war song with the refrain: "I know you're fit for fighting, but what are you fighting for?" That question has been roiling around in my head for months. When I ask people say they want their country back. "Let's get back to the Constitution," some say. The People obviously want a redress of grievances, but what is the compensation? If riding on the Constitution is how we arrived here, what do we mean by: get back to it? If a representative asked, how could I give a direct answer?

Maybe 'getting back' to the Constitution is only a truth in part while the real weight is a wish to revitalize the spirit wherein the original Constitution was created. However, the supreme law of the land has been patched twenty-seven times, the spirit threadbare and frayed. The original intent and meaning now vague and out of context, now we want to reengage the spirit of it's creation.

Reigniting the spirit of the Constitution implies 'cleaning house'. Clearing the cobwebs and polishing the tarnished, disposing the useless and protecting the treasured. A proposed 28th Amendment is a way to clean house without damaging the woodwork. The means to bring to bare the implements of political happiness sharpened and wielded with skill and care because these are ideas worth fighting for. Something meaningful when all it seems we have are grievances and the vote.

The proposed 28th Amendment consists of seven sections. Each section has a clear focus. The whole amendment can be divided into two areas of concern. The first three sections reinvent the tax system and establish a concise tax code. The last four sections focus on budgetary priorities and reestablish state's rights and standing. My next blog entry reprints sections 1 through 3 with commentary.

See the Proposed 28th Amendment here and lend some moral support to the authors.