Alexander's Column

Pulling the Plug on our Constitution

By Mark Alexander · Mar. 18, 2010
“If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people … must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.” –Federalist No. 33
Democrat Leadership

(Follow the ObamaCare vote here.)

Our Constitution is on life support, and House Democrats are about to pull the plug.

Leaders of the Democrat Party (“Progressives” as they call themselves, Leftists as we call them) have been unable to garner popular or even Democrat Party support for their plan to socialize our health care system. Fortunately, Republicans are united in their opposition to this one issue.

Barack Hussein Obama, titular head of the Demos, proclaimed, “I want some courage. I want us to do the right thing.”

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi concludes, “Nobody wants to vote for the Senate bill.”

She originally proposed to overtly circumvent our Constitution by way of Rep. Louise Slaughter’s “self-executing rule,” which would allow the House to accept the already-passed Senate health care bill by presumption alone, thus negating a formal up-or-down vote by House members.

Pelosi confessed, “I like it because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.”

In the end, Pelosi bowed to public pressure not to “self-execute” and her minions submitted to an up or down vote.

Most of the Leftist-controlled political and popular debate about the Democrat proposal to turn over to the central government control of more than 17 percent of the U.S. economy, is focused on one question or another – what will it cost or save, who will pay and who won’t, who will be covered and for what, will there be enough physicians to support this in 10 years, will federal funds be used for abortion, can our economy afford another trillion dollar boondoggle, does it really address the entitlement cost tsunami we’re facing, ad infinitum.

These might be interesting topics for debate, but none are germane.

The only relevant debate must begin with First Principles, our Constitution and Rule of Law.

Does our Constitution allow the Executive and Legislative branches to collaborate to confer authority upon the federal government over, in this case, so-called “health care reform”?

Those who laid the Foundation of our Constitution were crystal clear about its enumeration of both the authority and limits upon the central government.

James Madison, our Constitution’s primary author, wrote, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined [and] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce.”

Madison continued, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.”

(And regarding all those “exemptions” and “exceptions” for members of Congress, I draw your attention to James Madison’s words in Federalist No. 57: “If this spirit shall ever be so far debased as to tolerate a law not obligatory on the legislature, as well as on the people, the people will be prepared to tolerate any thing but liberty.”)

Thomas Jefferson asserted: “[G]iving [Congress] a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole [Constitution] to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please. Certainly, no such universal power was meant to be given them. [The Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect.”

Clearly, our Constitution, does not authorize Congress to nationalize health care, anymore than it authorizes Congress to do most of what it does today.

That notwithstanding, Obama and his Leftist cadres in the House and Senate are moving forward with their endeavor to inflict socialized medicine upon the United States.

They have again, one and all, abandoned their oaths to “support and defend” our Constitution.

Democrat “leaders” have all been questioned about constitutional authority, and have uniformly asserted that the question is irrelevant.

Typical of their non-responses was this indignant question from Speaker Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?”

Such utter contempt for our Constitution explains why Democrats refuse to support any measure to cite constitutional authority for legislation. For example, the Enumerated Powers Act (HR 1359) would require that “Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise and definite statement of the constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act,” but for years, insurmountable obstacles have prevented passage of HR 1359 – and you know who they are.