Category archives: Economics

More on Health Care & the Constitution

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 13, 2009

Sen. Daniel Akaka is probably the quietest person in the U.S. Senate. He is known as a kindly man who votes faithfully but is not a vocal or activist member of the “upper body.” But this week, when asked if there is a constitutional basis for the Democratic health care bill, he candidly said, “Im not aware of that, let me put it that way.”

Good way to put it, Senator, because your lack of awareness indicates that at least you know your Constitution well enough to recognize that it contains no basis for this latest exercise in federal elbow-throwing.

Sen. Akaka’s colleague Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) could learn from him. Sen. Reed was asked by a reporter where in the Constitution does Congress get its authority to mandate that individuals purchase health insurance?

Reed responded, I would have to check the specific sections, so Ill have to get back to you on the specific section. But it is not unusual that the Congress has required individuals to do things, like sign up for the draft and do many other things too, which I dont think are explicitly contained (in the Constitution).

Sen. Reed is an undoubted patriot, a former Marine who served honorably in Vietnam. So it is disappointing that someone of his political stature would equate the draft with an individual federal mandate of citizens for non-military purposes. To what many other things is Reed referring?

In the 1918 Arver v. United States case, the Supreme Court ruled that the draft is constitutional because it is essence an implementation of the Constitutions provision for the federal government to create a standing army (Article I, Section 8). Men (and women) are needed to defend the nation, and during times of national crisis conscription might be needed.

The Democratic health plan (H.R. 3962), passed last weekend in the House, goes well beyond any authority conferred on the federal government, through our written Constitution, by “We, the People.” In fact, the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) wrote to the House Ways and Means Committee that “failure to comply with the terms of the law that the Democrats passed last weekend could put people in jail. The JCT told the committee that anyone who decides not to maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” or, absent that, pay the individual health insurance mandate tax of about 2.5 percent of income, would be liable to large fines or prison sentences” (The Washington Times, “Tax Penalties and Prison,” by Donald Lambro, November 12, 2009).

The JCT went on to write that “H.R. 3962 provides that an individual (or a husband and wife in the case of a joint return) who does not, at anytime during the taxable year, maintain acceptable health insurance coverage for himself or herself and each of his or her qualifying children is subject to an additional tax.”

This mandate is unconstitutional in its own right and also poses a serious threat to the fundamental liberty of ordinary Americans: When the federal government requires specific economic activity (in this case, the purchase or acceptance of a health insurance plan) and threatens to impose “fines or prison sentences” for non-compliance, our essential freedom as citizens is eroded and our path into coerced political subjection all the more obvious - and dangerous.

Inheritance of Debt

by Jared Bridges

November 4, 2009

FRC’s new ad, “Inheritance of Debt”:

Transcript:

ATTORNEY: My sincere condolences upon the passing of your loved one. Upon review of the will, your grandfather has bequeathed to you, this stack of bills!

NARRATOR: Our government’s irresponsible programs will leave our country buried under 9 trilliion dollars in new spending with no plans for payment, shackling our children with an inheritance of debt.

Family Research Council is responsible for the content of this advertising.

Watch our other ad here, and help us air this ad by contributing here.

Live Webcast Tonight - Government Takeover of Healthcare: Counting the Cost

by Jared Bridges

November 3, 2009

Be sure to tune in tonight at 8:30 p.m. EST for the live video webcast of Government Takeover of Health Care: Counting the Cost. Weve invited Members of Congress, financial analysts, and FRC policy experts to join us live at our Washington, D.C. headquarters to help us assess this bill as Congress prepares to vote this week.

Participants include:

  • Host: Tony Perkins, President, FRC Action
  • Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
  • Congressman Charles Boustany, M.D. (R-La.)
  • Congressman Mike Pence (R-Ind.)
  • Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director, National Right to Life
  • Karen Steward, Research Analyst, The Polling Company
  • Tim Wildmon, President, American Family Association
  • Bryan Fischer, Director of Issue Analysis, American Family Association
  • Richard Scott, Chairman, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, Conservatives for Patients Rights
  • Phil Kerpen, Policy Director, Americans for Prosperity
  • Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, FRC Action
  • David Christensen, Senior Director of Congressional Affairs, Family Research Council
  • Dr. David Prentice, Senior Fellow for Life Sciences, Center for Human Life and Bioethics, Family Research Council
  • Cathy Ruse, Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, Family Research Council

An archive of the webcast will be available following the event.

Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong

by Chris Gacek

October 26, 2009

Jeffrey Kuhner is one of the best conservative writers going these days. His column appears on Sundays in the Washington Times. He has a way of getting to the heart of a topic, and two Sundays ago he addressed President Obamas jihad against Fox News Channel (see Whos Partisan Now, 10/18/09, p. B1):

For decades, the Washington press corps has presented itself as the guardian of political order and institutional stability. They are the real news experts whose experience and rational judgment are necessary to preserve fairness and objectivity. The rise of Fox News and the New Media - Internet news sites, such as the Drudge Report, World Net Daily and Newsmax, along with talk radio - has ripped away that shallow, smug and self-satisfied journalistic veneer.

The emergence of Fox News is a sign many Americans no longer trust the political and media class. It is part of a larger populist revolt that is slowly reshaping our society. The American people crave government accountability and political transparency. Moreover, many in the heartland rightly sense that something has gone terribly wrong. They are slowly losing their country to globalist progressives who no longer share any attachment to traditional America. (my emphasis)

Right, and we recently got an Exhibit A of things gone terribly wrong.

Heres a headline from a Financial Times story: [Securities and Exchange Commission] hires Goldman [Sachs] alumnus to head enforcement division. Fox, hen house. Say no more. But there is more. First paragraph of updated story: The Securities and Exchange Commission has hired a 29-year-old Goldman Sachs alumnus as managing executive of its enforcement division. Is this a joke? I guess no high school students were available. Well, he has an MBA from New York University. I am so glad the SEC is serious about enforcement.

It Has Been Worse

by Robert Morrison

October 19, 2009

I’ve been on travel the past week, visiting with college administrators, staff, and students. I’m often asked by concerned young people: “Has it ever been this bad before?”

Oh, my yes. When I was your age, I tell them, 300 American cities went up in flames after Dr. King was assassinated, riots in the streets turned huge areas of America’s cities into no-go zones. Bob Kennedy was assassinated en route to a likely presidential nomination. Three hundred young Americans were dying in Vietnam every week, with no strategy for victory and no end in sight. Inflation was rampant and few Americans could see our country healing after such terrible divisions.

But heal she did. Last week, I witnessed American troops coming home from Iraq in two of our major airports. Welcoming committees cheered them wildly. What a great improvement on the sullen indifference that greeted too many of our returning Vietnam vets. One of my pool pals—guys I swim with every morning—was one of those Vietnam vets who came home to no welcome. Today, he joins the welcomers in applauding our magnificent troops. God bless you, Bob Hogan!

Even worse than that “annus horribilis” of 1968 was Washington in 1861. A book by Ernest Furgurson, Freedom Rising, describes the scene in the Capital. “Panic seized the people and the previous emigration [from Washington] was child’s play to the present hegira,” wrote a young man of that time of civil war. He was obviously educated before we had a federal education department. Furgurson’s narrative goes on: “Property is valueless, business is dead,” wrote a 19th century observer. “To feed incoming troops, the federal government confiscated all the flour in the mills of Georgetown and aboard schooners about to sail. Residents of Georgetown were awakened by what they feared was cannon fire; it was [instead] 3,000 barrels of flour being rolled out of one of the town’s thirty-three canalside warehouses, to supply ovens being built for the army in the basement of the Capitol. Within fifteen minutes of the confiscation order, the public price of a single barrel of flour more than doubled.”

Check out your local super market: the price of bread has not doubled. Yes, it has been worse, much, much worse.

After Pearl Harbor, there was a real, sinking feeling that the West Coast of the U.S. was defenseless. With the Pacific fleet crippled, what was there to stop the Japanese from seizing Seattle and San Francisco? These fears, we now know, were exaggerated. And they led to the unjustifiable internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans. Nonetheless, they did not seem irrational or unrealistic then.

But because things have been much, much worse than now does not mean that we should relax our strenuous efforts one bit. What is being proposed —- and seriously planned in Washington today —- is a grave threat to our future. The health care takeover is menacing. Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s former labor secretary, and a real bellwether for liberalism, wrote boldly to seniors: “We will let you die.” Sarah Palin was publicly pilloried for saying they would do that. Reich, from Harvard, says it and gets away with it.

Rush Limbaugh was blackballed by the NFL over racist comments he never made. Yet Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg boasts about her lovely office at the Supreme Court. It faces an interior courtyard, where she won’t have to see or hear those raucous protesters out in front. She can don her $3.000 Paris-made judicial robes and never have to answer for her genocidal comments about public funding for abortions. She told the New York Times she thought the Supreme Court missed the whole point of Roe when it upheld the Hyde Amendment that bans federal funding of abortion back in 1980. She always thought, she confessed, that public funding of abortion was necessary to get rid of “populations we don’t want too many of.” No more heinous statement has been made by a Supreme Court justice since Roger B. Taney said “the black man has no rights which the white man is bound to respect.”

Another huge threat is the debt being piled upon our children’s generation and our grandchildren’s. The government announced on Friday that this year’s deficit had climbed to $1,400,000,000,000. President Obama has managed, in just nine months, to exceed the debt run up by all 43 of his predecessors. The media likes to print it as “$1.4 trillion.” Sounds small. There’s a decimal, after all. But it really should be reported as $1.4 TRILLION! George W. Bush is no innocent in this regard. But if he ran up a mountain of debt, Barack Obama has answered with a Mountain Range of debt. It’s Pike Peak versus the Rockies.

Can we survive? Can we come back? Yes. During that horrible year of 1968, many of us college students were pretty down. Our wonderful diplomatic history prof at University of Virginia—Norman A. Graebner—had not given up on this country. He concluded his final lecture of the year by urging us to understand the incredible unused resources of these United States. The U.S. was like the boxer, Joe Louis, he said. The Brown Bomber always had “power to spare.”

The man we called “Graebner the Great” was right. America does have power to spare. That power stems ultimately from the American people’s reliance on God. In God we Trust. As long as that is so, I say power to the people.

Interview with Leslie Carbone

by Krystle Gabele

October 6, 2009

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit. While at this event, I had the opportunity to meet with Leslie Carbone, who used to serve as the Director of Tax Policy at FRC. Leslie just published a book, Slaying Leviathan: The Moral Case For Tax Reform, and it is a great examination of tax policy from a moral perspective. Below is the interview:

KW: Could you tell me why you decided to write Slaying Leviathan?

LC:

I wrote my book to help people understand why progressive taxation, and the wealth redistribution that it supports, are morally, as well as economically, hazardous.

KW: What do you think is the number one problem with the current tax code?

LC:

There are so many problems with the tax code, and they all feed on each other so much, that I find it impossible to pinpoint one primary problem, one single bullet. I think that what’s wrong with progressive income taxation can be summed up in three, overlapping, problems: It’s unwise, unjust, and immoral. It’s unwise because it actually diminishes prosperity, rather than enhancing it. It’s unjust because it perverts the function of the government it supports; as our Declaration of Independence asserts, civil government is established to secure our rights, but progressive taxation, and redistributionary spending, actually violate our rights. Finally, it’s immoral: It’s immoral because it discourages the virtuous behavior that creates wealth while it sanctions vices like resentment, because it diminishes economic—and thus moral—freedom, because it fosters immoral social behavior (such as cohabitation and divorce) and their attendant social pathologies, and because it inserts the government into the family’s or the individual’s moral decision-making process, giving the government a moral power it shouldn’t have.

KW: In the book, you mentioned that there is a moral reason for tax reform. Since there seems to be zero transparency at the government level about where our taxes directly go, do you think that this lays out the case for full transparency by the government?

LC:

I’m all in favor of government transparency, and part of the problem with our leviathan state is that it’s so big, and spends so much money, that nobody can keep track of it all. So I’d say that restoring the federal government to its proper, limited functions, as enumerated in Article I, Section 8, of our Constitution (that ingenious document) and reducing taxes to what’s necessary to pay for those functions would go a long way toward making it easier for us to fulfill our duty as citizens of a republic to watch what our government is doing.

KW: Would you favor a flat tax or the fair tax?

LC:

Either would be an enormous improvement over the byzantine mess we have now, and I’m looking forward to the day when we have a robust public debate about which kind of fundamental tax reform we want. My book lays out and analyzes the various options for tax reform, but it doesn’t take a firm position in favor of any particular plan. I did that on purpose. My book is intended to help make the case for fundamental tax reform, and to inform a coming debate over what that reform should look like. We’ve seen recently, with the bank bail-out and the “stimulus” package (to pick just a couple of examples) what happens when we rush a “solution” through without adequate public debate. So rather than say, “Here’s the problem, and here’s the solution,” I’m trying in my book to say, “Here’s the problem; let’s talk about and make sure we fully understand it, and next let’s talk about how we want to come together as Americans to solve it.”

KW: Do you feel the tax code punishes families and if so, could you elaborate on the ways our current government can fix this?

LC:

Sure, there are the specifics, like the marriage penalty, which actually punish some people for getting and staying married. But, to pick just a couple of examples, our current tax code hurts families by suppressing prosperity, making it harder to support a family, and by steering families into government-sanctioned choices (e.g. home ownership through borrowing, via the mortgage deduction) rather than leaving them properly free to decide on their own financial priorities. We really need fundamental tax reform to address these problems; piecemeal fixes just don’t work.

KW: I read another tax reform book two months ago by two experts at Cato Institute entitled, Global Tax Revolution, and the authors recommended abolishing the corporate and income taxes. Do you think that this will keep more businesses in the United States?

LC:

Absolutely, taxes discourage whatever is taxed; that includes maintaining a business.

KW: Lastly, there seems to be more corruption in Congress, and recently, Congress has voted for pay increases, giving the Architect of the Capitol a pay raise, and providing more money to fix the House buildings. Do you feel that there needs to be more reform within our government to help make them more accountable to the taxpayer?

LC:

Our Founders understood the corrupting tendency of power, and we as citizens of the republic they created must try to understand it too. I fear that it’s a little naive to expect government to reform itself. We are responsible for our government; we’re they’re boss, and we need to hold them accountable to us. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Economy: Not So Good

by Chris Gacek

October 2, 2009

Todays economic news was not good. This from Reuters via Yahoo! Finance:

U.S. employers cut a deeper-than-expected 263,000 jobs in September, lifting the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent, according to a government report on Friday that fueled fears the weak labor market could undermine economic recovery.

The consensus was for a loss of 180,000 jobs. Furthermore, highly respected banking analyst, Meredith Whitney, wrote in yesterdays Wall Street Journal that credit available for small business, the job creator in the American economy is non-existent:

Anyone counting on a meaningful economic recovery will be greatly disappointed. How do I know? I follow credit, and credit is contracting. Access to credit is being denied at an accelerating pace. Large, well-capitalized companies have no problem finding credit. Small businesses, on the other hand, have never had a harder time getting a loan.

This is not a good sign for getting people back to work. This credit contraction in conjunction with the make-believe economy of zero percent interest rates, money printing, and too-big-too fail has to undermine ones confidence in any data about current economic relationships. That, in turn, will make a recovery far more difficult due to the increased level of risk and uncertainty. Its going to take a long time for things to work themselves out I am afraid.

Spending A Moral Issue

by Tony Perkins

July 22, 2009

A good man leaves an inheritance to his childrens children. That bit of insight is from the wisest man who ever lived Solomon, the author if the Book of Proverbs.

Notice that Solomon is not calling for us to just hold back of little of our savings to leave something for your kids, but rather that it is prudent foresight that leads to investment in future generations.

Such advice would be considered radical in America today, especially in Washington where the nations debt is currently $11.5 trillion, with another trillion projected to be added this year. In fact, for every dollar that the federal government is currently spending, 47 cents is borrowed. When federal, state and local government debt is combined the average familys burden of that debt is almost one million dollars.

As a nation, weve not only lost the biblical ideal that one generation should pave the way for the next by investing in its future, but we have decided by our fiscal irresponsibility to live on Easy Street and let our grand kids and great-grand kids pay the mortgage.

Thats not right, and its got to change. To learn more about how federal tax policy affects your family, click here.

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