Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What is the U.S. Congress empowered to do?

Lately I have been thinking a great deal about the powers "We the People" have extended to our government representatives. In particular, I have been thinking about the U.S. Congress because I can't believe that our representatives are actually empowered to do half of the things they have been doing for decades. In short, these thoughts lead me to review "The" document that describes the powers. I have a printed copy of the U.S. Constitution but for those of you who would rather find it online there are many places. If it's been a while then you should review Article I sections 8 and 9. Here's a full text option. I think you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was at the simplicity of the document. It's refreshing when compared to the bumbling, fumbling, confusing and complex H.R. 3962 document. Section 8 describes the "Powers of Congress" and the first power identified is:

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;"

I think those responsible for framing the Constitution were men who put first things first and in many ways their actions in helping to birth our Nation demonstrates this principle. I also believe they were men who choose words very carefully because they lived in a time when what you said actually meant something. I wish that were still true for our elected officials today. Because I believe these things, I didn't find it surprising that our Founding Fathers decided to address taxation first and to do so with concise language. Since it's the first power enumerated I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Congress spends so much time devising taxes for us to pay, yet I am always surprised. What do you suppose the framers meant by "shall be uniform throughout the United States"? Do you think they intended to have everyone pay the same taxes? Can you imagine how messed up things would be if they could tax us all at different rates? Oh, wait, isn't that actually what's happening?

Guess what power was addressed second?

"To borrow money on the credit of the United States;"

They've been a bit focused on number two lately. I was surprised to see it listed second but upon further reflection I think it is simply there to show that it's an important power and should not be taken lightly. Oh wait, maybe that's messed up too?

I'm going to continue to read these enumerated powers. I'd encourage you to do the same.

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