Monday, Sept. 17, marks the 225th anniversary of the signing of the nation’s second great founding document, the Constitution that provides Americans with limited government. … The Constitution was drafted more than 11 years after the Declaration. The United States had won independence but was struggling under the weak Articles of Confederation. The Founding Fathers wanted to draft a document that would provide an effective but carefully limited federal government. Through a series of compromises, they did just that. They designed three branches of government — legislative, executive and judicial — that would check each other. If one tried to usurp too much power, the others would have an interest in bringing it back into line.
Just as competition brings down prices in economics, competition would tend to keep any particular branch of government from acquiring too much power. … The Constitution has held up well for more than two centuries, with only occasional modifications (the 27 amendments) through the years. Of course, people used to be a bit more serious about the idea that the Constitution said what it meant and meant what it said. Any 21st-century celebration of the Constitution should take note that the country is no longer keeping faith with its constitutional principles. Today, most ‘laws’ actually are rules and regulations enacted by bureaucrats in government agencies, not statutes passed by elected lawmakers. Even when Congress does pass legislation, such as the Dodd-Frank financial reform law or Obamacare, lawmakers leave many blanks and expect rule-makers to fill them in. That means the bureaucracy, peopled with federal ‘experts,’ essentially exists as an unelected fourth branch of government. … Our constitutional framework of limited government requires a president who will actively use his granted powers but also recognize the strict limits on those powers. After the Constitution was complete, Benjamin Franklin noted that it made the country ‘a republic, if you can keep it.’ This Constitution Day, let’s honor the framers and respect their work by changing America’s course — and returning to our constitutional roots.
Constitutionally and by precedent, the House of Representatives has the exclusive prerogative to originate bills to appropriate money, as well as to raise revenues. … No matter how Obama’s presidency is viewed, if we buy into the notion that it’s he whose spending binge is crippling our nation through massive debt and deficits, we will naturally focus our attention on the White House. The fact of the matter is that Washington has been on a spending binge no matter who has occupied the White House. In 1970, federal spending was $926 billion. Today it’s $3.8 trillion. In inflation-adjusted dollars that’s about a 300 percent increase. Believing that presidents have taxing and spending powers leaves Congress less politically accountable for our deepening economic quagmire. Of course, if you’re a congressman, not being held accountable is what you want. … Most members of our Republican-controlled House of Representatives say they’re against Obamacare. If they really were, they surely would attach a legislative rider or some other legislative device to the Department of Health and Human Services’ appropriation bill to ban spending any money on Obamacare; they have the power to. But they don’t have the political courage to do so, and their lives are made easier by the pretense that it’s the president controlling the spending. And we fall for it.
- The American Mind – Larry P. Arnn
- The Declaration of Independence – Thomas G. West
- The Problem of Majority Tyranny – David Bobb
- Separation of Powers: Preventing Tyranny – Kevin Portteus
- Separation of Powers: Ensuring Good Government – Will Morrisey
- Religion, Morality, and Property – David Bobb
- Crisis of Constitutional Government – Will Morrisey
- Abraham Lincoln and the Constitution – Kevin Portteus
- The Progressive Rejection of the Founding – Ronald J. Pestritto
- The Recovery of the Constitution – Larry P. Arnn
Knowing what is in the U.S. Constitution and why the Constitution is relevant to us today is fundamental to our being able to defend it. As federal civil servants supporting the Department of Defense, we have a special obligation to understand and appreciate the U.S. Constitution and the role we each play in providing ‘for the common defense’.