Treasury Secretary Turbo Tax Tim Geithner, who is reportedly thinking about leaving the administration (and I say good riddance), is also, apparently, a constitutional scholar as well as a tax cheat.
While speaking with Mike Allen of POLITICO, Gethner held that the debt ceiling was likely unconstitutional:
"I think there are some people who are pretending not to understand it, who think there’s leverage for them in threatening a default," Geithner said. "I don’t understand it as a negotiating position. I mean really think about it, you’re going to say that– can I read you the 14th amendment?"
He then read it out loud:
"’The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for the payments of pension and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion’ — this is the important thing — ‘shall not be questioned.
"So as a negotiating strategy you say: ‘If you don’t do things my way, I’m going to force the United States to default–not pay the legacy of bills accumulated by my predecessors in Congress.’ It’s not a credible negotiating strategy, and it’s not going to happen," Geithner insisted.
Wait. Hold on. Is Geithner saying that the Constitution, via the 14th Amendment, essentially gives Congress unlimited spending power that can’t be questioned? Because that’s what it seems he’s saying.
Secondly, there are ways to pay “debts”, “pensions”, etc. without breaking the debt ceiling – cut spending in other areas.
Finally, depending on the interpretation, a debt ceiling could indeed be an authorized law which limits what can be incurred as public debt – and shouldn’t be questioned. I doubt the founders had any intent to allow Congress to authorize unlimited and unquestioned spending. Anyone who can find that sort of an intent stated anywhere by the will truly be informing me of something I didn’t know.
Always good to know you have a Treasury Secretary who sees unlimited spending as a feature, not a bug, and wants it clearly understood that the “important thing” is it shouldn’t be questioned.
Don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass on the way out, Tim.
The Republican controlled House kept its promise and repealed ObamaCare with a large majority. As I’ve said in the past, symbolic or not, these types of votes must be made. Republicans must raise the issue in the House, vote on it and make the Democratic controlled Senate kill it or, if it happens to somehow slip through the Senate, make Obama veto it. Again, it’s about the record – and for once in his life, Obama is actually going to have to run on one in 2012.
That said, it was incredible to listen to Democrats attempt to justify Obamacare yesterday. They are our lawmakers. Yet it became apparent yesterday, at least listening to a few of them, that they simply don’t know their business or what they’re talking about.
Take Shelia Jackson Lee for instance:
"Frankly, I would just say to you, this is about saving lives. Jobs are very important; we created jobs," Jackson Lee said. "But even the title of their legislation, H.R. 2, ‘job-killing’ — this is killing Americans if we take this away, if we repeal this bill."
So, Republicans are "killing Americans" with repeal. There’s that civil discourse right when it is necessary, no?
But that wasn’t the worst of her mutterings:
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, said on Tuesday afternoon that repealing the national health care law would violate the Constitution.
Arguing that the Commerce Clause provides the constitutional basis for ObamaCare, Jackson Lee said repealing the law by passing Republicans’ H.R. 2 violates both the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process and the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.
Say what? Frankly, anyone with a elementary school civics class under their belt could see thorough this convoluted and daft bit of nonsense. The ignorance in that “argument” (not to mention the logic) is appalling. But it seemed to be a sort of desperation talking point that some Democrats adopted as their “defense” of the law. John Lewis also invoked the 14th Amendment as a reason for keeping ObamaCare – oh, and the Declaration of Independence thinking he was quoting the preamble to the Constitution:
“Well, when you start off with the Preamble of the Constitution, you talk about the pursuit of happiness," said Lewis. "You go to the 14th Amendment–it’s equal protection under the law and we have not repealed the 14th Amendment. People have a right to have health care. It’s not a privilege but a right."
Of course it’s not the Preamble to the Constitution that talks about the “pursuit of happiness” at all, it’s the Declaration of Independence. You’d think a lawmaker would know that. But then you’d also think he’d know what constitutes a “right” and what doesn’t wouldn’t you? Obviously though, that’s hoping for too much.
Some Democrats insisted on civil discourse to broadcast their unhappiness with the Republican effort to repeal ObamaCare. Like Rep. Steve Cohen:
“They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels," Cohen said. "You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That’s the same kind of thing. “
“The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it–believed it and you have the Holocaust. We heard on this floor, government takeover of health care. Politifact said the biggest lie of 2010 was a government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover,"
Yup … Democrats can jam something through that the American people were clear they didn’t want using every Parliamentary trick in the book, but when the GOP steps up to repeal it, they’re Nazis. Nice Steve – really nice. You sound like Alan Grayson.
Speaking of Alan Grayson, he’s still puking up nonsense. Apparently he didn’t get the memo that the “blame Sarah Palin for Tucson” narrative is a big FAIL. You remember Mr. Civil Discourse, don’t you? The guy who said “"If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly?" Yeah, him:
"As I observed on MSNBC last week, there has been a stream of violence and threats of violence by the right wing against Democrats," Grayson wrote in the email. "Gabby warned against it, and then became a terrible victim of it. Palin has instigated it, and then tried to pretend that it doesn’t exist,” he wrote."
And as most of us observed while you were in Congress, to include the voters in your former district, you’re a loon, Mr. Grayson. However he’s a loon who somehow found his way to Congress for a while. Says something about our low standards, doesn’t it? And it also points to how seriously Democrats are about embracing “civil discourse”, wouldn’t you say?
One of the running battles concerning the 2nd Amendment is whether or not it is an individual right or a collective right – i.e. one for the state to limit/restrict. I think a fair reading of the amendment and the history of the era and those who penned the Bill of Rights clearly puts it (as with most of the other amendments dealing with our freedoms) in the “individual rights” category.
The Washington State Supreme Court weighed in on the question and while I recognize the fact that this is only valid in that state, it is a precedent that moves the argument a little further along – and not in a way the collective rights crew is going to like.
It occurred in a ruling about a recent case involving a 17 year old in possession of a hand-gun who was arrested by police for having it.
The trial court found Sieyes guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm under RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(iii),1 which limits circumstances in which children under age 18 can lawfully possess firearms. We must decide whether the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to the states and, if so, determine whether RCW
“A person, whether an adult or juvenile, is guilty of the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree, if the person does not qualify under subsection (1) of this section for the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree and the person owns, has in his or her possession, or has in his or her control any firearm: . . . [i]f the person is under eighteen years of age, except as provided in RCW 9.41.042.” RCW 9.41.042 enumerates nine exceptions which allow children under age 18 to possess firearms.
What the police contend, of course, is these circumstances didn’t involve one of the 9 exceptions. Washington state had claimed it had the legislative right to restrict who may or may not possess a firearm.
The court disagreed:
41.040(2)(a)(iii) unconstitutionally infringes on the right to bear arms protected by either the United States or Washington Constitutions. We hold the Second Amendment applies to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause; however, Sieyes fails to demonstrate on this record that RCW 9.41.040(2)(a)(iii) infringes on his right to bear arms under either constitution.
The courts justification is quite interesting and I encourage you to read it. Essentially they cite the Heller case and note that the Supreme Court “unquestionably recognized an individual right to bear arms and, in the process, rejected a collective right conditioned militia service.” What the SCOTUS didn’t do is determine whether or not that amendment applies to the states via the 14th Amendment and “incorporation”.
Incorporation is “[t]he process of applying the provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states by interpreting the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause as encompassing those provisions.” Black’s Law Dictionary 834 (9th ed. 2009). The Fourteenth Amendment bars “any state [from] depriv[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. Under the original constitutional architecture the federal Bill of Rights protected only enumerated rights from federal interference.
The 14th Amendment changed that “original constitutional architecture” and establshed that those constitutional rights “incorporated” under the 14th applied to the states as well.
What the Washington State Supreme Court found is that it does as indicated by the highlighted line cited above and in their conclusion:
The Second Amendment right to bear arms applies to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
An interesting win for those who believe the right to be an individual right. 5 of the 6 justices on the Washington State Supreme Court concurred with the ruling. The dissenting justice essentially dissented because the court didn’t go far enough in its protection of the right. I would guess this will eventually wend its way toward SCOTUS which, as this ruling notes, explicitly avoided this question in Heller.