Friday, May 25, 2012

Harry Reid Wipes His Butt With The Constitution

It's just a meaningless piece of paper after all.
It’s one of the clearest, easiest-to-understand provisions in the Constitution. And Harry Reid’s Senate flouts it routinely.

The Origination Clause in Article I, Section 7 states: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” In addition to clarity, this provision has an even greater virtue: It serves a very good purpose.

The Founding Fathers required revenue measures to originate in the House because they wanted this authority to belong to the legislative body closest to the people. Plus, the Framers wanted the larger states to enjoy the most influence on matters of taxing and spending, which is the case in the House (whose seats are allocated according to population) but not the Senate (where each state gets two seats regardless of population and smaller states have outsized influence). “This power over the purse,” James Madison explained in Federalist No. 58, “may, in fact be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has taken to thumbing his nose at this clear mandate. Recently, he publicly dismissed the Origination Clause as a “hyper-technical budget issue,” raised by his Republican opponents as “a fig leaf to hide their blatant obstruction.” The matter arose as Reid orchestrated a high-profile Senate floor debate on the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012, prior to House consideration of this or any other revenue bill. Also known as the “Buffett Rule,” the Senate measure would impose a hefty new tax on millionaires.

Aware that the Republican House would no more propose new, economically debilitating taxes than Warren Buffett would voluntarily follow the rule that bears his name, Reid opted to move unilaterally. Why let a little thing like the Constitution stand in the way of making sure a red-meat, eat-the-rich proposal like this gets maximum media exposure during an election year?


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