McCarthy – Funding Government Constitutionally 101

Editor’s Note – In the Constitution, the power of the purse is the purview of the House of Representatives. Why? Because this is the people’s house, where the purse is controlled by the people, not a reigning monarch at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. nor a despot who has taken over the Senate as a one man wrecking crew.

As usual, Andy McCarthy tells us how it is supposed to work and how the House must act. Remember, the House passed a CR that fully funds the entire government at ‘Sequester’ levels, just no Obama Care funds. If the President continues to negotiate by saying he will not negotiate – then he is solely responsible if the government must shut down – we hope it does! But Harry Reid ADDED funds back into the CR – totally illegal as we see in McCarthy’s clarity of thought on what is constitutional in regard to spending:THE PEOPLE'S BUDGET(1)

“All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.”…

The Senate can tinker within the spending limits set by the House, but it must live within those limits. The continuing resolution to fund the government, which is the legislation at issue in the current controversy, is no exception. The Senate is not permitted to originate spending, as Majority Leader Harry Reid did on Friday, with the indulgence of Senate Republicans — who voted against his appropriation of Obamacare funds but did not challenge the validity of it.

In addition, always remember, Congress cannot bind the hands of a future Congress – therefore, Obama Care, labeled as a “mandatory liability” is no such thing, and not funding it is the will of the people! Mr. Obama and team use a lot of rhetoric about the people, but the castigate them none-the-less by disparaging those the people elected.

How to Constitutionally Fund the Government 

It’s the House’s prerogative to supply funds, or not, for Obamacare. 

By Andrew C. McCarthy – National Review Online

Republican leaders are right: There was a flaw in Ted Cruz’s plan to defund Obamacare: He took Republican leaders seriously.

Senator Cruz, along with Senator Mike Lee and House conservatives, devised a strategy to forestall the unpopular socialized-medicine scheme that Democrats unilaterally rammed through Congress in 2010. They would starve it of funds, not unlike the way Democrats and Republicans have slashed funds for fence construction along the Mexican border, even though the fence has been the law of the land for seven years. The Obamacare defunding strategy, though, depended on Republican fidelity to a ballyhooed campaign promise to reform Washington’s wayward legislative process by reimposing constitutional order — an order that gives the House of Representatives primacy over the spending of taxpayer dollars.

In the stretch run of what became the historic 2010 midterm elections, the Republican establishment issued its “Pledge to America.” If you flip past the many pin-up glossies of John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy, you occasionally find some text in the Pledge. Text such as this: “We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored.”

Members of the Republican House leadership, from left to right, Michigan Rep. Candice Miller, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam, Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader John Boehner, introduce the party's new "America Speaking Out" campaign at the Newseum May 25, 2010, in Washington. / GETTY IMAGES
Members of the Republican House leadership, from left to right, Michigan Rep. Candice Miller, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam, Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader John Boehner, introduce the party’s new “America Speaking Out” campaign at the Newseum May 25, 2010, in Washington. / GETTY IMAGES

Constitutional devotion was fashionable in 2010 — more fashion than substance, some of us suspected at the time. The GOP had been cast into the cold by angry voters in 2006 and 2008. The party had controlled the White House and both congressional chambers through most of the first six Bush years. As self-styled “compassionate conservatives,” Republicans bloated government, nearly doubling the debt the nation had previously taken over two centuries to accumulate. Fed up, conservatives stayed home in droves. The result was the Pelosi/Reid Congress and, later, the Obama administration.

There ensued a nightmare of full-throttle statism, exemplified above all by Obamacare. That, and not anything the Republicans themselves did, is what opened the door to a GOP comeback. The dynamic force in American politics was the Tea Party. Not an actual political party, the Tea Party is a grass-roots reform movement that calls for a return to limited central government on the original constitutional model — a model that promotes liberty by sharply restricting federal authority, and thus federal spending.

So out went the “compassion” garb, replaced by the GOP’s claim to be the “constitutional conservatives” that the Tea Party craved, the antidote to Obama. Republicans did not just expressly pledge to honor the Constitution as originally understood by the Framers. They promised: “We will require each bill moving through Congress to include a clause citing the specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified.”

As Cruz and Lee are learning, it turns out they were kidding.

A little over a week ago, with the October 1 implementation of Obamacare looming, the House voted not to fund the massive and massively unprepared program. This House bill has been scorned by the GOP establishment and its sympathetic scribes. Echoing Beltway oracle Charles Krauthammer, they tut-tut that Republicans only control “one half of one third of the government”; therefore, the refrain goes, they cannot reasonably expect to impose their policy preferences on an electorate that has placed the White House and Senate under Democratic control.

Yet the Constitution that Republicans claim to venerate does not assign power in proportion to the quantum of governmental departments or congressional seats won in elections. All or part of each enumerated power is assigned to specified components of government by subject matter. And significantly, at least if we are truly honoring the Constitution as originally designed, the Framers did not assign authority arbitrarily. Rather, supremacy over a given power was assigned to the component of government best suited to control its exercise in a free republic.

To take a few examples, decisions about military tactics are reserved to the president — regardless of whether Congress is overwhelmingly in the hands of the opposing party. Consent to the president’s appointment of high public officials is reserved to the Senate alone — it makes no difference whether the House or the presidency is controlled by the opposing party. Legal decisions are the province of the judiciary, and can be dictated by five Democratic justices — even if the rest of the Supreme Court and the rest of the government are solidly Republican.

And spending is the prerogative of the House. Not the Congress, the House.

The Constitution expressly provides (in Article I, Section 7): “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” This Origination Clause applies to all spending legislation. As the clause elaborates, when the subject at issue involves spending public money, the Senate “may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills”; but it may not instigate spending. The Senate can tinker within the spending limits set by the House, but it must live within those limits. The continuing resolution to fund the government, which is the legislation at issue in the current controversy, is no exception. The Senate is not permitted to originate spending, as Majority Leader Harry Reid did on Friday, with the indulgence of Senate Republicans — who voted against his appropriation of Obamacare funds but did not challenge the validity of it.

The Republican establishment keeps flashing those “one half of one third” tablets Dr. Krauthammer carried down from Mount Sinai. But Republicans fulfilling a pledge to honor the Framers’ Constitution would do better to take their cues from James Madison. “The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of the government,” he explained in Federalist No. 58 (emphasis added).

Federalist Papers_0One could contend, as “organic Constitution” devotees do, that it makes no difference which congressional chamber initiates spending as long as both must vote to approve it. But besides improperly nullifying an explicit constitutional command, this contention ignores the Framers’ rationale. Putting the House in charge of spending was not an idle choice.

As Madison elaborated, the purpose of the Origination Clause is to put the “power of the purse” firmly in the hands of “the immediate representatives of the people.” Government has no resources of its own; it has only what it confiscates from the citizenry. In a free republic, liberty hinges on the ability of citizens to constrain the demands government can make. The Framers prudently concluded that the best means of constraint was to give the definitive word on taxing and spending to the House: The only legislators directly elected by the people at the time the Constitution was adopted (senators were chosen by their state legislatures until 1913); and, to this day, the only representatives who must face the voters every two years.

As noted above, the legislation at issue in the present controversy is not Obamacare specifically. It is a continuing resolution for funding the entire government. Under the Constitution, any funding in the continuing resolution must not only be approved by the House, it must originate in the House.

The House has declined to provide funding for Obamacare. Critics of Senator Cruz — and some of the most vicious imprecations come from his fellow Republicans — mock the defunding strategy as a divisive delusion. Cruz, they say, well knew that once the House defunding measure got to the Senate, Democrats would simply exploit their majority to provide the Obamacare mega-billions. That, indeed, explains the seeming anomaly that Cruz encouraged the House to pass defunding but tried to block the Senate from voting on it. Under Senate procedure, it is when debate ends and voting is about to commence that amendments are allowed, enabling Senator Reid to tack on the funding restoration.

In a properly functioning constitutional process, however, Reid’s maneuver would have failed. Not only Republicans but senators of both parties, in fidelity to the Constitution, would concede that, while the Senate may ask the House to fund Obamacare as part of the continuing resolution, it is the House’s call.

Positing one of the theories that have the country careening toward economic suicide, old Washington hands counter that the House may not cut off Obamacare funding because it is “mandatory” spending. That is, they argue that under decades-old federal budget legislation — somehow invoked without embarrassment by elected officials who go years without honoring the legislation’s mandate to pass a budget — Congress has no discretion to withhold entitlement spending (such as Social Security, Medicare, and now Obamacare). The spending, they say, is required by the authorizing legislation itself; it does not require any separate appropriation and can be reversed only by a separate, repealing act of Congress — passed by both houses and signed by the president. In essence, they claim that by passing Obamacare three years ago, the House has already originated the funding in today’s continuing resolution.

This contention fails for several reasons. To begin with, it should be obvious enough that the so-called “Affordable” Care Act that authorized Obamacare is not self-executing. Washington can call it “mandatory,” but if new spending approval were unnecessary, we would not be at a stalemate now. As the Heritage Foundation points out, supposedly mandatory spending is routinely withheld in the appropriations process, and key elements of Obamacare (such as the insurance exchanges, as Hans von Spakovsky explains) are not even deemed mandatory. More to the point, as I have argued and as Heritage documentsPresident Obama himself has defunded purportedly “mandatory” elements of Obamacare — in the absence of any legislative authority whatsoever. In the Beltway’s upside-down world, the House of Representatives is apparently the only part of government prohibited from cutting spending.

There are, moreover, higher principles involved here — particularly if Republicans are in favor of restoring constitutional order, as they proclaim. There is nothing in the Constitution about “mandatory” spending — a progressive contrivance to insulate the welfare state from adult decisions about living within one’s means. As argued here before, social-welfare policy is a matter for the states. Its management is among what Madison described as “the powers reserved to the several States [that] extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” Health-care regulation is plainly not among the “external objects,” such as foreign relations and national defense, that the federal government was created to manage. Furthermore, federal entitlement programs are rationalized by a contorted construction of the Constitution’s General Welfare Clause — one the Framers would not have recognized.

Nevertheless, in the current controversy, conservatives are not calling for the dismantling of the welfare state or even the repeal of Obamacare. Everyone recognizes that the latter would require an act of Congress. We are talking about the narrow Republican commitment to restore originalist constitutional principles to the legislative process. The legislation at issue is a continuing resolution for funding the government, not expunging Obamacare. Refusing to include Obamacare in that funding would not remove Obamacare’s statutory validity. It is black-letter law that a prior Congress cannot bind the present Congress, and a statute cannot supersede the Constitution. Prior law’s designation of Obamacare spending as “mandatory” cannot compel the current Congress to fund it as part of continuing-resolution legislation, nor does it alter the Constitution’s command that all spending in that continuing resolution must originate in the House.

Many will say this is a quaint way of looking at things, that in modern practice it is commonplace for the Senate to gut House bills, replace them wholesale with different Senate spending priorities (or even spending provisions helpfully drafted by the executive branch), and then send them back to the House for approval — or hammer differences out in a conference committee. True, but it is precisely because legislative practices and proposals violate the Constitution with notorious regularity that the Republican establishment — back when it was pleading for conservative votes — pledged (oh, let’s quote them again) “to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored.”

The American people do not want Obamacare, and the representatives closest to them have voted not to spend the people’s money on it. According to the Constitution, that should be the end of the matter.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.

'Sequester', Continuing Resolutions, and the Un-Budget

By SUA Staff – All the talk about cuts and ‘sequestration’ is mind-numbing to say the least. If you listen to or read what the White House has issued, you’d be hiding under your bed in a fetal position. If you listen to reason though, after cutting through the political spin and tortured explanations, you see a different picture.

Check the actual budget numbers here. As required by the Budget Control Act of 2011, Obama finally reported on the impact:

These are among the findings in a new 394-page report by the White House that was delivered Friday to Congress, detailing line by line what will happen next year if Washington fails to act to head off about $100 billion in military and domestic spending cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 2. The Obama administration had been reluctant to specify the impact of sequestration, as the automatic, across-the-board spending reduction is called. But once forced to do so by Congress, the White House budget office did not scrimp on the details. (Read more here.)

Always remember one fact – there are no cuts in the baseline budget – its just a reduction in planned increases to the non-existent “Un-Budget.” The cuts they speak of are in the increases now ‘portraying’ an actual budget.

Many followed the “sky is falling” lead and gave us their look at the impact based upon White House and administration assertions, but those of course are a function of leadership or lack thereof. Read the article by Matthew Green at KQED: “The Sequester Explained in Plain English” and you will see how far they reach; try not to laugh too hard.

But, this week, even Obama had to walk back a lot of what was being told but the real impact is on the military but indeed the ‘sequester’ is in place and next is the CR, or continuing resolution:

Across-the-board federal spending cuts began Friday, clearing the way for a series of budget battles that will consume much of Congress’s energy and threaten to eclipse other items on President Barack Obama’s second-term agenda.

Mr. Obama signed an order late Friday directing $85 billion in cuts to domestic and defense programs, after holding a fruitless meeting with congressional leaders who remained at odds over how to avoid the reductions, known as a sequester.

The more immediate concern is the need to keep the government operating after March 27.  Next week, the House is expected to pass a Republican bill to extend funding for many government programs—including defense, education, and veterans’ benefits—at the ‘pre-sequester’ level of $1.043 trillion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the same level as the year before. But it would also carry a provision saying that sequestration would apply. That would bring the cost of the bill below $1 trillion, which is considered key to winning support from House GOP conservatives. (Read more here.)

Of course, a detailed look at the many duplicated programs, other waste, fraud, and corruption would have easily eclipsed the measly 2% the $85 billion ‘sequester’ this year if they were removed. Obama had promised in 2008 that he would do just that, but alas, in over four years, none of that took place. “And, absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.”

The only persons of note who did look were Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) (See his budget here.) and Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) who has been producing his “Waste Book”. Take a look at the 2011 and 2012 reports from his office. Here are a few highlights:

“Waste Book” 2011:

  •  $75,000 to promote awareness about the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees & poinsettias.
  • $15.3 million for one of the infamous Bridges to Nowhere in Alaska.
  • $113,227 for video game preservation center in New York.
  • $550,000 for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • $48,700 for 2nd annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival, to promote Hawaii’s chocolate industry.
  • $350,000 to support an International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy.
  • $10 million for a remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistan.
  • $35 million allocated for political party conventions in 2012.
  • $765,828 to subsidize “pancakes for yuppies” in the nation’s capital.
  • $764,825 to study how college students use mobile devices for social networking.

“Waste Book” 2012:

  • The most unproductive and unpopular Congress in modern history – (Congress) $132 million
  • Professional sports loophole – (Taxes) $91 million
  • OH SNAP! Junk food, luxury drinks, soap operas, and billions of dollars in improper food stamp payments – (Department of Agriculture) $4.5 billion
  • Oklahoma keeps unused airport open to collect federal checks – (OK) $450,000
  • Moroccan pottery classes – (U.S. Agency for International Development) $27 million
  • Out-of-this-world Martian food tasting – (HI) $947,000
  • When robot squirrels attack – (CA) $325,000
  • USDA’s caviar dreams – (ID) $300,000
  • Bailed out tourist boat sinking private business – (AK) $3.3 million
  • Phantom, unused grant accounts draw fees – (Department of Health and Human Services) $2 million
How broken is the Federal Government? Its just insanity and the President does not want it to change – that is the only explanation that adds up. Then there is the stimulus watchdog, VP “Sheriff” Joe Biden – let’s see that accounting as well. Take a look here, or here, its not a pretty picture, and the accounting is still incomplete. So we ask, how is the ‘sequester’ really important other than the now and future diminished military, and what happens next when the CR is upon us in the weeks ahead?

Army Details Where Sequestration Will Hit Hardest

By Michael Hoffman – Military.com

Army leaders got down to the gritty details of how sequestration will affect the service with examples ranging from the reduction of day care hours to delaying weapons programs to asking soldiers to collect trash on post.

On Tuesday, the Army executed a four-hour, service-wide planning exercise to outline the choices service leaders will have to make should Congress fail to avert the $500 billion in budget cuts associated with sequestration, which is slated to start Friday.

The Army stands to lose the most from their budget mainly because it’s the largest service in the military. In 2013, Army budget officials must cut $18 billion from the service’s budget before Oct. 1 should sequestration occur.

The $18 billion cut is not solely due to sequestration. An extension of the continuing resolution that funds the military at 2012 levels will cost the Army $6 billion in 2013. Another $6 billion bill is included in the $18 billion total due to emerging requirements from the war in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Karen Dyson, the director of the Army’s budget office, explained.

No matter the source, Army leaders said Wednesday that the service will have to make drastic cuts across the Army to services, training and operations. The sequestration legislation handcuffs Army officials from protecting certain accounts other than pay, operations in Afghanistan and Korea, and the Wounded Warrior program.

Making matters harder for officials will be the furlough that Defense Department civilians must take as part of the Pentagon’s cost saving measures in dealing with sequestration. Starting in April, civilians will have to take one unpaid furlough day per week until Oct. 1. This will limit the services the Army can provide and make it tougher to make up for the reduction in funds, Dyson said.

Brig. Gen. Curt Rauhut, the director of resource management for Installation Management Command, went as far to say the service will have to ignore holes in roofs and have soldiers collect trash on post. Funding for sustainment, restoration and modernization of the Army’s installations will be reduced by $2 billion, he said.

“All sustainment will be limited to life, health and safety issues and we don’t actually have enough money to fund all life, health and safety issues,” Rauhut said.

Families on base will feel the effects of the cost saving measures. Rauhut offered a few examples.

Army leaders would have to reduce hours for child development centers on post and even consider closing them on certain days, he said. Sequestration would also mean the Army would have to “eliminate or severely reduce youth sports on our installations,” Rahaut said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has explained to Congress for weeks that the sequestration cuts would mean he’d have to curtail training for nearly 80 percent of the service in order to save funds for units training to deploy to Afghanistan or in Korea.

Odierno had previously suggested that units deployed to Afghanistan might see their tours extended because of the lack of training funds. However, with the shrinking force footprint in Afghanistan, the Army should be able to bring currently deployed soldiers home as scheduled, Dyess said Wednesday.

“We have not made a decision on an extension for any units at this time so I think we should stick to our plan and bring those units back because really our footprint is shrinking,” he said.

However, Dyess and Dyson said the ultimate decision when Army units return from Afghanistan is made within theater.

Sequestration will affect when Army equipment in Afghanistan is returned to the U.S. If the budget cuts with sequestration stretch into 2014, the Army will be put in a bind. During the Iraq withdrawal, the Army saw expenses increase by $5 billion in the last quarter before the retrograde was complete, Dyson said.

Army officials expect a steeper challenge in leaving Afghanistan – a land locked country bordered by Iran and Pakistan. Dyson said the Army has already seen the projected cost of leaving Afghanistan sky rocket because the service has had to depend more on air transportation due to the challenge ground convoys have had crossing into Pakistan.

“We have to fly equipment in and out of theater and our second-destination charges for air transportation have been increasing far beyond what we had projected in the budget,” Dyson said.

Maj. Gen. Robert Dyess, the director of Army Force Development, confirmed that the sequestration cuts will likely delay the withdrawal of equipment and personnel from Afghanistan past the 2014 deadline set by President Obama. Gen. Dennis Via, head of Army Materiel Command, said the same thing on Feb. 20 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium.

Army modernization programs also stand to lose funding at a time when the Army is set to revolutionize its battlefield radios and vehicle fleet. Dyess said that rather than cancel programs because of cuts, most will be delayed.

Dyess and Dyson made sure to point out that every weapons program will have its budget slashed by 9 percent. Dyess listed mission command, aviation and Science and Technology as the Army’s three largest accounts that stand to lose the most.

“The [budget] reductions … define a fiscal outlook that is dire and as far as I know is unprecedented for our Army,” Dyson said.