Skip to comments.What Would the Founders Think of Defunding Obamacare?
Posted on 09/24/2013 2:14:49 PM PDT by Jim Robinson
A few days ago CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, speaking about the Republican House bill defunding Obamacare, commented, Certainly not the way the Founding Fathers maybe drew this thing up. Its certainly a surprise to hear an anchor on CNN, an organization biased in favor of progressives, appealing to the authority of the Constitution. For a century the progressives have been telling us that the Constitution is an outmoded document from a different age, and needs to be modernized to meet the challenges of a new world.
Listen to Woodrow Wilson in his 1913 book The New Freedom. I am . . . forced to be a progressive, if for no other reason, because we have not kept up with our changes of conditions, either in the economic or the political field. A bit later he is more specific about the political field, arguing against the Constitutions central mechanism of checks and balances. The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life . . . Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice. Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop . . . All that progressives ask or desire is permission . . . to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle.
This view of the Constitution has been consistent among progressives, and explains much of Barack Obamas behavior as President. And it directly contradicts the philosophical assumptions behind the Constitution, which are that the defects of human nature, the peoples passions and interests, as James Madison said, are as constant over space and time as the laws of gravity or motion. Since they can never be eliminated, they can only be balanced and checked by other passions and interests through the institutional structures of the Constitution.
If we probe Baldwins appeal to constitutional authority to buttress her attack on the House bill, then, we can see that she knows little or nothing about why the Founders drew this thing up the way they did. The key issue is Article 1.7.1.: 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. We need to understand the reasons why the Framers gave the House this responsibility.
To do that, we have to remember that the Constitution is in many ways an antidemocratic document. For many Framers, the example of ancient Athenian democracy and its excesses, and the disorder caused by the overly democratic state governments in the decade between the Revolution and the Constitutional Convention, made them wary of giving too much direct power to the volatile, uninformed masses. This fear is explicit in the convention debates. Typical are the comments of Virginia governor Edmund Randolph: Our chief danger arises from the democratic parts of our [state] constitutions. It is a maxim which I hold incontrovertible, that the power of government exercised by the people swallows up the other branches. None of the [state] constitutions have provided sufficient checks against the democracy. The Framers solution would be the mixed government in which the branch directly elected by the people, the House of Representatives, would be balanced and checked by the Senate, indirectly elected through the state legislatures; the President, indirectly elected through the Electoral College chosen by the states; and the federal judiciary, appointed by the President with the Senates approval.
Many of the delegates, however, feared the greater powers of the other branches, and their lack of direct accountability to the people. In compensation, they proposed among other powers that money bills should originate in the House, which as Elbridge Gerry said, was more immediately the representatives of the people, and it was a maxim that the people ought to hold the purse-strings. The House Representatives, as James Madison would say later, were chosen by the people, and supposed to be best acquainted with their interests, and ability. This idea, moreover, was not just compensation for the democracy deficit in the rest of the Constitution. Giving the House the power of the purse would act as a check on the more powerful Senate. George Mason, arguing against the idea that the Senate should originate money bills, said, Should the [Senate] have the power of giving away the peoples money, they might soon forget the Source from whence they received it. We might soon have an aristocracy. Benjamin Franklin agreed: It was always of importance that the people should know who had disposed of their money, and how it was disposed of.
We should remember that the Founders distrust of human nature extended also to elites that monopolized power, as well as to the masses. Hence elites in the government had to be checked and balanced as much as the masses. Against those continuing to argue for giving the Senate the power of the purse, George Mason countered, An aristocratic body, like the screw in mechanics, working its way by slow degrees, and holding fast whatever it gains, should ever be suspected of an encroaching tendency. The purse strings should never be put into its hands. As a compromise to placate the smaller states, the Senate was given the power to add amendments to the money bills originating in the House.
More important are the comments made in The Federalist essays, as these were public, in contrast to the minutes of the debates, and so were meant to convince the average voter. On the issue of originating money bills, James Madison in 58 argued for that power as being a necessary check on the less democratic branches of the government. The house of representatives can not only refuse, but they alone can propose the supplies requisite for the support of government. They in a word hold the purse, that powerful instrument . . . This power over the purse, may in fact be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure. Clearly, for the Framers the power of the purse was intended to be the peoples constitutional WMD for checking the other branches when they passed laws or instituted policies contrary to the will of the people.
Contrary to Baldwin, then, the House bill to defund Obamacare is consistent with the intent of the Founders. The law is unpopular, with 52% of the people opposing it. Its exceptions and exemptions doled out to political favorites are unjust, its constitutional violations blatant, and its incompetent construction, confused rollout, and unforeseen future costs dangerous for the public fisc and our exploding debt. If ever there was a grievance needing redress, Obamacare is it. Defunding Obamacare may or not be a wise tactic politically for Republicans, but its consistency with the Constitution and the intentions of the Founders is not in question.
The founders would be confused that it was passed and before that it was even an issue.
My guess, revolution.
the founders would have never come up with such a crap law, so the argument is moot.
What would the Founders have thought of Obamacare?
Look for their discussion of the matter in the constitution and/or minutes of the ratification debates. It ain’t there.
Lenin, on the other hand....
The Founders would have told Obama and John Roberts that Congress has no authority to enact this under the Constitution they wrote.
GMTA... they’d think they were in a nightmare. “King George wasn’t a hundredth this bad!”
Well, if they could get over their ire long enough to take a calm (if very bemused) look... they’d say yeah the courts are the weak spot!
Well, Doctor, what have we got?
Benjamin Franklin A Republic, if you can keep it.
The article applies to all unconstitutional expansions of government. The house wields the power to prevent runaway government through it’s constitutional power of the purse. The house and the house alone can refuse to fund obamacare or any other unconstitutional expansionist program and the senate can pound sand.
What Would the Founders Think of Defunding Obamacare?
The founders almost all of them would have organized a NEW revolution.. about 40 years ago..
Maybe 100 years ago..
Our Founders did not like bad law.
Interesting,, ‘changes of conditions’ led Wilson to go
All-IN!! on the nation’s future. Congre$$ appeared quite a vote in the pocket to do so as well.. 1913 was a year that left a mark or two, as they say.
100 years ago..
The 16th and 17th amendments and Federal Reserve Act
The states have always uniquely had the 10th Amendment-protected power to tax and spend for public healthcare purposes, ultimately depending on what the legal voters of a given state want.
The problem is that voters have been electing state lawmakers who don’t know the Constitution, particularly the division of federal and state powers, any better than the voters do. Consequently, state lawmakers did nothing to stop the corrupt federal government from establishing constitutionally indefensible federal Obamacare.
GMTA... theyd think they were in a nightmare. King George wasnt a hundredth this bad!
The Founding Fathers would take us all to the Wood Shed and whip our asses for letting things get this far out of hand.
One of the Senators from Virginia responded to my request that he support defunding Obamacare.
Here is his response.
September 24, 2013
Thank you for contacting me about the health care reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. I support the ACA as an important first step towards putting patients in charge of their own health care decisions and slowing the growth of health care costs. Health care cost increases have bankrupted hundreds of thousands of people and imposed real financial burdens on businesses. I find it intolerable that the wealthiest nation in the world spends more on health care than any other nation yet we receive second-rate results for our money. ACA curbs the worst insurance company practices and increases access to affordable and quality health care to the tens of millions of Americans who are uninsured.
Because of the ACA, millions of children can remain on their family's health insurance until they are 26 years old and insurance companies are prohibited from denying care to those with pre-existing conditions. Seniors can receive free preventive care that will help reduce the cost and incidence of chronic diseases and purchase more affordable prescription drugs. Forty-seven million American women now have access to preventive health services. Small businesses are eligible for tax credits to help defray the costs of purchasing insurance for their employees. And insurance companies are required to rebate excess premiums to their customers. These measures represent just some of the positive effects of ACA.
I oppose repealing the ACA and the benefits described above. I acknowledge we have more to do to lower health care costs while improving the quality of care. Other nations have shown it can be done through promoting preventive care, effectively using technology, paying our health care providers by patient outcomes, and finding ways to reduce defensive medicine and lower malpractice premiums without taking rights away from patients.
Controlling the cost of health care is essential to reducing the deficit and our national debt. I am ready to work with anyone interested in finding smart savings in health care, especially in Medicare. Inaction is not a solution to our problems. There are many good ideas for improving our health care system and through common ground and compromise, we can find credible solutions.
I will continue to work on improving ACA and reducing the cost of health care for Americans. For more information about ACA, including how it will affect you, details about every feature of the law, and to read the text of the law itself, please visit www.healthcare.gov.
Thank you again for contacting me.
Well if you are going to imagine imaginary capabilities surely you could come up with something better than this.
I believe they’d wonder where the gospel went and that’s not something they have any authority about now, being dead, except as they may have written about it and the writings remain. (G. Washington was fairly good about this, but he called it “our religion” which already takes it down a step from the word of God to the word of man.)