Friday, January 13, 2012

Constitutional Confusion

Today I saw an interview with the Daughter of Lee Atwater  (Chairman of Republican Party in late 80s)  who is backing Newt Gingrich. She gives all credit for the 'balanced budget' during the Clinton years to Newt Gingrich. She gives all blame for the unbalances budget and debt created by the during the bush and Obama years on President Obama. The interviewer could not shake her from the strange dicotomy of her claims.

As I suspected one of her claims does not conform to the powers specified in the US Constitution. Here, from Article One, Section 8 is the assignment of responsibility for budget and debt issues directly on the Congress.

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties,Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;"

To attribute the current unbalanced budget and debt to the current President does not conform to the constitutional powers assinged to that office. It is also clear that the Congress is not required to produce a balanced budget, yet is not prohibited from doing so. The current poor opinion of the Congress by citizens seems quite justified due to it failure to perform its duties.

Looking at the 90s we should likewise conclude that the balanced budgets and debit reduction during the Clinton Administration was largely due to Congres adopting a budget that produced more revenue (taxes) than expense. The problem I have with her position is the attributing of this accomplishment fully to the credit of Newt. Unlike the current Congress, the Congresses of the 90s proceeded in a much more bipartisan fashion to address the nation's problems and needs. Newt was a member of some of these Congresses and for time was an important leader. He can share in the credit but must share it with many others of all parties.

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