My April 6 post contained this passage…
I know I suggested to my small cult of dedicated followers my next post might be on the topic of possible constitutional amendments. Sorry, folks, I overpromised. Such a serious undertaking requires appropriate due diligence, and will take a little more time.
During the holiday break, I was able to make good on this promise via a rollicking late night debate in my local chapter of the vast right wing conspiracy. The debaters were your truly, Francis Charles Hamilton, and Mr. Hamilton’s precocious young nephew, Jack Wiley Dithers. Our chapter met in its’ usual location; Mr. Hamilton’s well-appointed study. The liquid menu consisted mostly of Irish Coffees (it being the winter season), as well as the finest Spanish sherry Mr. Hamilton's Air Force Reserve acquaintance smuggles in by the case on his regular C-130 run.
I am drafting this communiqué on Christmas morning 2010. The recounting is entirely mine. Dithers and Hamilton can write their own, if they wish, when they wake up.
The Repeal Amendment
Early in the evening our august triumvirate of deep thinkers came to a quick and easy consensus on the best idea of the year. As described by this Cato Institute article, the Repeal Amendment proposal restores the Founders’ intended balance of power between the states and the federal government. The proposal, born in our beloved home Commonwealth of Virginia, provides a mechanism for a 2/3 vote of state legislatures to override federal legislation. Obamacare would already be toast if this mechanism existed today.
Dithers: “Nominations for best idea of the year?”
Me: “Easy – Repeal Amendment.”
Hamilton: “ A toast – Sic Semper Tyrannis!”
All: “Sic Semper Tyrannis!”
Hamilton: Fig, didn’t you say on that bloggie thingee of yours you’d discuss constitutional amendments?”
Me: “Yeah, never did though – too much thinking involved. It’s much easier to snap and link to other people’s graphics”
Dithers: “Pass the Sherry”
Hamilton: “Are you going to soil the Irish Coffee with Sherry again?”
Dithers: “Too bad – I like it.”
Hamilton: “Sigh….let’s do Fig’s Constitutional Convention, shall we?”
Me: “Hear! Hear! A toast!”
All: “Hear! Hear!”
Balanced Budget / Revenue Amendment
Our little chapter is in the pro-growth camp of the conspiracy. A lower tax burden, lower regulatory burden, and much less government spending is the path to prosperity. Mr. Hamilton often corresponds with Lawrence Kudlow on these topics. I’ve seen the draft letters on Mr. Hamilton’s victorian desk, written in his cursive hand, as well as the sealed addressed letters bound for snail mail. I’ve never seen any evidence of Mr. Kudlow replying, though.
An Amendment to force Congress to balance the budget comes up often in right wing circles. Hamilton, Dithers, and I long ago came to the conclusion this medicine is worse than the the illness. Deficit spending per se is not the problem – deficit spending played a big part in winning World War II. Pro-growth policies closed those deficits and gave the country the prosperous decade of the 1950’s on its heels.
And, worst of all, the Left’s solution to a balanced budget would always and ever be raising more and more revenue to match out-of-control spending. We saw this preference in their rhetoric during the lame duck debate over extending Bush tax rates. Their way would, of course, be a disaster for the American economy and the great experiment in American Exceptionalism. Giving the Left a balanced budget amendment would be the equivalent of turning a pyromaniac loose with a burning torch in a field full of straw men. It would be an utter disaster for the republic.
A slightly better idea would be capping the annual federal budget at a specified percentage of measured GDP. Our chapter remains open to this this approach, depending on the details, but we remain leary of what we have dubbed the “World War II Deficit Conundrum.”
Hamilton: “Fig, has anybody on that bloggee thingee been fool enough to propose a balanced budget amendment?”
Me: “I don’t think so. One commenter did have an interesting idea to limit the federal government’s means for raising revenue to a kind of capped tithe from the states.
Hamilton: “Print it off for me sometime. Let’s move on.”
Dithers: “Pass the Sherry.”
Congressional Term Limits
2010 and the TEA Party proved once and for all to our chapter term limits are thoroughly unnecessary. It’s always seemed to us to be too much like a parentally imposed curfew, anyway. As far as we’re concerned, term limits already exist in accordance with original design. They are called elections.
Dithers: “On the Motion for Congressional Term Limits …”
Me: “Boo! Hiss!”
Hamilton: “Raise a toast to the Tea Parties.”
All: “Sic Semper Tyrannis!”
The Senate Super Majority Amendment
The one part of original design where we’ve noticed the most rot is in the operations of the Senate. The Senate was brilliantly conceived by the Founders as a deliberative body designed to protect the rights of the political minority. The 17th Amendment requiring direct election of Senators was the first chip taken out of this design. This ill-conceived amendment eventually gave us the embarrassingly clownish Al Franken, via stolen election within the modern Democrat margin of fraud.
The Filibuster rule is the last vestige of the Founders’ design for the Senate. Thank God for this rule in the 111th session – or we would be looking at uphill fights to repeal nationalized health care AND crap and tax AND blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants AND God knows what else. So, what do you think the Progressives have in mind for the 112th? Why, ending the filibuster rule, of course.
Emergency intervention could be necessary at a constitutional level. Our chapter proposes restoring the original design of the Senate by requiring super majorities for the passage of anything. The framework would be 2/3 majority required for approving Presidential appointments (as a remedy to the modern over- politicization of appointments), and 3/5 for all other bills (institutionalizing the spirit of the filibuster rule).
Dithers: “Did you guys hear about Dingy Harry plotting to kill the Senate filibuster rule?”
Me: “Lights Out Harry stole that f****n’ election – I’m tellin’ ya.”
Hamilton: “Now he has six more years to wreck the place - starting with the filibuster rule. Who’s got any bright ideas?”
Me: “Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Pick Me!”
Dithers: “Pass the Sherry, genius.”
Me: “An amendment to require supermajorities to get anything done in the Senate. I like 2/3 for confirming appointments and 3/5 for everything else.”
Dithers: “Why a higher bar for appointments?”
Me: “Elena Kagan?”
Hamilton: “Let the minutes show it is so resolved. Raise a toast to the resolution.”
All: “Sic Semper Tyrannis!”
Make The House Odd(er) Amendment
Dithers: “Nominations for oddest proposal of the year?”
Me: “I had an idea for separating the coattails of a demagogic Presidential candidate from a House wave. I think it’s elegantly simple.”
Dithers: “What do you have Mr. Oddball?”
Me: “Easy – elect the House on odd year cycles. Think of it – the country would have had one full year to assess the Empty Suit before deciding who to send to Congress on his ‘ticket.’”
Dithers: “Hmmmm, not bad, what do you think High Professor Oddball?”
Dithers: “Hey, I think Hamilton fell asleep.”
Me: “Testing, Testing, We love FDR. We Love FDR. Yep, he’s fast asleep.”
Dithers: “Let’s give him a dry erase mustache.”
Oh, oh … Hamilton seems to be stirring. I’d better post this and get out of here before he looks in a mirror. Good luck with that Dithers – heh!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our readers.
12/29/2010: Bonus Material: The Alternate Ending
Oh, oh … Hamilton has risen from his slumber.
Me: "Top of the morning, Professor."
Hamilton: “What are you doing, Fig?”
Me: “Posting on last night’s Amendment ideas”
Hamilton: “Ah – yes, the bloggee thingee. Did you say anything about my favorite – ‘Congress shall make no law mandating the purchase of any product or service.’?”
Me: “No, not yet – but I will later. Right now I need to get out of here. But first, let’s give Dithers a dry erase mustache!’
Hamilton: “An excellent suggestion young padawan. Serves him right for soiling the Irish coffee with sherry.”
6 minutes ago