To be perfectly fair, one conceivable approach to the limitation of government is a hard limit on how much it may spend. However, as Johnson makes plain, that is not the nature of the limits imposed by the federal Constitution. The Constitution doesn’t specify a federal spending limit; it specifies areas of authority, beyond which Washington is forbidden to go. In theory, Washington could Constitutionally seize every dollar any of us makes or owns, if the revenue were put toward a purpose enumerated in Article I, Section 8. Granted that we wouldn’t like it, much.Yesterday, during the debate on whether to extend the Bush tax rates for a while longer, the unfortunately named Anthony Weiner, New York 9th District Congressman, had this to say (and I paraphrase since I don't have a means of recording these things) that Obama essentially caved, and that he would like to have the debate about weather to grant millionaires and billionaires continued tax relief. Sigh.
Really? We have collectively had this debate. Neither side can convince the other. But, here's how it looks from my side, one more time:
1. There is no moral basis for choosing to have millionaires and billionaires pay a higher rate than even the lowest paid person in America. Oh, someone who makes a million dollars would have to pay more, sure. But they should not also have to pay at a higher rate, since they do not benefit at a higher rate. You, of course, will paint a picture of millionaires as Monopoly men complete with stove pipe hats and cigars. They're the evil rich who rub their hands as they steal each unearned penny from the poor. But then I can paint a picture of a woman I knew once, named Martha. Martha worked at a modest level job with the Federal government. Her husband managed properties for various owners. Both made a comfortable living, but not very spectacular. When I asked her how she became a millionaire, she indicated mainly living frugally, some good investments, and her Maryland home which they had owned for twenty years and was paid off. They had no children, and she liked to contribute to environmental causes. It was not how I would have done it, but then, it was her money. It was HER money, right? Martha is one of the millionaires I have known. More are small businessmen and women who struggle every year to keep the business running and make their payroll. They get by on thin margins, and must respond to continuing competition, over and ever changing regulation, and of course, taxes. It seems, Mr. Weiner, that if you had this countries best interests at heart, you would be trying to help these people wherever you could, instead of demagoguing the issue.
2. Then there is the issue of scope of government. The Constitution grants 16 powers to the Congress. The commerce clause and the general welfare clause have been bent all out of proportion, but you know, even if you won't admit it, that the founders never intended that the Commerce clause would be stretched so that Congress can do anything it wants. Each of those powers were ones that all Americans benefit from, and therefore all Americans should pay equally. But under the current system of taxation and spending, you have created yet more moral hazards for yourselves. Each year, Americans spend a certain amount of time working for the government. If a person's tax rate comes out to 25% of his income, he therefore has to work 25% of the time for the US government. Put another way, from January to April, he is working for the government, and only after he has satisfied that debt is he "allowed" to work for himself and his family. We are, for all intents and purposes, serfs working the land for an absentee landowner who has done very little to help us, much to hinder us and get in the way, and now wants "his" share. We should chase you out of our fields, if we had the guts. Such is what you have done to a land of once free men. But it gets worse. Much of what you take in as taxes, you redistribute to others in the form of subsidies, grants, and entitlements. This makes us not only serfs, but actual slaves. A slave is someone who is forced against his will to serve another. Slavery was outlawed in this country, and yet here it is going on every day, "all nice and legal like." It is as if the Mafia moved in and now runs our government. How can you justify that, Mr. Weiner?
3. Taxes are intended as a fee, if you will, that everyone pays for the Federal government to provide a few services for the Sovereign States that they can not provide for themselves as efficiently (but I note they can provide these services if called upon to do so.) We expect the government to maintain a sound currency. We expect the government to fund a small professional armed services. We expect the government to defend our borders, to regularize trade between the States, and to carry on diplomacy with foreign powers. You have failed in all of these areas, as the Wikileaks demonstrate profoundly. Instead, you seem intent on using our resourses as a means of social engineering, or of achieving someone's idea of "social justice," or "fairness" however you define it. That is not your job, no matter how noble it may sound.
There is ultimately one solution to our debt problems, and that is to return to Government doing the job assigned to it, and getting out of the jobs it seems to want to do. If that doesn't sound like a good job to you, Mr. Weiner, then may I suggest you obtain honest work elsewhere. Serving the people is supposed to be a privilege, and not a reason to pillage.