'Supercommittee' Violates Constitution

Friday, 19 Aug 2011 10:53 AM

By Betsy McCaughey

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We the people are being shoved between a rock and and a hard place —
forced to accept tax hikes imposed by a deficit reduction committee or
go along with cuts to defense and national security that, we are told,
will imperil our safety and harm our troops.

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that the $500
billion in future cuts to defense spending that will be triggered if
the deficit reduction committee’s plan is not adopted would have
“devastating effects on our national defense.” Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton chimed in, saying the cuts would “cast a pall on our
ability" to protect our security interests. Is this a booby trap?

The committee, devised as part of the debt-ceiling deal on Aug.
2, has until Thanksgiving to decide how to slightly trim the federal
government’s annual deficits over the next decade. The six Democrats on the 12-member "supercommittee" already are pushing for what they call a “balanced approach,” meaning raising taxes, not just adjusting spending. (They seem to forget that the Obama health law enacted 16 months ago raised taxes by $503 billion.)

It’s one thing for a committee to recommend tax increases, but this
committee has arm-twisting power. Congress is forced to vote up or
down on the committee’s plan with no amendments allowed, and if the
plan fails, the draconian spending cuts to defense and national
security automatically go into effect.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich explained that the committee has the power to deliver ultimatums: “We can shoot you in the head or cut off your right leg.” In short, tax hikes or dangerous defense cuts.

That’s a perversion of the U.S. Constitution, trampling the American
commitment to “no taxation without representation.” Article 1, Sec.
7 of the Constitution says “all bills for raising revenue shall
originate in the House of Representatives.” Only the 435 members of
the House can do it.

To protect us from excessive taxation, the framers decided that tax increases have to originate in the most representative branch of government. House members are elected every two years from small districts, and the framers reasoned, would be closest to the people and safeguard their freedom. Not even the 100 members of the U.S. Senate were given that authority. Delegating it to 12 people is a travesty.

The committee’s mandate is puny: to reduce deficit spending by $1.2
trillion over the next decade, though the deficit is roughly that
amount every year.

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., one of the architects of the
deficit reduction committee, rationalized that it would “tackle some
of the very difficult problems that we have been unwilling or unable
to deal with.” Congress already has a well-developed committee system
to develop recommendations.

lf the current members of Congress are unwilling, or unable, to make even miniscule reductions in the deficit, as McConnell says they are, the nation is better off electing new members than compromising our constitutional ideals.

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