November 4, 2014 General Election - Republican Candidates

Iowa Governor

Terry E. Branstad

US Senate

1st Congressional District

Rod Blum

Iowa Secretary of State

Paul D. Pate

Iowa Auditor of State

Mary Mosiman

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

Bill Northey

Iowa Attorney General

Adam Gregg

Iowa Treasurer

Sam Clovis

State Representative District 71

Jane A. Jech

State Representative District 72

Dean Fisher

Marshall County Supervisor

Bill Patten

Dave Thompson

Marshall County Attorney
Jennifer Miller

Marshall County Treasurer

Jarret Heil

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Taxation - as a Limited Power

In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Thomas Jefferson

The Constitution is premised on the fact that humans are flawed, that leaders lust for power and that power corrupts. Rather than hoping those in government exercise restraint, the Constitution counts on the self-interest of different sovereigns and divisions within government to obstruct the general government. For this reason, the general government was separated into three branches of government. Congress was subdivided into two houses (the House representing the sovereign people, the Senate representing the sovereign States). And the social contract granted only limited powers to the general government.

But the Constitution contained one last, infallible, “chain” to bind politicians from the mischief of ambition and lust for power. This “chain” was found in Article I, Section 2(3), and Article I, Section 9(4).

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention were in agreement that the general government needed the power to tax. But there were two problems. First, the delegates knew that the power to tax was the power to enslave the People and lead to a ruling political class. So, if the general government was going to be given the power to tax, it needed to be done in a way least likely to enslave. Second, there needed to be a method of taxing that was more just than the system under the Article of Confederation. The Constitution solved both problems.

For example, under the Articles of Confederation, each State had one vote in Congress. To protect the people from the general government, Congress could not tax the people directly. Instead, each State was taxed based on the value of land in each respective State. As a result, larger states paid more in taxes to the general government than did smaller states. This aspect seemed patently unfair to the States paying more since they still only had one vote in Congress.

Just like the Articles of Confederation, the original Constitution only allowed the general government to tax the States, and not the people. Thus it preserved the function of the States as a wall of protection from enslavement by the general government. But it changed the way it taxed the States that was not only more just, but also built in another layer of protection from the growth of, and concentration of power in, the general government.

Instead of taxing the States based on the State’s land value, the Constitution, as originally adopted, taxed each State based on how many seats each State held in the House of Representatives. This was genius. For every spending bill Congress passed, the States knew they would get the bill. And the States with more votes in Congress knew their State would get a larger tax bill. And since the State legislatures would have to figure out how to tax the residents of their respective states to raise the taxes to cover Congressional spending, those legislatures would make certain the U.S. Senator they appointed was keenly aware of the dilemma.

The Constitutional wall that protected the People from direct taxation, and thus prevented the growth and concentration of power in Washington, was destroyed in 1913 by the adoption of the 16th Amendment.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Truth, if not the Whole Truth

During an election candidates tend to stretch the truth, run loose with the facts or even lie to get elected or reelected.  This casual application to integrity, honesty and human ethics makes it hard for some voters to stay the coarse through an entire election.  Though it creates a challenge, it is our responsibility to wade through the misdirecting garbage and come up with the answer because the election is going to occur whether we like the process or not.

But that is also our advantage.  Because when candidates lie they reveal to us a true self.  We are able to learn about them more than they probably had hoped we would.  It tells us their motive, their level of confidence, their level of desperation.  It opens a door for us as to how they will represent "us" if elected.  It decides for us the question as to their deserving our vote and our trust.

So as nasty as campaigns can be turn those lemons into lemonade.  Learn the truth and the character of those who ask for your vote.  And then vote.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Powers Limited - Liberty Preserved

The Constitution is a contract between the People, the States, and the general (Federal) government. Abiding by the Constitution, like abiding with any contract, requires knowing the intent of the original parties.
The provisions of the Constitution clearly show the intent was to restrict the jurisdiction and obstruct the exercise of powers delegated to the general government. Through careful design, the Constitution provided for separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism, and ingenious restraints on taxation.
But the principle parties to this social contract still wanted more protections against the general government. Thus, they granted to it only specific and limited powers.
Under Article I, Section 8, Congress was granted only power to make all laws reasonable and necessary to:
levy uniform taxes; borrow money; regulate trade with foreign nations and Indian Tribes; regulate interstate commerce, immigration, bankruptcies; coin money and regulate its value; fix standard weights and measures; punish counterfeiters; establish Post Offices and post roads; protect inventors; create courts inferior to the supreme Court; punish piracy; declare war, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; raise, support and make the rules for military forces; call forth and employing the Militia; legislating over D.C.
Regardless of these powers, Article I, Section 9, states the government could not:
stop importation of slaves until 1808; enact laws aimed at individuals; apply laws retroactively; tax the people directly; tax exports from States; pass commerce laws preferring one State over another; draw money from the Treasury without authority of law; grant title of nobility.
Under Article II, the President is the Commander in Chief, and signs Treaties; nominates judges, ambassadors and other public officers; fills vacancies; informs Congress of the State of the Union; and faithfully executes the law.
Under Article III, the Supreme Court had power to adjudicate cases involving Ambassadors, the Constitution, federal statutes, Treaties, disputes where the general government is a party, disputes between States, disputes between citizens of different States, disputes between a State and a citizen of another State.
The intent to limit the power of the general government was also made clear during passage of the Constitution. To win approval of the People and the States, promoters of the Constitution explained its meaning through a series of published papers known as the Federalist Papers.
According to Federalist Paper No. 45 -
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, such as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce . . . The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
According to Federalist Paper No. 78 –
“The Judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power . . . the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter.”
These promises of limited government were later crystalized by the 10th Amendment –

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Preserving Your Right to Complain

Each election provides this Representative Republic a chance to start over, to get it right, to make things better.  What seems more common is that time after time, election after election, people complain about the election process and it's results after the fact.  The government sworn in the following January charged with representing us (or not) and dealing with the problems facing us is not to their liking.

All too often, those that complain the most and the loudest are those that were least engaged with the  very process that gave them the very government about which they complain.  When asked what they did during the election most reply with a blank stare or a "what does that have to do with anything?!"

My answer?  EVERYTHING.  Because the future of our country, our way of life and our future are at stake to the such a great extent there is no room for a middle ground.  CONCLUSION?  If you aren't part of the solution then you are part of the problem.

To preserve your right to complain you must fully engage in the process with your vote, your contribution of time and treasure, your commitment to persuasively engage your fellow citizens.  Anything less, then, respectfully, please keep quite.

Peter G. Rogers
Chairman / Marshall County Republicans

Federalism Creates a United States

Perhaps the most potent check and balance in the Constitution was its “federalism”. Federalism refers to the checks and balances between the power of the people and State on one hand and that of the general government on the other hand.

As Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist Paper No. 15 - “There is, in the nature of sovereign power, an impatience of control that disposes those who are invested with the exercise of it to look with an evil eye upon all attempts to restrain it . . . This tendency . . . has its origin in the love of power . . . The balance between the national and state governments . . . forms a double security to the people . . . by the rivalry which will ever subsist between them.”

Remember, the Preamble of the Constitution begins “We the People of the United States". Since it was the People and the States that created the general government by adopting the Constitution, the general government could only derive those powers that were delegated to it by the People and the States.

As Thomas Jefferson put it – “The several states composing the United States of America . . . constituted a general government for special purposes [and] delegated to that government certain definite powers and whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force. To this compact each state acceded as a state, and is an integral party, its co-states forming, as to itself, the other party. The government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself, since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution the measure of its powers."

In other words, under “federalism” the People and the States were intended as strong checks and balances against the growth of the general government. These “vertical” restraints are enshrined in the Constitution as originally adopted.

The People are the ultimate check on the general government. As explained by James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 49 - “As the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter under which the power of the several branches of government is derived, it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory to recur to the same original authority [the will of the people] . . . whenever any one of the departments may commit encroachments on the chartered authorities of the others.”

To this end the Constitution gives the People of each state the power to directly elect members of Congress. Congress was divided into two chambers - the House of Representatives and the Senate. Each State was apportioned seats in the House proportionate to its share of the nation’s population. For this reason, the Constitution provided for a census every ten years. To best allow the People to check the government, Congressional elections occur every two years. (Article I, Section 2).

The People also had an indirect check on the general government through the checks expressly extended to the States under the Constitution. The Constitution provides that the President is chosen by Electors chosen by each State (the Electoral College). Thus, the people, through their sovereign States, have an indirect role in electing the President every four years. (Article II, Section 1)

As originally adopted, each State legislature (elected by the People) appointed that State’s representatives in the U.S. Senate. Those Senators served for six years, but could be recalled by the legislature before the term expired. (Article I, Section 3)

Since Congress could not pass laws without passing both the House and the Senate, federal laws needed the blessing of the other sovereigns (the People and the States). Through granting of power to select and retain U.S. Senators, the States were intended to play a direct and significant role in obstructing the growth and abuse of the general government. As originally adopted, the States, through the selection and retention of Senators, also checked the President. Treaties signed by the President, which are superior to State laws, and appointments of judges and officials, have no effect unless approved by the Senate (i.e., States).

In 1913 the 17th Amendment was adopted. That amendment provided that U.S. Senators shall be elected by the people directly. Thus, State sovereignty as a check and balance was virtually eliminated.

In his farewell address President George Washington warned that “love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart” must be confined by strict adherence to Constitutional checks and balances, otherwise our free Country would not survive.

The final original check and balance (also eliminated in 1913) was the genius of the tax provisions contained in Article I, Section 2(3), and Article I, Section 9(4). Next.