What If There Is Another Government Shutdown?

The shutdown showdown seems like a wild train ride and the political aftermath is only just picking up steam. I think it is important to be clear about what the faithful few are actually fighting for (and against) during the shutdown showdown. Let me reset the framework in the simplest possible terms, so that we don’t forget the essentials.

Our federal government, created by the States in 1787, was created to be a limited and defined federal government. Not my words, but the words of the people who created it – easily researchable and verifiable.

James Madison (called the Father of the Constitution) said in Fed. Papers #45 that “the powers (not rights) DELEGATED (a term repeated in the 10th Amendment) to the federal government are FEW & DEFINED and those that REMAIN in the States are NUMEROUS & INDEFINITE.” Madison then tells us what those few powers delegated to the feds are…he calls them “external objects” meaning the feds are limited essentially to FOREIGN affairs and then he further clarifies by saying they are specifically, “war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.”

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HEALTH INSURANCE, not falling in one of these categories, is NOT a power that has been delegated to the federal government by the States. One might invoke the General Welfare Clause, etc. but that would be a misapplication of the Constitution.  For brevity sake, I will simply refer you to a full analysis on this issue, if you are inclined to be further educated on the proper application of the General Welfare Clause as given again by James Madison by reading this article “The General Welfare Clause, Justification for Obamacare?”  

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Since healthcare is not a delegated power, its regulation by the central government is an unconstitutional act.  Alexander Hamilton clarified in Fed. #78, that “no legislative act contrary to the Constitution can be valid.” Therefore Obamacare is unconstitutional.  One may now say, but the Supreme Court has declared it Constitutional therefore it is.  Fortunately, that is also an improper placement of power in the hands of the Supreme Court. For brevity sake, I will refer you to a full analysis on this topic for further education in my Letter to TX Attorney General Greg Abbott”

Now, it is hardly disputed that the current govt. does not have the funding to operate Obamacare as it is written and with all the technical difficulties it is getting more and more expensive everyday. Even the proponents cannot disclaim that fact and that is why we need to increase our borrowing limit to sustain it.

However, one of the biggest problems with Obamacare is NOT its economic impact, but the door it opens to federal intrusion. The problem stems from the application of a principle created by the Supreme Court called “significant governmental interest” or “compelling governmental interest”. What this doctrine supposes is that if the government has a “significant or compelling interest” in something, that interest then trumps our Rights. It is how 134 Republicans can vote that the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply to the federal government when they have a “national security” interest.  National security becomes that “compelling interest” that overrides our 4th Amendment Right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Obamacare gives the federal government a “compelling interest” in our healthcare by providing our health insurance. (NOTE: Obamacare does not provide HealthCare, it provides health insurance.  Insurance doesn’t guarantee care; we should know that by now.) With a “compelling interest” in our health, the federal government can now insert itself into every aspect of our daily lives, trumping any right or freedom we might possess. With a “compelling interest” in our healthcare, we have placed in the hands of the government a “compelling interest” in our health.  The situation of our health directly impacts our healthcare.

With a “compelling interest” in our health, the government could potentially regulate where we live, by claiming we live too far from a hospital or appropriate healthcare facility, thus preventing their ability to provide adequate healthcare and creating too great of a financial burden on our healthcare system. With this “compelling interest” the government can also claim the authority to tell us what we can and cannot eat, making certain foods ILLEGAL because they are not regulated and approved by the government as “healthy”. (Remember Bloomberg’s war on soft drinks? Put that on the national level.)  Now what you have is every aspect of our daily lives regulated by the federal government based upon a “compelling governmental interest”. That is not Liberty.  That is slavery.

One of the means to check such federal overreach was placed in Article 1 section 7 of the Constitution and the founder’s explanation of the powers and purposes of those powers vested in the House of Representatives. This appears to have been the basis for the shutdown. Of course it did not work because we no longer operate by the Constitution.

Here is how it is supposed to work: Article 1 Section 7 of the Constitution reads, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.”

Since the Supreme Court has declared Obamacare a tax, its funding must originate in the House. The Senate “may” propose amendments, but that is not a requirement.  So, the House has the sole authority to fund Obamacare and the sole authority to defund Obamacare.  Although the Senate may not like it, they technically have no Constitutional say in the matter. James Madison tells us exactly why:

“The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This POWER OVER THE PURSE may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”~Federalist #58 (emphasis mine)

Further clarity of intent comes from a discussion between Alexander White and James Madison, both members of the US House representing the State of Virginia:

Mr. White: “The Constitution, having authorized the House of Representatives alone to originate money bills, places an important trust in our hands, which, as their protectors, we ought not to part with. I do not mean to imply that the Senate are less to be trusted than this house; but the Constitution, no doubt for wise purposes, has given the immediate representatives of the people a control over the whole government in this particular, which, for their interest, they ought not to let out of their hands.”

Mr. Madison: “The Constitution places the power in the House of originating money bills. The principal reason why the Constitution had made this distinction was, because they were CHOSEN BY THE PEOPLE, and supposed to be the best acquainted with their interest and ability.”

The purse is a power placed in the hands of the House on purpose and for a purpose.  It is, in itself, an important check on government power; reigns in the hands of the people to control the spending and growth of government. Every time the House FAILS to maintain this check; every time the House passes a Continuing Resolution instead of a Budget, that vital check fails and the House RELINQUISHES, what our framers thought to be, one of the MOST IMPORTANT POWERS held in trust for the people.

This is how our government is SUPPOSED to work. What we witnessed during the opening weeks of October 2013 is a result of years of the erosion and surrendering of strict Constitutional processes.  By using the so-called continuing resolutions (CR) rather than engaging in the legitimate budget process, Congress has SIDESTEPPED the Constitution. One cannot claim to be in a debate about the budget if there is no budget, and a CR is not a budget.

However, the depth of ignorance as to what the Constitutional mechanisms are, and more importantly, why we have them, has allowed our government to be hijacked by those who would destroy the nation by driving us over the cliff of debt to support a welfare state. The ignorant populace, driven by media misinformation and propaganda, cheers this runaway train and labels those who desperately sought to return our nation to fiscal sanity as “reckless”.

I will tell you what is reckless: trying to drive this freight train completely blind, ignoring the operator’s manual while our children are tied to the tracks. America, this train is out of control, bandits are at the levers and the builders are doubtless scratching their heads wondering why we are bent on our own destruction. Remember this in the coming months as liberal Dems and RINO Republicans try to convince the voters that a ride on their crazy train is the way to go.

KrisAnne Hall is an attorney and former prosecutor. Hall hosts weekly radio and TV programs and teaches an average of 265 classes in over 22 States each year on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. KrisAnne is a disabled Army veteran, a Russian linguist, a mother, a pastor’s wife and a patriot. Learn more at krisannehall.com.

The Language of Liberty series is a collaborative effort of the Center for Self Governance (CSG) Administrative Team. CSG is a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization, dedicated to training citizens in applied civics. The authors include administrative staff, selected students, and guest columnists. The views expressed by the authors are their own and do not reflect the views of CSG. Contact them at [email protected]

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