The Magna Carta, written in 1215, guaranteed the English people political liberties and is recognized as the keystone in the historic process that led to constitutional Rule of Law. It forced King John to consult with the nobles before making capricious decisions like passing taxes. This became the first seed that limited the “Divine Right of Kings,” the belief that kings derived their power directly from God and were not subject to any earthly authority.
John Locke wrote “Where there is no law, there is no freedom.” His philosophy greatly influenced our Founding Fathers. At the Constitutional Convention, Elbridge Gerry stated: “In short, the acceptance of the plan (U.S. Constitution) will inevitably fail, if the Senate be not restrained from originating Money Bills.”
The Constitutional Convention delegates were suspicious of the ability to tax and wanted that power kept as close to the voters as possible. They believed the House of Representatives would be the house most responsive to the voters because they were elected every two years.
The Framers wrote the “Origination Clause” into the Constitution. It says that all bills for raising revenue have to originate in the House of Representatives. James Madison’s notes point out that the Constitution might not have been ratified without the Origination Clause.
Fast forward to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). On Nov. 7, 2009, the House of Representatives passed its own health care bill, House Resolution 3962 and sent it onto the Senate. It was never acted on because the Senate focused on House Resolution 3590.
HR 3590 was a bill introduced that September by Rep. Charles Rangel. The purpose of the bill was to amend the IRS Code to give tax credit to military members who were first-time home buyers. That resolution passed the House with a unanimous consent vote of 416-0.
Kate Leone, senior health counsel for Sen. Harry Reid said in a 2011 email: “Basically, we needed a non-controversial House revenue measure to proceed to, so that is why we used the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act. It wasn’t more complicated than that.”
HR 3590 as passed by the House contained 714 words and had nothing to do with health care. Reid took out every word and added 379,976 words which included $675 billion in new taxes, and that became Obamacare.
After gutting the original bill, Harry Reid did keep one thing, the number, HR 3590. Essentially the Senate introduced the largest tax increase in American history and kept the original House number so they could claim that the bill originated in the House of Representatives.
In 2012 the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling that while Congress had no power to force people to buy health insurance, it did have power to tax them for not buying insurance. The justices did issue the following caution: “Even if the taxing power enables Congress to impose a tax on not obtaining health insurance, any tax must still comply with other requirements in the Constitution.”
In April 2013, the Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit claiming that ObamaCare actually began in the Senate, a violation of the Constitution’s Origination Clause. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell, an Obama appointee, rejected that argument, ruling that the Supreme Court had already decided on the law’s constitutionality and that the revenue-raising portion of Obamacare was “incidental” to its main mission.
The foundation filed an appeal in the Court of Appeals in July and an opening brief on Oct. 23, 2013. They are now waiting for a date for the oral arguments. Forty Republicans in the House signed onto the brief.
The Democrat leadership used trickery to get around the Origination Clause. They have totally disregarded governing with the “consent of the governed.” The Framers’ exact fear of taxation without adequate representation has materialized.
Reid and the Democratic senators must be reminded that the “divine right of rulers” disappeared with the Magna Carta. This will happen only if the American people show those overreaching senators that they are subject to earthly authority by voting them out and replacing them with senators who honor our Constitution and the Rule of Law.
Daniel Webster said, “Hold onto the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.” Even though senators must swear or affirm that they will “support and defend the Constitution,” the Democratic senators revealed their indifference for the Constitution when they circumnavigated the Origination Clause.
The primary and general elections are on the horizon. The new Senate leader could have our Kentucky values or continue to be Harry Reid with his “sleight-of-hand” tricks. The outcome of both elections will either enhance or continue to weaken our Constitution. It’s your decision.
WILLEE COOPER is a former teacher and military spouse. A Hopkinsville resident, she is past president of the Kentucky Federation of Republican Women. Her column runs twice a month. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.