Here are the plain and simple Constitutional enumerated powers of Congress:
- The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; [Altered by Amendment XVI “Income tax”.]
- To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
- To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
- To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
- To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
- To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
- To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
- To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
- To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
- To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
- To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
- To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
- To provide and maintain a Navy;
- To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
- To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
- To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
- To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
- To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Now consider this list of items and the number of bills dealing with the subject
- Agriculture and Food (87 bills)
- Animals (53 bills)
- Armed Forces and National Security (487 bills)
- Arts, Culture, Religion (23 bills)
- Civil Rights and Liberties, Minority Issues (51 bills)
- Commerce (141 bills)
- Congress (359 bills)
- Crime and Law Enforcement (260 bills)
- Economics and Public Finance (189 bills)
- Education (315 bills)
- Emergency Management (98 bills)
- Energy (190 bills)
- Environmental Protection (158 bills)
- Families (32 bills)
- Finance and Financial Sector (162 bills)
- Foreign Trade and International Finance (100 bills)
- Government Operations and Politics (428 bills)
- Health (618 bills)
- Housing and Community Development (102 bills)
- Immigration (146 bills)
- International Affairs (331 bills)
- Labor and Employment (166 bills)
- Law (88 bills)
- Native Americans (70 bills)
- Private Legislation (76 bills)
- Public Lands and Natural Resources (415 bills)
- Science, Technology, Communications (81 bills)
- Social Sciences and History (13 bills)
- Social Welfare (89 bills)
- Sports and Recreation (34 bills)
- Taxation (611 bills)
- Transportation and Public Works (280 bills)
- Water Resources Development (57 bills)
- Uncategorized Bills (181 bills)
How many of items on that list deal with the specified enumerated powers of Congress?
Behind each of these bills is a special interest concern promoting an agenda. Paid lobbyists from corporations and special interest groups advocate for or against these bills. These lobbyists in Washington help drive of the cost of products and services in the United States and, as we are learning recently, provide insider trading tips to our lawmakers that is making them extremely wealthy while the rest of the country is struggling.
Then consider 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.
So we already see that the major problem with Congress is that they are dealing with things they have no business getting involved with but the problem doesn’t end there. We’ve all complained about the intrusions and over regulatory powers of the EPA but did you know that there are 486 departments and agencies in the United States Federal Government. Each department and agency has appointed personnel. The Lobbyists and special interests not only helped form many of the departments and agencies, but they also work to pressure these groups through regulatory powers for the benefit of their business and/or organization. Each of these departments have staff and personnel that are provided for through taxation. The overwhelming majority of these departments and agencies have little to do with the enumerated powers granted to the United States Federal Government through the Constitution.
You can download a complete list of all the agencies and departments here.
The number of voting representatives in the House is fixed by law at no more than 435, proportionally representing the population of the 50 states. There are 100 Senators for a total of 535 elected representatives in Congress. That means that there are more departments and agencies than there are members elected to the House and just 48 shy of having more departments and agencies that the entire elected body of Congress.
Now remember that doesn’t take into account the number of people actually working in each department and agency. If you eliminate the filing clerks and pencil pushers and just stick with administrative personnel for these agencies, all making policy, we have far more unelected representatives in Washington than we do elected representatives. All sustained and supported by taxes for agencies and departments that are not part of the the enumerated powers granted to Congress. All pressured by paid lobbyists that drive up the cost of goods and services.
If any member of Congress votes to shut down one of these agencies, the special interests will not provide funding to re-election coffers for that candidate. In fact, those special interest groups will spend millions in advertising campaigns to unseat that elected representative. This again comes out of profits made for the purchase of goods and services. In order to maintain those profits, the cost of goods and services increases. It also drives up the cost of running a campaign leaving many very qualified candidates out of the running since they can not compete unless they take advantage of special interest funding. If they campaign on reform with the intention of limiting Congress to the enumerated powers, they won’t get the special interest funding. And so it goes on and on.
The most egregious part of this is that in the end, all of it is funded by the working class in America. Whether through taxation or through higher prices for goods and services, it is the laborer who pays the price. By laborer, I exclude Public Sector unions, since they are entirely supported by tax dollars and special interests and every benefit or increase they receive comes at the expense of the rest of the non-public sector employees again, either through taxation or higher costs in goods and services.
Article IV Section 4, of the Constitution “guarantees to every state in this union a Republican form of government”. In the Federalist Papers (No. 10 – 1787) Madison wrote:
“We may define a republic to be … a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior. It is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.”
The sad truth is that our government has so exceeded its Constitutional limitation and has added so many departments and agencies with appointed leadership (many as political favors for campaign contributions) that we have long since abandoned the principles of a true Republican form of government. This favored class of appointed policy makers is establishing regulations on the food we can eat, what we can grow in our gardens, what type of light bulbs we can buy, etc.
Some have advocated for cleaning house in the Congress; that we elect all new people. And that will change the departments and agencies in what manner? They aren’t elected.
How will that end the special interest lobbyists which are also not elected by the people?
We can clean the house through the powers granted us by the Constitution, through the ballot box, but we have no Constitutional ability to stop the damage of these agencies and departments coupled with the special interest lobbyists unless the new people in Congress stands firm and demands these unconstitutional agencies and departments are shut down and enforce the Constitutional limitations of bills through the enumerated powers.
That is true reform. Anything short of that will not change much of anything and no committee, even if we call it a supper-committee will take this on. That will not happen until WE THE PEOPLE, stand up and tell them we know what is going on in Washington and either it stops or their political career is over.
It’s time to replace the manipulated market, empowered by a Congress who is benefiting from it, with a true free market capitalism. It is time to stop the power of lobbyists and special interests working through agencies and departments that are unconstitutional and to allow companies and organizations to succeed or fail on their own merits.