Great article today from my good friend, Joe Hilliard, over at Lehigh Valley Political Blog concerning Congress’ unprecedented and unconstitutional taxation of a specific group of people. If this unconscionable bill is upheld by the courts, it sets a various dangerous precedent of allowing the government to use the power to tax on political enemies and unpopular figures. Anyway, check out Joe’s in-depth thoughts on the subject:
The House voted to penalize AIG bonus recipients with a punitive tax. There is no control on Federal Power at all now. I am not defending AIG, but these members of Congress are arrogant hypocrites which I will explain in a series of posts.
The enormity, and the infamy, of this vote will require several posts. This series will cover three clauses of the Constitution – the Bill of Attainder, ex post facto, and contracts. The last will explain who wastes more taxpayer money – AIG executives or Congress?
The first point: “No Bill of Attainder… shall be passed.” Article I, Section 9, Clause 3
But first, what is a “bill of attainder”? I dusted off my “The Heritage Guide to the Constitution” and found the following:
“The Constitution prohibits… the federal government… from passing either bills of attainder or ex post facto laws. The Framers considered freedom from bills of attainder and ex post facto laws so important that these are the only two individual liberties that the original Constitution protects… (Note: The Bill of Rights were the first ten amendments.) As James Madison said in Federalist No. 44, ‘Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws and laws impairing the obligation of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principal of sound legislation.’
In common law, bills of attainder were legislative acts that, without trial, condemned specifically designated persons or groups to death…
The Framers forbade bill of attainder as part of their strategy of undoing the English law of treason… Beginning with Chief Justice John Marshall, however, the Supreme Court has insisted that a ‘Bill of Attainder may affect the life of an individual, or may confiscate his property, or may do both.’ (Fletcher v. Peck, 1810)…
… As the decisions of the Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803) and United States v. Klein (1871) made clear, only a court can hold a trial, evaluate the evidence, and determine the merits of the claim or accusation…
The Court decided a three-part test to determine when a piece of legislation violates the Bill of Attainder Clause: such legislation specifies the affected persons, includes punishment, and lacks a judicial trial…”
However, like many “nuisance” clauses in the Constitution to protect individuals and states by RESTRAINING the federal government, this has fallen by the wayside.
What will political/lawyer government officials argue? “Well, they can voluntarily give back their bonuses.” “We are not seizing property.” “Or, bonuses are not property.”
It is this type of wordplay that has been destroying liberty in the United States for the last 75 years.
And why not target other undesirable groups with punitive 90% tax rates? Gee, let’s start with evil oil executives… Ridiculous? Not really. Groups can be targeted. All businesses receive tax money – or tax breaks – so where do we drew the line? I draw it at the Consitution unlike many of our pandering, spineless politicians who merely want to win the next election instead of standing for principles.
And the ultimately disgusting fact is that this “contract provision” to ALLOW these bonuses was part of the “Stimulus Bill”! Remember, the one that nobody had the time to read, like Senator Specter. Why was it put in? Because the government wanted to keep AIG executives at the company to help work through the collapse and the restructuring of the company. These executives stayed and now they are being punished by the very Congress that OFFERED these bonuses. And for those politicians who voted for this but now claim that they did not know about it – perhaps it is a good idea to read legislation before you vote on it. For those who did not vote on it, and are now outraged, why have you been silent? If this was such an outrage, why didn’t you publicize this BEFORE the final vote? Or even AFTER the vote?
We are losing our country, rapidly. And poll-watching, pandering politicians, including a lot of Republicans are helping to destroy all that our country stands for. Who in Pennsylvania has used the Constitution as toilet paper today?:
Charles Dent (R) 15th
James Gerlach (R) 6th
Todd Platts (R) 19th
Patick Murphy (D) 8th
John Murtha (D) 12th
Chaka Fattah (D) 2nd
Jason Altmire (D) 4th
Tim Holden (D) 17th
Paul Kanjorski (D) 11th
Joe Sestak (D) 7th
Robert Brady (D) 1st
Kathleen Dahlkemper (D) 3rd
Chris Carney (D) 10th
Allyson Schwartz (D) 13th
Michael Doyle (D) 14th
Who are the heroes who held the Constitution above mob outrage?
Glenn Thompson (R) 5th
Bill Shuster (R) 9th
Joe Pitts (R) 16th
Tim Murphy (R) 18th