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Current Events vs. Founding Documents

This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.

Protecting Minority Rights

tax policy, Constitution

Entry 170

Current Event

According to President Obama at a press conference on November 4, 2011; question from Norah O'Donnell.

The world leaders here have stressed growth -- the importance of growth.  And yet growth back at home has been anemic, the new jobs report today showing just 88,000 jobs added.  The Republicans in Congress have made it clear that they're going to block your jobs bill because they believe the tax hikes in it hurt small businesses.  At what point do you feel that you declare stalemate to try and reach common ground?  And do you feel like you have been an effective leader when it comes to the economy?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: 

You say, Norah, that the reason they haven't voted for them is because they don't want to tax small business.  Well, actually, that's not -- if that's their rationale then it doesn't fly, because the bill that they voted down yesterday -- a component of the American jobs bill -- essentially said we can create hundreds of thousands of jobs, rebuilding our infrastructure, making America more competitive, and the entire program will be paid for by a tax not on millionaires but people making a million dollars a year or more, which in the United States is about -- a little over 300,000 people.

                                              ………………………………………….

 

According to the Heritage Foundation: Top earners are the target for new tax increases, but the U.S. tax system is already highly progressive. The top 1 percent of income earners paid 40 percent of all federal income taxes in 2007, while the bottom 50 percent paid only 3 percent. More than one-third of U.S. earners paid no federal income tax at all.

                                            ………………………………………….

 

According to ABSNews.com; Dec 4, 2012

No Fiscal Deal Without Higher Tax Rates On Rich, Obama Says

President Obama today declared there would be no deal to avert the looming fiscal cliff unless Republicans agree to raise rates on the top 2 percent of income-earners.

“If we’re going to raise revenues that are sufficient to balance with the very tough cuts that we’ve already made and the further reforms in entitlements that I’m prepared to make, that we’re going to have to see the rates on the top 2 percent go up. And we’re not going to be able to get a deal without it,” he told Bloomberg News in his first interview since the election.

The day after House Republicans sent the president a $2.2 trillion offer, the president said “unfortunately, the Speaker’s proposal right now is still out of balance.”

….

                                              ………………………………………………….

According to The Foundry.com of the Heritage Foundation

 

Chart of the Week: Nearly Half of All Americans Don’t Pay Income Taxes

This year’s Index of Dependence on Government [2] presented startling findings about the sharp increase of Americans who rely on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid or other assistance. (See last week’s chart [3].)

Another eye-popping number was the percentage of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, which now accounts for nearly half of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, most of that population receives generous federal benefits.

“One of the most worrying trends in the Index is the coinciding growth in the non-taxpaying public,” wrote Heritage authors Bill Beach and Patrick Tyrrell. “The percentage of people who do not pay federal income taxes, and who are not claimed as dependents by someone who does pay them, jumped from 14.8 percent in 1984 to 49.5 percent in 2009.”

That means 151.7 million Americans paid nothing in 2009. By comparison, 34.8 million tax filers paid no taxes in 1984.

The rapid growth of Americans who don’t pay income taxes is particularly alarming for the fate of the American form of government, Beach and Tyrrell warned. Coupled with higher spending on government programs, it is already proving to be a major fiscal challenge.

“This trend should concern everyone who supports America’s republican form of government,” Beach and Tyrrell wrote. “If the citizens’ representatives are elected by an increasing percentage of voters who pay no income tax, how long will it be before these representatives respond more to demands for yet more entitlements and subsidies from non-payers than to the pleas of taxpayers to exercise greater spending prudence?”

 

VS

The majority of us vs. The Constitution

 

Founding Document

 

The valuable improvements made by the American constitutions on the popular models, both ancient and modern, cannot certainly be too much admired; but it would be an unwarrantable partiality, to contend that they have as effectually obviated the danger on this side, as was wished and expected. Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.

---Jame Madison, Federalist 10

                                              ………………………………………………….

 

"If a majority are capable of preferring their own private interest, or that of their families, counties, and party, to that of the nation collectively, some provision must be made in the constitution, in favor of justice, to compel all to respect the common right, the public good, the universal law, in preference to all private and partial considerations... And that the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority, is demonstrated by every page of history... To remedy the dangers attendant upon the arbitrary use of power, checks, however multiplied, will scarcely avail without an explicit admission some limitation of the right of the majority to excercise sovereign authority over the individual citizen... In popular governments [democracies], minorities [individuals] constantly run much greater risk of suffering from arbitrary power than in absolute monarchies..."

-      John Adams

 

We the People:

 

Notice the underlined words in the quotes from Madison and Adams.  Protecting minority rights is why they gave us a representative constitutional republic instead of a pure democracy.  However, we in the majority are about to allow our leaders to take from that minority of 300,000 what is rightfully theirs.  That is theft.  When tax policy turns from paying for essential shared services to transferring income from any minority, liberty is compromised.  This is “tyranny of the majority” referenced by Alexis de Tocqueville.

 

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