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.
According to the Washington Post On March 7 (full article available on line):
It has been called a Robin Hood budget: The spending plan President Obama sent to Congress last week would give the poor new tax cuts, new college loans and a new health care system by taking nearly $1 trillion from the rich in new taxes….
But Obama is unapologetic in his pursuit of a fundamental shift in tax policy that would redistribute wealth from about 3 million elite families to forgotten lower and middle classes. "The past eight years have discredited once and for all the philosophy of trickle-down economics -- that tax breaks, income gains and wealth creation among the wealthy eventually will work their way down to the middle class," his budget states. "In its place, we need economic opportunity to trickle up."
Does any federal agency have the power to redistribute wealth?
The Constitution, Article 1, section 8:
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;
However this was modified by the 16th amendment:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
While extensive discussions have centered on the “general welfare” phase of the Constitution, I believe it applies only to the country as a whole, but not to individual citizens. If not, the power of Congress to take from the rich would indeed be unlimited.
Obama's comments above are simply divisive; pitting the populous lower income Americans against the wealthy minority. Redistribution of wealth is not addressed or implied in the Constitution. Therefore, the tenth amendment prohibits the federal government from implementing it.
Quoting Abraham Lincoln: “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”