There have been lots of leaks and previewing of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech tomorrow night, where his proposals are expected to include free community college, more stringent methane emissions standards, and tax hikes for the wealthy.  And I’m sure the official response from the GOP afterwards, through newly-elected Senator Joni Ernst, will be robust and full of valid criticism for the president’s plans.

But I’m also sure that the GOP response will, as always, be sorely lacking.  For, while it will surely focus on the damaging nature of Obama’s proposals on America and her economy, it will stop there and not progress to where it should.

You see, higher taxes aren’t the problem, they’re just a symptom of the main problem: allowing the federal government to do anything that it’s not specifically required to do via the enumerated powers.

Taxes should be as absolutely high as they need to be to pay for the required duties of government.  But that taxation should be proportionate among the citizens, in accordance with equal rights, and the collected tax dollars should ONLY be spent on the government’s VERY FEW required duties.

Whether or not you believe in or support the Constitution, it remains the sole basis for our system of government – THE legal precedent.  And the purpose of that document is to limit the federal government, in favor of individual liberty.  Thus, the default position of government is an ABSENCE of power, and it’s only ALLOWED to do what it’s REQUIRED to do via the Constitution’s enumerated powers…no more, no less.

Talking about the harmful economic effects of Obama’s policies/spending/proposals is all valid and necessary, no question about it.  But focusing SOLELY on that misses the most important issue…that the federal government is not authorized to have a role of ACTION in the economy, but simply one of PROTECTION.

And, unfortunately, most of what the government currently does is absolutely prohibited by virtue of not being included among the strictly limited, specifically enumerated powers.  Obamacare, for instance, is not just an economically harmful law, it’s also completely illegal, as nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government granted the power to have anything whatsoever to do with health care/insurance.

Of course, the same goes for other long-standing federal programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc.  If the Constitution’s enumerated powers don’t specifically require the government to do something, then that thing is specifically PROHIBITED by virtue of that omission.

As Alexander Hamilton explained clearly in Federalist 84 when arguing against the inclusion of the Bill of Rights: “For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?”  If the power isn’t specifically granted by the Constitution, then it does not exist…period.

And don’t fall prey to those who would tell you that these extra-constitutional powers exist as a result of the “general welfare” clause or some other such nonsense.  First of all, it’s “general” – so anything the federal government does must apply to ALL citizens equally.  Secondly, that clause is NOT an enumerated power, but simply a REASON for the enumerated powers – an overall responsibility to be fulfilled via their execution.

So, while Obama’s promises of more “free” stuff and the unequal application of tax hikes to pay for it sound appealing to some, the simple fact remains that these are just the most recent examples of government activities that are strictly prohibited…constitutionally speaking.

And when it comes to the federal government, the Constitution is ALL that matters.


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