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Friday, February 10, 2012

Ron Paul: Overpaid Konstitooshinul Skahler

Pauls' Plan To Restore America:

To stand with the American People, President Paul will take a salary of $39,336, approximately equal to the median personal income of the American worker.

Mightn't you want to follow the Constitution on that, if you're interested in restoring America?  Article II, Section 1:

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected.

His salary according to Public Law 106-58 will necessarily be $400k, and that cannot Constitutionally be altered during his term.  Surely he knows this, being a student of our founding document.  Okay, I suppose he would, what, take the salary and return most of it to the Treasury or something?  

Obviously it's symbolic pandering, but I'm still puzzled as to Paul's stopping at his being the only president to take a reduced salary.  Why has he, as a currently-serving legislator, not sponsored a bill to reduce the Executive's salary starting in 2013 (I cannot find any on Thomas or teh Google)?  If that's such an integral part of his plan, I would think it's important to accomplish no matter who is in the WH: Obama, Romney, Paul or somebody else.

I also wonder why he stopped at $39k instead of truly going above and beyond.  Ben Franklin was of a mind to not pay the Executive anything, and traveling that road now would certainly be a nod to one of the most respected Framers and an even greater step toward "fiscal sanity".

But to his credit, Paul in fact "always voted against congressional pay raises" (I presume this means voting against the automatic COLA increases, which Congress has done several times since the payment law was changed in '89).  He also proposed legislation cutting Congressional pay rates back in 1979, and admonished the debt commission to cut Congress' salary in 2011.

Yet, I cannot help but think it's easy for someone to claim to stand with the average American in terms of salary when his net worth is somewhere around $2-5M.  And while he "does not participate in the lucrative pension program," he receives a pension (old-fashined defined benefit plan, no less) of $91k, which is actually more lucrative than the average Congressional pension.  It's also unclear to me if he voluntarily refused any pay increases, as Members have the right to--perhaps we'd know that if he published his tax returns.

All that said, there is an argument to be made that Executive (and Legislative) pay should be significant, albeit moderate.  At one point in Convention, Charles Pinckney proposed the Senate not be paid so as to favor wealth and aristocracy in that chamber--no regular citizen legislator would be able to live without a salary.  One can even imagine higher pay mitigating corruption, though overly liberal salaries foster the danger of plutocracy (which, golly, we surely don't have now).

Anyway, it's just weird that Paul's proposals regarding pay come from him as candidate for an office that cannot actually implement them, rather from him as a member of the only body that can, per the Constitution.  I guess I should expect that from a guy who clearly hasn't read the entire document (and can't get even the most basic facts right).

Oh yeah consistency isn't his strong suit.  This is one of my favorite set of proposals:

* Immediately saving lives by effectively repealing Roe v. Wade and preventing activist judges from interfering with state decisions on life by removing abortion from federal court jurisdiction through legislation modeled after his “We the People Act.” [here]

* Defining life as beginning at conception by passing a “Sanctity of Life Act.” [here]

So we'll stop the Courts from "interfering" with a state issue (this, BTW, is similar to Gingrich's ahistorical Constitutonal bombast), then Congress will, you know...define life for the states.  I'm squinting really hard and I cannot see an enumerated Congressional power to define when life begins, so perhaps our dear Paulista friends can explain.  If nothing else, that should be left to the states as well, eh?

The scariest thing about this wholly inconsistent "states' rights" stuff, beyond being a Lost Cause/Jim Crow dog whistle, is just how dangerous it is to liberty.  It destroys equal protection under the 14th amendment and ignores a significant reason the Framers tossed out the Articles of Confederation in favor of our Constitution in the first place (hint: it involves forming some kind of Union).  Folks like Paul seem to forget just what a disaster the Articles were and how our Republic was established with checks and balances not merely at the Federal level, but also between levels of government.

They also forget that unless Donne was wrong, individual rights necessarily collide at times and government (including the Judiciary) is there to help resolve that conflict.  Part of that resolution is recognizing reasonable limits to our inalienable rights: the First Amendment, for example, does not protect libel/slander, yelling fire in a crowded theater, etc.  I would suspect Paul would not think the First Amendment protects killings for violations of Islamic teachings (though given his views on slander and fraud, I'm sure he would defer to the states).

Which brings me to the abject horror that Paul (amongst other people looking for bogus wedge issues) has expressed toward Obama's contraceptive rule:

Forcing private religious institutions to pay for contraception and sterilization as part of their health care plans is a direct assault on the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.

There is an astonishing amount of dissonance and/or ignorance on display here.

First of all, this mandate has fundamentally been around for over a decade and Paul et al didn't make a stink, even though it operates under the auspices of the Hated Civil Rights Act.  Odd that such a vigilant defender of liberty could have dropped the ball for so long, and through so many presidential campaigns.

Of course under the rule, churches are still exempt and individuals are not being forced to take birth control against their consciences.  So it's still a bit unclear to me how this violates the First Amendment.

There is indeed an assault on rights here, but it ain't against Catholic organizations operating in non-religious capacities that employ non-Catholics.  It's against the rights of women to not be discriminated against by virtue of their sex.

But suppose there were an actual conflict of rights: First Amendment vs reproductive freedom without discrimination.  There seems to be a reasonable limit on the former, which says that in a pluralistic society if you are an employer which can be regulated under the Civil Rights Act (and Commerce Clause) and accepts Federal monies, you cannot impose your religious views on your employees.  That would not impact your right to religious practice or belief, whereas you would otherwise be impacting employee's legal access to medical treatment.

This is mostly ground that has been ably covered by other people, so let me quickly move on to something that is more interesting to me.  In his statement, Paul went on to say:

Unlike Mitt Romney, whose Massachusetts health care plan contained a contraceptive mandate similar to the one contained in ObamaCare, I have never supported any government health care mandates.

So wait, Mr States' Rights says state governments can mandate that a woman has no control over her own body but can't say employers/policies must cover birth control just like they do boner pills?  Bummer that 28 states do just that (including CA and NY, where the laws have been upheld).

It's a shame he doesn't believe in incorporation because then he could act on his concern for "free exercise of religion", which has been protected at the state level since a 1940 SCOTUS ruling.  That case, BTW, dealt with a clear violation of the First Amendment which was UPHELD by a STATE COURT.

But all of this, like much of our history and many of the words in our Constitution, is just inconvenient stuff for Ron Paul and his supporters to ignore.

ntodd

PS--Speaking of Ron Paul, I'd like to throw out another opportunity to contribute to our Slow Burn NTodd Computer And Healing The Whole Famdamily Money Bomb.  I mean, if you've read this far...and hey, it's not like I get paid by the word!

February 10, 2012 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink

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