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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Some Advice As Congress Dithers About Tax Rates

McCulloch v Maryland (1819):

It is admitted that the power of taxing the people and their property is essential to the very existence of Government, and may be legitimately exercised on the objects to which it is applicable, to the utmost extent to which the Government may choose to carry it. The only security against the abuse of this power is found in the structure of the Government itself. In imposing a tax, the legislature acts upon its constituents. This is, in general, a sufficient security against erroneous and oppressive taxation.

Helvering v Davis (1937):

The problem is plainly national in area and dimensions. Moreover, laws of the separate states cannot deal with it effectively. Congress, at least, had a basis for that belief. States and local governments are often lacking in the resources that are necessary to finance an adequate program...This is brought out with a wealth of illustration in recent studies of the problem. Apart from the failure of resources, states and local governments are at times reluctant to increase so heavily the burden of taxation to be borne by their residents for fear of placing themselves in a position of economic disadvantage as compared with neighbors or competitors. We have seen this in our study of the problem of unemployment compensation. Steward Machine Co. v. Davis, supra...The existence of such a system is a bait to the needy and dependent elsewhere, encouraging them to migrate and seek a haven of repose. Only a power that is national can serve the interests of all.

Whether wisdom or unwisdom resides in the scheme of benefits set forth...is not for us to say. The answer to such inquiries must come from Congress, not the courts. Our concern here, as often, is with power, not with wisdom. Counsel for respondent has recalled to us the virtues of self-reliance and frugality. There is a possibility, he says, that aid from a paternal government may sap those sturdy virtues and breed a race of weaklings. If Massachusetts so believes and shapes her laws in that conviction, must her breed of sons be changed, he asks, because some other philosophy of government finds favor in the halls of Congress? But the answer is not doubtful.

One might ask with equal reason whether the system of protective tariffs is to be set aside at will in one state or another whenever local policy prefers the rule of laissez faire. The issue is a closed one. It was fought out long ago.  When money is spent to promote the general welfare, the concept of welfare or the opposite is shaped by Congress, not the states. So the concept be not arbitrary, the locality must yield.

Dear GOP: the voters have weighed your policies and found them wanting.  

Most Americans want to raise taxes modestly on the wealthiest of wealthy.  And ObamaCare not only addresses a national problem, not only reduces the deficit, but is in fact the law of the land.

So do what's right.  And that one's free...


December 4, 2012 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink


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Read what Robert Reich has to say about the three "cliffs" we really face (hint: none of them is fiscal in nature).

Then, if you're a hardcore GOPer, look me straight in the eye and tell me from the heart... without wincing... that the fiscal cliff is our highest national priority. Can't do it, can you? What's that? You can? OK, go read John Dean's book Conservatives Without Conscience... and keep a mirror handy.

Posted by: Steve Bates | Dec 5, 2012 7:45:31 PM

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