Pro Logica

July 18, 2011

Reflections on the Current State of the U.S. Congress

Filed under: Governments — Tags: , , , , , — Ron Toczek @ 1:45 pm

Recently, I have come across a bit of history concerning the Weimar Republic; yes, the government of Germany before and after WWI.  Prior to this reading, I have generally tried to compare America with the Roman Republic.  Both of these regimes, as republics, degenerated into dictatorships.  It is interesting to note that the last nail to close the coffin on both republics was their legislatures failure to govern responsibly, eventually conceding the power to make laws and allowing a person (Rome) or party (Weimar Republic) to make the laws.  When I have brought this topic to discussion, I usually get two responses–it can’t happen here or  just plain indifference.  Very few seem to be concerned.

While it is true that when one compares current happenings with historical similarities, there are differences–I would say there would have to be differences, this does not mean that on some abstract level above the mean and dirty details that possibilities of a similar nature are always exempted from happening; so, in this case, the possibility of the U.S. Republic reverting to a dictatorship of some sort is entirely plausible and the extreme bickering between the major parties could certainly be a big factor in such a development.

This ugly question rears its head, “Are the citizens of the U.S. on a course which will result in their losing its republican form of government?”  I hope not but the answer depends only on the action of those citizens who vote and the primary hope is that these voters attain the wisdom to choose representatives who will not put party above the country, something not attained for roughly 45 years, and there do not seem to be any indications of a reversal on the horizon.

Further speculation on this topic would be unwarranted but, here and there, the occasional article appears wherein a party member will bemoan certain consequences of the other party’s ruling tendencies, so it seems that the loss of our republic would definitely result in a lessening of our freedoms somewhere and anything more would be idle speculation.

July 15, 2011

Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Much of Congress’ time in 2011 as been spent in consideration of the U.S. debt; it is at an all-time high. A good part of the discussion concerns the debt ceiling provision–a law passed by Congress and also amended many times as the debt has continued to increase. While I am irked by some of the demands of our representatives, especially those showing some lack of common sense or some ignorance about government operations affecting the common welfare of the citizens of the U.S., I am concerned about the process wherein the Republican Party negotiates directly with the POTUS on fabricating an acceptable bill to be passed.

First of all, I have no objection to lawmakers talking with executive branch officers about upcoming legislation; this action, one would hope, should lead to better laws. The situation is peculiar since the Republican Party lawmakers are stubbornly unwilling to find an acceptable compromise with its Democratic Party lawmakers and has found that the POTUS is more amenable to their position. I really don’t know what the Republican Party can reasonably expect to gain by this direct negotiation. One, they cannot have the POTUS sign any kind of document nor should the POTUS sign anything; meaning he does not commit himself to signing any kind of a bill into law. Two, they would have to get any agreement into a bill passed by the House. Three, they would need the Senate’s concurrence on the bill so it could be presented to the POTUS for his signature. Fourth, they would need a two-thirds majority to override a veto. Finally, come time to pay bills, the POTUS would have contradictory Congressional laws to enforce, i.e., he either, borrows enough to pay for those costs incurred by enforcing certain laws and, thus, not enforce the debt limit, or he does not borrow and, thus, not enforce certain laws of his choosing which were duly passed by Congress.

Maybe Mr. Obama sees some re-election possibilities by entering into talks with the Republican Party members of the House but as POTUS he should tell those Republican Party members of the House to do their Constitutional job and come up with a bill that he can accept or else have the requisite two/thirds majority vote to over ride his veto and to do so in a timely manner, otherwise he will be forced to choose those law or laws which he will enforce.  Certainly, one option is for the POTUS is to disregard the debt ceiling law and borrow the necessary money while the other option would be to issue IOU’s instead of valid claims against the treasury.  Before choosing one of these extreme options, the POTUS probably would first use up money not spent within those allocations where the full allocation was not deemed necessary.  Of course, Congress could attempt to have a bill passed specifying the manner in which the default should proceed.  No such law currently exists.  To be totally effective,  when telling Congress to do their job, he should openly tell the citizens of the U. S. what he will do if Congress does not do its job.  As for borrowing above the debt ceiling, a good case can be made on the basis of these facts: 1)  Government branches are independent, 2)  the POTUS has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, 3)  the Constitution prioritises itself over Congressional laws, and 4)  the Constitution states it debts are valid.

As of July 12, 2011, it appears that there will be no agreements to increase the U.S. Government’s debt ceiling so the Republican Senate Minority Leader, Senator McConnell, came up with a proposal designed to exonerate all Republican Congressmen from  having to vote for an increased debt limit while increasing the debt limit within certain bounds.  This proposal purports to put the responsibility on the POTUS for actually raising the debt ceiling but its real effect would be to allow the POTUS to berate Congress for not doing its job.

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