I’ll Take Republicans for $2000, Alex

Do you like Jeopardy? Here’s an answer; click the link to get the question:

Because it keeps the GOP coffers full.

As one commenter noted, benefits to the poor will start rolling in about 2013, so even if the president fails to win a re-election bid, not only will the GOP need to pick up nineteen Senate seats in three years, but they will have to explain why benefits promised are suddenly being pulled back.

Setting themselves up for battle, the Republicans have now lost three big contests in less than four years: control of the Congress, control of the presidential seat, and control over insurance reform. Rather than learn the lessons of defeat, and commit to a serious introspection and rebuilding, they choose to simply repeat the old mantras, only louder and with less intelligence.

There is literally no hope for health insurance reform to be withdrawn in less than three years. And after that, it will be more difficult politically to make it happen. I sure hope political pro-lifers aren’t drinking the kool-aid on this one.

I’ve made the case elsewhere that by falsely painting Mr Obama as “the worst anti-life president ever,” they clearly have no memory to the 90’s or the 70’s. They sure can’t remember their own proposal for insurance reform. Another big empty fuss is over teabags. Example:

Clearly, not everybody is working from the same memo.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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15 Responses to I’ll Take Republicans for $2000, Alex

  1. Tony says:

    they will have to explain why benefits promised are suddenly being pulled back.

    It’s simple. Because they’re unconstitutional. They are not listed under the federal government’s enumerated powers in the Constitution. We also don’t have the money to pay for them.

    • Tim says:

      I am always amused with the argument against the health care bill on the grounds we can’t afford it. We don’t have the money to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but we haven’t cut back there by any means.

  2. Tony says:

    “teabags”. I asked you nicely. Now I won’t be back. Have a nice life.

  3. Mike says:

    It’s simple. Because they’re unconstitutional. They are not listed under the federal government’s enumerated powers in the Constitution. We also don’t have the money to pay for them.

    No they’re not, and decades of constitutional law agree with me.

    Yes, we do.

  4. Harry says:

    Since Tony won’t be back, I suppose I can’t ask him where the money came from to pay for Dick and George’s Excellent Adventure in Iraq.

    I also can’t ask him if his grandparents turned down Social Security and Medicare because, by the same logic, those also were not part of the federal government’s enumerated powers in the Constitution.

    • R.C. says:

      It’s a shame you can’t ask him; in my experience, there’s a non-negligible possibility that they did exactly that.

      I know a couple of elderly folk who refused to take those handouts for precisely that reason. A relative of a friend who took that view died recently, thus ending his practice of mailing his Social Security checks back to the SSA. (There is, as it turns out, such a thing as principled objections.)

      I don’t anticipate there being anything much to receive from Social Security when I reach that age, but my intent is to likewise follow their example, and while that puts me well outside the bulk of the population, I’m not alone.

      With regard to Constitutionality, Tony was absolutely correct, so long as one is willing to take the view that words mean what their authors intended them to mean.

      It’s a matter of history that Congress and Courts prior to the 1930’s rejected such proposals as disaster aid to communities and federal funding for libraries on the basis that authority for such categories of spending were not among the enumerated powers of the Congress granted in the Constitution, and thus were prohibited to the Congress by Amendment 10.

      However, FDR’s court-packing threat extorted a separation between constitutional jurisprudence and the intent of the authors. Since then, as Mike correctly notes, “decades” (a period distinctly less than the 200+ years since 1789) of constitutional jurisprudence have largely eliminated the protections of the Enumerated Powers.

      Now I myself regard the newer mode of interpretation, in which the text of the Constitution can anything so long as it supports a ruling which will be viewed with favor by D.C. socialites and tenured red-diaper babies, to have been pretty disastrous.

      But I recognize some will disagree, even within the Catholic church, and often for respectable reasons.

      Still, I think a Catholic should be at least slightly reticent to champion in constitution studies the kind of revisionism which the Church calls culpably false in scripture studies.

      The folk who regard Obamacare (and, yes, Social Security, Medicare, et cetera) to be in accord with the intent of the authors of the U.S. Constitution are, in their disregard for the intended meaning of a text and in their wildly anachronistic alternative interpretations, in exactly the same position of intellectual dishonesty as those who interpret the Apostle John’s phrase “the disciple whom Jesus loved” to indicate that he and Our Lord were gay lovers.

      That doesn’t mean that all who think Social Security was necessary and good, or that Obamacare is necessary and good, come to that position through dishonesty.

      They may, while knowing and acknowledging that these items are unconstitutional, advocate them anyway on the basis that rule of law is less important than the assistance these programs offer to those in need. That position is perhaps tenable under some application of the Double Effect principle.

      Alternatively, they might hold that the relevant portions of the U.S. Constitution as written represented intrinsically unjust law: That God’s moral law requires that national government, rather than “the states or the people”, provide welfare-state programs. In that case they would argue that the relevant restrictions on Congressional power are null and void.

      So there are views which support these programs without being intellectually dishonest about the Constitution.

      And of course many people have never studied what the U.S.Constitution meant to its authors and the first century or more of its interpreters. Ignorance isn’t the same as dishonesty, unless it’s willful ignorance.

      So I would only label as outright liars those who do know a thing or two about legislative and jurisprudential history, yet who don’t admit that Madison and Franklin and Jefferson and even the comparatively statist Alexander Hamilton would have been shocked at the disconnect between the meaning of the text and the kinds of legislation offered by Congress.

      • Todd says:

        I would bow to others whose grasp of law is much deeper than mine.

        However, the notion that the Founding Fathers wouldn’t have imagined the constitution being amended or used or trampled in a certain way begs two questions:

        How does anyone know that a FF wouldn’t, in today’s world, side with reform?

        And is the document, as constituted in 1787, holy writ that can never be reformed? In other words, if the citizens of the US, today or in some future, in some form of national consensus, decide for example, to completely turn a constitutional principle on its ear, are we/they free to do so, if it can be done lawfully?

      • R.C. says:


        (I tried to reply to your reply, but the “Reply” link wouldn’t appear for some reason; I hope this post shows up in the correct order.)

        I think I can best answer your first question by starting with your second question:

        “And is the document, as constituted in 1787, holy writ that can never be reformed?”

        Certainly not; the Founding Fathers, envisioning the need for periodic alteration, enacted a process for Amending it or for calling new Constitutional Conventions as needed. And of course the work of 1787-1789 has been amended, and in my view most of the amendments were improvements.

        So, “if the citizens of the US, today or in some future, in some form of national consensus, decide” to make alterations to the Constitution, they may do so without violating the rule of law.

        However, you ask whether this would still work if they decide, in some future amendment, “to completely turn a constitutional principle on its ear.” I suspect you have in mind such amendments as revoking the right of Jews to vote, or of Catholics to serve in elective office, or of persons with Down’s Syndrome to live, or an amendment authorizing Congress to write laws making compulsory the purchase of some particular good or service from private companies.

        My view is that such an alteration to the Constitution would be the writing of an unjust law, a divide between lex and ius, and that civil disobedience would then become an option or possibly a requirement for a citizen.

        But I observe that the “living document, interpreted according to the needs of the times” view is by far a greater danger, because it is used so much more freely.

        After all, a Constitutional Amendment is difficult. But the view that one can interpret meanings into the Constitution which were obviously never intended gives the party in power, or more accurately the moral philosophy in power, huge immediate power unrestrained by three-fourths and two-thirds majorities.

        That’s the method of “amendment” which gave us Roe v. Wade, and the resulting homicide of so many kids, not least kids with Down’s. We may see similar anachronistic rulings re: gay marriages in future years restraining the teaching of Christian clergy, or placing obligations on the use of Christian facilities.

        Chesterton once commented that the Catholic faith liberates a man from being a prisoner of his own era; from the odd “parochialism” of his particular few decades in history. I think the difficulty of amending the Constitution in the normal lawful manner, and the resulting slowness with which it accrues alterations, serves a similar beneficial purpose. We are not at the mercy of the latest sociological trend.

        Or wouldn’t be, if the “living document” view didn’t give the unscrupulous an end-run around the amendment process!

        But notice I’m focusing more on the stabilizing benefits of a particular approach to Constitutional interpretation, than on whether that approach happens to authorize policy X or policy Y (e.g., national health care or legal abortion).

        I’m focusing on an Originalist approach to interpretation partly because I think it’s honest, and the alternative is dishonest. I think it’s lawful in the ius sense, and the alternative is unlawful.

        I but I also think that the non-Originalist view is dangerous because it gives Congress unrestrained power, and even if our favorite politicians are the ones wielding that power today, who’s to say that our least-favorite won’t wield it tomorrow?

        Given that the Constitution’s constraints on the uses of Federal power protect us from many kinds of tyranny, which of these two approaches to Constitutional interpretation is safer:

        1. An approach to the Constitution which construes Congressional and Executive power narrowly with an objective meaning; or,

        2. An approach to the Constitution which construes Congressional and Executive power broadly with a meaning that changes in response, perhaps, to what five out of nine judges think produces the most politically desirable outcome of a particular case.

        For my money, I’ll take Option 1. I think Option 2 makes the Court a political football and grants Congress the power to rewrite society at levels far beyond their competency, such as it is, with consequences far beyond their foresight, such as it is.

        And that, by the way, brings us back to your first question: “How does anyone know that a FF wouldn’t, in today’s world, side with reform?”

        Well, first, from their letters, from the Federalist papers, from their Congressional debates and speeches, from the things they supported and the things they railed against. That’s how we know that their opinions then can’t be reconciled with the revisionist interpretations of their words in existence now.

        But a broader interpretation of your question might ask, “How do we know that they might not, after exposure to modern society, decide their 1789 views were incorrect and that they should have written the Constitution in such a way as to permit welfare-state programs?”

        Well, we don’t. But in that case I would fall back on two things:

        1. They would still have held that their words should be followed as law: That those words should be amended, and that the desired policies should be put in place only after the amendment process was complete.

        2. Natural Law, and the view that a concentration of fallen men ought not be granted too much unrestrained power, informed their original text. To arrive at a new view, one would have to abandon that whole philosophical framework, much of which is taught by the Catholic Church.

        So I suppose that had Franklin and Madison been born in 1950 and danced naked at Woodstock, the Constitution would have been very different: But it would have been less Catholic, and thus less good.

        Had they been born in the 18th century and only seen the 20th, I doubt they’d have reconsidered much of their work, except perhaps to put in a proviso about interpretation.

        And even then, they’d have wished their descendants to amend the Constitution by amending it, not by saying absurd claims about what they’d really meant all along.

      • Harry says:

        Don’t be too impressed with his grasp of law. The guy reads neo-con websites and regurgitates.

        His long-winded responses are utter nonsense, and one needs only to read the Founding Father’s “Mission Statement” contained in the preamble to know that.

      • R.C. says:

        Now, Harry.

        Don’t you know that, even if my web surfing identified me as a neocon (as opposed to, say, a paleocon, a social conservative, a classical liberal, a libertarian, an anarcho-capitalist, a constitutionalist, an objectivist, or some other variation on the small-government theme), that fact alone wouldn’t prevent me from being correct in the kinds of objective, verifiable statements I made?

        Your statement is a textbook usage of the ad hominem fallacy, though. (Really, a classic example. May I quote you on it?)

        But you did make something like an argument, there, citing the preamble. What portion of it would you regard as falsifying my statements about the Founding Fathers?

        I hope you’re not going for “general welfare”: Terms can be used in different ways in different eras, you know: David Lloyd George in the U.K. was the first to pair it with government provision of the type you have in mind: But that was the early 1900’s.

        (And even had the Founders used the term that way, one would be stuck, in reading the Preamble, with explaining the difference between “providing for” the common defense, on the one hand, and merely “promoting” the general welfare, on the other. That’s a usage which hasn’t changed: It would indicate a sort of indirect encouragement of the latter item, such as laws conducive, but that the former item would actually be funded from the public purse.)

        So you have anachronisms in your reading of the Preamble. But a review of the history of the Bill of Rights would also be instructive, here.

        You do know, don’t you, that the Bill of Rights was nearly not passed at all, because, as a matter of Constitutional interpretation, the Framers mostly felt that it would be redundant, since establishing a religion or violating freedom of the press were impossible anyway since power to do so was not granted in Article I? Yes, that really was the argument: “Who needs a Bill of Rights to prevent the government from doing what we never gave it the power to do?”

        And of course Amendment 10 explains where sovereignty lies in the opinion of the Founders. Read the text: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” In short, the people are the sovereigns; they may delegate power to the states, which may then delegate it to the Federal government, or not; or they may delegate power directly to the Federal government as an employer grants authority to his employee, or not. The only approved vehicle for such delegation is the U.S. Constitution. Any authority not delegated therein, the Federal government does not have.

        If this is all neocon fantasy, then I suppose you could call the writings of the Founding Fathers the 18th-century equivalent of a neocon blog. But since they warned against “foreign entanglements,” I don’t think it’s a very accurate statement: Neoconservatives tend more towards, uh, assertive foreign policy.

        On the other hand, the two Barbary Wars pitted the Founders, in their autumn years, up against Islamic jihadists. So perhaps you have a point there: Thomas Jefferson, benighted Zionist Bushophile!

        I am sorry that my posts are long. I think the way I write. Call it a personality quirk, or a flaw, if you like.

        But if my reply to your post seems disproportionate, consider: A fertilizer truck may tip over on the highway in mere moments, but it takes hours to clean up.

      • R.C. says:

        Darn it.

        Darn it, darn it, darn it.

        It’s 1:30 AM, and the Holy Spirit will not let me go to sleep.

        *deep breath*

        Harry, I apologize. My reply to you got rude, especially that parting shot. I snarked back at you, when I was supposed to turn the other cheek, give a soft answer, and generally not return insult for insult.

        I apologize. I should have left it alone. Please forgive my response.

      • Todd says:


        No problem on my part, man. We all stumble a bit.

        The problem today as far as many of us see it is that too much power lies not in the federal government but in its alternative, large corporations.

        And more than that, corporations who view themselves as above the law.

        Getting to the root of the neocon argument is noting they miss the boat. The American problem is not the trampling of the Constitution, but the hermeneutic of lawlessness we find in the favorite child of conservatism: business.

  5. Liam says:

    Well, let’s not talk about the most socialized medicine of all in the grand ol’ USA: veteran’s benefits.

  6. David D. says:

    Veterans’ benefits predate the Constitution though these were obviously limited by today’s standards.

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