Monday, February 25, 2008

Your Tax Dollars At Work

This week’s egregious earmark:

$123,000 for the International Mother’s Day Shrine in Grafton, West Virginia.

Better than the Hippie Museum in Woodstock, New York but still?


According to the RSC the five-year cost of authorizations passed by the US House Representatives so far this year (and it's only February!):

(That's billion, with a "b", in new spending friends!)

Tax cuts are fine, but let's do something about the spending too. It's pretty simple, spend less money!

H/T - Rep Jeff Flake (AZ) and the RSC


Richard said...

As Rep. Flake's Democratic opponent, I've written a defense of this earmark on my blog.

I'm sure you think people like me are jerks. But, really, I think this money is better spent at the International Mother's Day Shrine than the money expended in the stupid, needless war in Iraq -- which this amount of funds is being spent every thirty seconds.

Moms are cool!

Kristen Luidhardt said...

Unfortunately for you, you've come to the wrong place for sympathy. We're BIG FANS of Congressman Flake.

Gonzo Defenestrater said...

Ummm, can I remind you sir that the Constitution provides that the role of the federal government is to provide for the common defense in stupid, needless wars (aren't all wars stupid and needless?), not to fund International Mother's Day Shrines. Wht the heck, it's not even spending money for the the American Mother's Shrine.

I think we need to nominate this this comment for next week's "Mad Dog 20/20 Award" 'cause this guy's clearing drinking the Kool-Aid.

Richard said...

Well, I don't need or want your sympathy. And I agree: there is a lot to admire about Rep. Flake.

I admire his courageous stand against the nativist bigots in Arizona and the U.S. and his support for compehensive immigration reform.

I admire in particular his co-sponsoring the STRIVE Act and the DREAM Act which would help those here who are undocumented immigrants gain citizenship and higher education opportunities.

I admire his vote for ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which forbids employment discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans.

I admire his co-sponsoring, with Rep. Charlie Rangel of Harlem, a bill that would end our stupid embargo on Cuba and normalize our relations with that island nation.

I admire Rep. Flake's vote against further funding this immoral war in Iraq.

I admire his stands against President Bush's egregious assaults on civil liberties.

I am very glad you all admire these things too.

Richard said...

Hi Gonzo,

I've taught constitutional law, and certainly there are disputes, even among the founders, about the meaning of the Article III general welfare clause, caselaw strongly favors the Hamilton view that spending is an enumerated power that Congress may exercise independently to benefit the general welfare, such as to assist national needs in agriculture or education, provided that the spending is general in nature and does not favor any specific section of the country over any other.

For example, in United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1936), the Court held that the power to tax and spend is an independent power; that is, the General Welfare Clause gives Congress power it might not derive anywhere else.
However, the Court did limit the power to spending for matters affecting only the national welfare. The Court wrote:

“ [T]he [General Welfare] clause confers a power separate and distinct from those later enumerated, is not restricted in meaning by the grant of them, and Congress consequently has a substantive power to tax and to appropriate, limited only by the requirement that it shall be exercised to provide for the general welfare of the United States. … It results that the power of Congress to authorize expenditure of public moneys for public purposes is not limited by the direct grants of legislative power found in the Constitution. … But the adoption of the broader construction leaves the power to spend subject to limitations. …
[T]he powers of taxation and appropriation extend only to matters of national, as distinguished from local, welfare. ”

The tax imposed in Butler was nevertheless held unconstitutional as a violation of the Tenth Amendment reservation of power to the states.

Shortly after Butler, in Helvering v. Davis, 301 U.S. 619 (1937), the Supreme Court interpreted the clause even more expansively, confering upon Congress a plenary power to impose taxes and to spend money for the general welfare subject almost entirely to its own discretion. More recently, the Court has included the power to indirectly coerce the states into adopting national standards by threatening to withhold federal funds in South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203 (1987).

In the past 20 years, there hasn't been any concerted effort to reverse this expansive view of the general welfare clause.

Perhaps that will change in the future.

Gonzo, if you disagree with the current interpretation of the general welfare clause, you should probably try to get some organizations to challenge in federal court appropriations like the one for the Mother's Day Shrine.

And, by the way, I prefer iced tea to the chemically-produced Kool-Aid!

Gonzo Defenestrater said...

Whoa, Dude. Have you even read the blog?

Seriously, you are running for Congress and you take the time to comment on our blog?

Kristen, you are worth four times whatever you're getting ... Chris, Rick! maybe we should ask this guy to be a guest conspirator. I had no idea I was getting this kind of reach. This guy is running for friggin' Congress!

Can we make money off this? I could use a new blender! I mean, this is better than the Booker Noe interview! (well, maybe not that good, but close.)

Gonzo Defenestrater said...

Only in America can a guy who loves extreme cheeleading get this kind of exposure without be on a sex offender list somewhere.

fromthenationscapitol said...

Hey, Gonzo, you mean that you're not on the sex offender registry?

Drinks are on me, bro! Be well!

Gonzo Defenestrater said...

Cool. But we are either doing Manhattans at Sam & Harry's or Martinis at the Old Ebbitt ... no more of this beers at Bullfeather's crap.

see you next month and I'm holding you to it.

fromthenationscapitol said...

Done. See ya, bro.

Weird Pro Blogger Central said...

I agree. Richard, we would love to have you be a part of our merry band of dumpster divers.

Please send your email addy to me at and we will send you an invitation to contribute.

Our only rule is that we don't take cheap personal shots at anybody and we don't take take anything too seriously, and it helps if you like to haze Gonzo. The rest of us do.

Kristen Luidhardt said...


I agree... I AM worth 4 times more!

I'll be checking my mailbox for the check. :)