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Cost may be much more expensive than originally assumed

By JACK MCHUGH

The Foundation for Government Accountability has just published areport on state enrollments under the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Here’s what the authors say about Michigan:

When Republican Governor Rick Snyder lobbied the Michigan legislature to adopt his Obamacare Medicaid expansion plan, he too sold it on the promise of low and predictable enrollment. His office predicted no more than 477,000 able-bodied adults would ever sign up, with 323,000 signing up in the first year.

But more able-bodied adults enrolled in ObamaCare expansion in the first three months than the state thought would sign up during the entire year. Despite the fact that Michigan did not expand Medicaid eligibility until April, nearly 508,000 adults signed up by the end of 2014, far more than the state thought would ever enroll. Enrollment continues to climb, with nearly 582,000 able-bodied adults signing up by April 2015.

Like Michigan, many states accepted the Medicaid expansion because lawmakers were afraid to stand between their local hospital cartels and hundreds of millions of dollars in “free” federal money (statewide more than $3 billion annually for Michigan).

But starting in 2020 Michigan will have to pick up 10 percent of the total cost. The newly compiled figures suggest that this may cost a lot more than members of the House and Senate anticipated when they voted to take the money.

In 2013 the Senate Fiscal Agency, using similar assumptions to those of the Snyder administration, projected that the state would have to come up with $385 million in 2021 to cover its share. Supposedly this would be partially offset by savings realized from offloading some mental health and prisoner health care costs onto the federal budget, but given the actual enrollment figures reported by FGA, those plans may need to be revised.

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U.S. has had a record 27 million people working 35 or fewer hours a week the past five years

By TOM GANTERT

Part-time employment in the U.S. has remained steady at a record-level 27 million jobs for the last five years, raising questions about how much of a role Obamacare has played in the rise of part-time workers.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, was signed into law March 23, 2010 by President Barack Obama. The employer mandate portion of the act states that businesses have to offer health insurance to anyone working 30 or more hours a week.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) considers part-time work to be 35 hours or less.

From 1994 to 2002, the number of part-time jobs (35 hours or less) in the U.S. stayed relatively flat at about 23 million-plus. From 2003 to 2007, the number of part-time jobs hovered in the 24 million-plus range. The number of part-time jobs went up from roughly 25 million at the start of 2008 until it reached 27.5 million by the end of 2010, a number that has held steady since then.

However, the full implementation of the Obamacare employer mandate has been delayed. The employer mandate only takes effect this year, and even then, only for businesses with 100 or more employees. Those employers need to offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent of their full-time employees in 2016. The mandate goes into effect for employers with 50 to 99 employees in 2016.

In January 2015, the National Federation of Independent Business called for legislation to repeal the Obamacare 30-hour-work-week provision.

“One of the more easily foreseeable consequences of the Affordable Care Act is the pressure it imposes on small firms to reduce or avoid adding full-time positions,” said NFIB President and CEO Dan Danner in a news release.

Mike Tanner, a senior fellow for the Cato Institute who has written two books about Obamacare, said there was no proof that Obamacare was sparking the increase in part-time hires, especially since the full implementation of the employer mandate has been delayed until 2016.

“But surveys and anecdotal evidence do suggest that employers have shifted workers from full to part time or hired more part-time workers, to escape the Obamacare mandate,” Tanner said in an email. “Employers may be making hiring decisions in anticipation of its future impact, but we should be careful about overstating current impact.”

Don Grimes, a University of Michigan economist, said since the start of 2010, the number of part-time workers has remained flat and the number of full-time workers has grown. Grimes said he didn’t think Obamacare had much to do with the rise of part-time work.

“This is similar to the path that you see at the end of the 1991 and 2001 recessions,” Grimes said in an email. “What I find most interesting is that there never seems to be a decline in the number of part-time workers, it is either growing, most pronounced during the recent recession, or flat — while the number of full-time workers moves with the business cycle. The long-term trend seems to be toward a greater reliance on part-time work, which is probably not a good thing for most workers.”

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57900 Van Dyke, Washington Twp.

****This event is free and open to the public****

Take Back your power 

Take Back Your Power

The award-winning documentary Take Back Your Power uncovers the shocking story behind why hundreds of local governments are standing against the multi-billion dollar rollout of ‘smart’ utility meters. Take a journey of revelation, examining evidence of in-home privacy invasions, systemic over-billing, extortion, health & environmental harm, fires and unprecedented hacking vulnerability. And be inspired by emerging solutions. With compelling insight from whistleblowers, government agents, lawyers, doctors, researchers and environmentalists, Take Back Your Power investigates the claimed benefits and emerging risks of a profit-based global initiative that seeks to change the way we live. What you’ll discover will surprise, unsettle and ultimately empower you.    http://www.takebackyourpower.net

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by Curtis Dubay /

Ever since President Obama started running for president in 2007, there has been a debate about how much tax rich Americans pay and whether they should pay more.

In that ongoing debate, Paul Krugman and Matt Yglesias criticized the chart below because, according to them, it does not give a complete picture of the tax burden borne by Americans because it only includes the federal income

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Since the rich pay a higher share of federal income taxes than of total federal taxes, they argued we were misleading by making it look like the rich pay a higher share of taxes than they do.

We responded to them here and here.

In those responses, we showed we weren’t being misleading because we make plain the chart includes only federal income tax. Furthermore, examining the federal income tax makes sense because President Obama has long wanted to raise it on the rich.

We also agreed that it made sense to look at the total federal tax burden, in addition to federal income taxes, to offer additional context to the debate.

In that spirit, here is a new chart that shows the burden of all federal taxes, including individual income, corporate income, payroll, excise and other miscellaneous taxes:

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It still shows the same story: Top earners pay a disproportionately large share of the federal tax burden.

The top 10 percent pays 53.3 percent of all federal taxes. When looking at just federal income taxes, they pay 68 percent of the burden.

The top 1 percent pays 24 percent of all federal taxes compared to 35 percent of all federal income taxes.

The data for total federal taxes comes from the Congressional Budget Office. The data for federal income taxes comes from the IRS. Heritage has not altered the data from either in any way, except to combine income categories in the Congressional Budget Office data.

The respective sources use different breakpoints for income categories. They also use different definitions of income. The Congressional Budget Office’s is broader because it is market income, which includes more government transfer payments than the IRS’s use of Adjusted Gross Income. Nevertheless, comparing them is still a useful way to understand who pays how much federal tax.

The top 10 percent and top 1 percent pay smaller shares of the tax burden when looking at total federal taxes than federal income taxes because the payroll tax, which accounts for more than a third of all federal tax receipts, is more evenly distributed than the income tax. But the corporate tax tempers that effect because it falls mostly (75 percent according to Congressional Budget Office) on shareholders, most of whom earn higher incomes, although not all of them.

Neither chart makes a judgment on whether those top earners pay too much or if they should pay more. The purpose of the original chart and this one is simply to give the American people facts.

Given the information in the charts, people will have differing opinions as to how the tax burden on the rich should change, or whether it should change at all. But at least they will know the starting point from which they are changing the distribution of the tax burden, instead of thinking that high earners are not paying a large share of the tax burden, as some have led them to believe in recent years.

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by Personal Liberty News Desk

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has signed into law historic legislation that will abolish civil asset forfeiture and help put an end to policing for profit in the state.

New Mexico’s House Bill 560, which takes effect in July, will require law enforcement to secure a conviction or guilty plea before seizing a suspect’s property. Current civil forfeiture laws throughout the country allow law enforcement to take cash, cars, homes and other property from people if they merely suspect that the property was tied to a crime.

As we have previously explained:

Under established civil forfeiture laws, a person can lose his money and/or his property — most often a vehicle or real estate — if he can’t prove in civil court that his belongings have not been used in the commission of a drug crime or that custody of his belongings has not, at some time in the past, passed through the hands of a person accused of a drug crime. Under the former civil forfeiture law, a person does not have to be accused of a crime in order for the State to claim his property. Worse, a person can be acquitted of a drug crime in criminal court — yet still lose his belongings to the State under civil forfeiture provisions.

Martinez said that she rejects the “cynical” term policing for profit, but supports the anti-civil forfeiture legislation.

“As an attorney and career prosecutor, I understand how important it is that we ensure safeguards are in place to protect our constitutional rights” the governor said in a statement. “On balance, the changes made by this legislation improve the transparency and accountability of the forfeiture process and provide further protections to innocent property owners.”

Minnesota lawmakers passed a similar law last year and efforts are underway to change civil forfeiture practices at the federal level.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), security contractors frisk Honduran immigration detainees deporting them on a flight to San Pedro Sula, Honduras on February 28, 2013 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

by RACHEL STOLTZFOOS

Obama’s chief immigration officer will testify this week before Congress about the sharp drop in deportations of illegal immigrants in recent years.

Sarah Saldaña, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is expected to attribute the plummeting numbers to the surge of children at the border and uncooperative local and foreign governments.

Only 102,000 criminal illegal immigrants identified and apprehended by ICE were deported in Fiscal Year 2014, which is an 18 percent drop, according to a statement announcing the hearing. And the number of arrests of criminal illegal immigrants is down by 35 percent from this time last year. (RELATED: Obama’s Deputies Deported Only 0.2 Percent Of 11.7 Million Illegals In 2013)

Almost 800 personnel and other resources were reallocated last year to deal with the huge influx of Central American children crossing the border, she says in prepared testimony obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. The agency transferred nearly 60,000 children to DHS custody, and had to build three new family detention centers, according to immigration law, to detain families apprehended at the border.

Some of those resources were taken from a program that disrupts smugglers by apprehending illegals at one part of the Mexican border and deporting them at a different part of the border. As a result, that program suffered, Saldana will testify.

Adding to the draw on resources posed by the surge is the difficulty of deporting illegal immigrants to countries other than Mexico. It’s more expensive and requires the cooperation of foreign countries, who often fail to provide the necessary travel documents. And in some cases, ICE is forced to release those illegal immigrants who aren’t given documents.

Saldana will also discuss the problem posed by cities who refuse to cooperate with ICE. These so-called “sanctuary” cities choose to release convicted illegal immigrants when their jail or prison sentence ends, rather than turn them over to the custody of ICE for deportation as requested.

“There are more than 200 jurisdictions, including some of the largest in the country,” her prepared statement asserts. From January 2014 to March 2015, cities ignored 15,000 of these requests from ICE, according to the Judiciary Committee statement.

“While the reasons for this may vary … in certain circumstances we believe such a lack of cooperation may increase the risk that dangerous criminals are returned to the streets, putting the public and our officers at greater risk,” Saldana’s statement says.

Her agency itself released more than 65,000 criminal illegal aliens in 2013 and 2014 in compliance with immigration law, and to ensure detention space for other efforts. (RELATED: Obama Deputies Free 30,682 Foreign Criminals)

“Over the past six years, President Obama has steadily dismantled the interior enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws,” committee chairman Bob Goodlatte said in a statement Monday. “Under the Obama Administration’s watch, the apprehension, detention, and removal of unlawful and criminal aliens has dramatically declined.”

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By TOM GANTERT

General fund contributes more and more to retiree costs

Payments by the state of Michigan to cover the costs of its school employee retirement system have more than quintupled in just the past three years, and are approaching $1 billion in the current year.

In the 2011-12 fiscal year, the state capped the amount that individual school districts must pay to the Michigan Public Schools Employees’ Retirement System (MPSERS) and kicked in $155 million toward the annual cost of the system, which currently has an unfunded liability of $25.8 billion. State payments have increased since, reaching $796 million this year, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency.

The stress the system is placing on school districts can be seen in one of the recommendations of the “Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren.” The group says the state should exempt the Detroit school district from its share of these costs, which is estimated at around $100 million this year. Coalition co-chair John Rakolta has called these committments “a budget killer.”

“It’s a society killer,” said Rakolta, the CEO of Walbridge construction. “Society can’t afford them anymore. Who gets penalized? Kids. … These kids are being penalized for all the retired teachers. This is on a statewide basis, not just Detroit.”

Such a move would shift the costs from the Detroit district to other school districts and statewide taxpayers. Rakolta said the coalition did feel some pressure to not make any mention of the retirement system in its proposal, and it never considered calling for the state to replace the defined-benefit pension with a 401(k)-type defined-contribution plan for new employees.

But Detroit is hardly the only district feeling the pinch from pension obligations, and there are some indications that the costs are causing other public school officials to begin thinking about alternatives.

Christine Stead, an Ann Arbor school board member, said switching to a 401(k)-type plan could be done, but only if teachers’ compensation were increased.

“Moving to a defined contribution retirement benefit model makes sense if we address the compensation model in a comprehensive manner,” Stead said in an email. “Moving toward private market models should include retirement and compensation. We often hear that we need to run our schools more like a business. Businesses pay competitive wages, control their revenue and costs and contribute to retirement savings plans, often in the form of a 401(k) savings account.”

John Ellsworth, a high school teacher at Grand Ledge Public Schools, said he wants the defined-benefit annual pension plan that he signed up for when he became a teacher. He also said the entire compensation of teachers should be considered if there were any switches required under a reformed pension system.

“I felt called to be a teacher, and I accepted the financial deal: moderate salary, good benefits, and a secure retirement,” Ellsworth said in an email. “In Michigan, that financial deal is eroding. The moderate salary is deteriorating (especially for new teachers). Instead of being provided good benefits, teachers are now contributing more and more to maintain okay benefits (and thus deteriorating take-home pay even more). The secure retirement is now under assault too. Instead of the retirement benefit being something that was earned, it often is called a ‘legacy cost.’ So, when you ask what would it take for teachers to sign off on switching to a defined-contribution plan, I have to look at the entire financial deal.”

“Personally, I’m not interested in switching; I made my career and life choices based on the financial deal that existed. I still bristle with the negative changes that have already happened to that financial deal. I want my secure defined-benefit retirement because that was part of the financial deal. If Michigan wants to attract the best and the brightest into the field of education, then the financial deal must be good enough to do so. I think looking at retirement in isolation will not lead to teachers signing off on a switch. Besides, teachers like security, routine, and independence; teachers would be more uncomfortable having to rely on the stock market for their retirement,” Ellsworth said.

James Perialas, a teacher and president of the Roscommon Teachers Association, said he understood that defined benefit retirement programs are unsustainable but said that the state should continue them since that is what was promised.

“If you think about it, they either have to run like a ‘ponzi’ scheme where new employees finance the old ones or they have to be supported (subsidized) by the taxpayers,” Perialas said in an email. “It we were starting from scratch, in today’s economic climate, pensions would never have been created. But, because they were and are a ‘promise’ and in someways like a long-term contract, as a teacher currently under the system, I want what’s coming to me.”

Perialas said teacher have made retirement plans based on being told they would have a lifetime pension.

“Plans have been made for my retirement. I don’t put nearly as much in to a 403(b) as my private sector friends have. They have no pension, so therefore, they save more, or have employer contributions into a 401(k),” he said. The state should “bite the bullet” and continue to pay pensioners what has been promised until “the last one is standing,” Perialas said. “I want nothing less than what was promised.”

None of the reform proposals to date, including one that passed the Michigan Senate in 2012, would require current employees to switch to a defined contribution system. They all apply to new employees only.

 

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By Hans von Spakovsky 

In an order issued late Tuesday, federal district court Judge Andrew Hanen refused to lift the preliminary injunction he had previously issued stopping the implementation of the immigration amnesty plan announced by President Obama last November.

And in a second order, an obviously infuriated Judge Hanen said that the “attorneys for the Government misrepresented the facts” to the court.

Judge Hanen issued his injunction on Feb. 16 in the lawsuit filed by 26 states in a Texas federal court. On Feb. 23, the Justice Department filed a motion asking Hanen to stay his injunction pending an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On March 3, the Justice Department filed an “Advisory” with Hanen, informing him that between Nov. 20, when the president announced his new plan, and Feb. 16, when the injunction was issued, the Department of Homeland Security had begun implementing part of the president’s plan by issuing three-year deferrals to over 100,000 illegal aliens.

Justice Department Had Said Obama’s Immigration Plan Hadn’t Been Implemented

 This despite the fact that the Justice Department had assured Judge Hanen on numerous occasions—both in court and in written pleadings—that no part of the president’s plan would be implemented until late February. In the Advisory, the Justice Department did not admit it had misled the court; it was just trying to clear up any “confusion” that might have occurred.

Judge Hanen obviously saw things differently.

In Tuesday night’s order on the injunction, Hanen said that he remained “convinced” that his original findings and rulings were correct and that for a number of reasons, “the decisions reached previously by this Court have been reinforced.”

For example, Hanen had based his injunction in part on the “abdication” by the administration of its duty to enforce federal immigration law. Hanen pointed out that “recent actions taken by the Government confirm that it has abdicated enforcement.”

U.S. Border Patrol agent Joe Gutierrez. (Photo: Paul Hennessy/Polaris/Newscom)

One of those actions cited by Hanen was Obama’s reaction at a town hall meeting held after the injunction was issued to an individual upset over a deportation order. Obama said that any Border Patrol agents or Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials who didn’t follow his new immigration plan that halts deportations against those who qualify under his new plan would be punished: if “they don’t follow the policy, there are going to be consequences to it.”

According to Hanen, Obama’s message to federal law enforcement officials and the nation “is clear.” First, federal immigration laws that “officials are charged with enforcing, are not to be enforced when those laws conflict” with the president’s plan.  Second, “the criteria set out in [the president’s plan] are mandatory.” Third, if Department of Homeland Security officials “fail to follow the specified criteria, there will be consequences for this failure—just as there would be consequences if they were in the military and disobeyed an order from the Commander in Chief.”

In summary, “the chief executive has ordered that the laws requiring removal of illegal immigrants that conflict with [the president’s plan] are not to be enforced, and that anyone who attempts to do so will be punished.”

Hanen also dismissed the government’s claim that it would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not lifted. He concluded that “there is no pressing, emergent need for this program” and “the scales of justice greatly favor the States.”

Justice Department Lawyers Showed ‘Distinct Lack of Candor’

In the second order over the Advisory filed with the court, Judge Hanen presented a scathing analysis of the Justice Department’s misbehavior in misleading him over the implementation of the president’s amnesty plan:

This Court expects all parties, including the Government of the United States, to act in a forthright manner and not hide behind deceptive representations and half-truths. That is why, whatever the motive for the Government’s actions in this matter, the Court is extremely troubled by the multiple representations made by the Government’s counsel—both in writing and orally—that no action would be taken … until February 18, 2015.

Hanen said the representations made by the Justice Department lawyers “indicates a distinct lack of candor.”

The Justice Department lawyers may even be in trouble for their delay in telling Hanen about this problem: “the explanation by Defendants’ counsel for their conduct after the fact is even more troublesome for the Court.”

The Department told Hanen they were unaware there was a problem until they read his Feb. 16 injunction order, and that they then took “prompt” remedial action to inform the court, but Hanen said that “assertion is belied by the facts.” The Advisory was not filed until March 3, so for two weeks after the Feb. 16 injunction order, “the Government did nothing to inform the Court of the 108,081” deferrals that had been issued.

Instead, on Feb. 23, the government filed its “Motion to Stay” the injunction with Hanen, saying absolutely nothing in that motion about this problem. Instead, “mysteriously, what was included” in the Justice Department’s motion was a request that Hanen issue a decision by Feb. 25, within two days:

If this Court had ruled according to the Government’s requested schedule, it would have ruled without the Court or the States knowing that the Government had granted 108,081 applications … despite its multiple representations to the contrary … Yet they stood silent. Even worse, they urged this Court to rule before disclosing that the Government had already issued 108,081 three-year renewals … despite their statement to the contrary.

Hanen goes after the Justice Department lawyers even harder, especially their claims that they acted “promptly” to clear up any “confusion” they may have caused: “But the facts clearly show these statements to be disingenuous. The Government did anything but act ‘promptly’ to clarify the Government-created ‘confusion.’”

Judge: Justice Department Lawyers Didn’t Follow Professional Ethics

Hanen cites Section 3.3 of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the corresponding section of the Texas Rules, which require complete candor by a lawyer in his or her dealings with a court:

Fabrications, misstatements, half-truths, artful omissions, and the failure to correct misstatements may be acceptable, albeit lamentable, in other aspects of life; but in the courtroom, when an attorney knows that both the Court and the other side are relying on complete frankness, such conduct is unacceptable.

Because of the government’s misconduct, Judge Hanen considered striking their pleadings, and indicated that “under different circumstances,” he might “very well do so.” But he didn’t because, he said, that would effectively end the case.

The border wall runs several miles through a rural area east of Brownsville. (Photo: Bob Daemmrich/Newscom)

Because the issues at stake “have national significance and deserve to be fully considered on the merits,” Hanen concluded that “the ends of justice would not be served by striking pleadings in this case.” He warned the Justice Department, though, that his decision “does not bar such a sanction in the future should the facts and law warrant that action” and that his decision does not leave him “impotent to fashion an appropriate remedy” for the government’s misconduct.

In addition to granting the states’ request for early discovery, Hanen ordered the Justice Department to produce “any and all drafts of the March 3, 2015 Advisory” including all “metadata and all other tangible items that indicate when each draft of the document was written and/or edited or revised” as well as the names of any person who knew about the Advisory or the Department of Homeland Security activity, or reviewed it, and the date that occurred. He ordered that no documents, emails, computer records, hard drives or servers that have any information about this Advisory be “destroyed or erased.” And he gave the Justice Department only until April 21 to supply all of this information.

That is a tall order, but Judge Hanen is clearly determined to find out who knew about this deception, and may well consider personally sanctioning those lawyers or other officials who were involved once he gets that information.

This is another big loss for the government and gives the states the ability to question the credibility of the government in the appeal now pending. The Justice Department will go into the upcoming hearing before the Fifth Circuit with what the legal profession calls “unclean hands,” which is when lawyers engage in professional and ethical misconduct. That certainly will not help the government win its case.

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by Hans von Spakovsky 

Sen. Mike Lee has written a fascinating book about the six most important “lost” provisions of the U.S. Constitution, and how they need to be “restored.”

According to Lee, a Republican who represents Utah, that is the key to reinvigorating our country and getting rid of “what the founding generation would never have ratified and what subsequent generations have never endorsed—a federal government of unlimited power.”

This is not the type of book we often get from Washington political types, who tend to write superficial books intended to enhance their future office desires.

But then, Mike Lee is not your usual Washington politico: he is a former Supreme Court clerk for Justice Samuel Alito, an appellate lawyer well-experienced in fundamental constitutional issues. He ran for office because he was tired of seeing members of Congress fostering a huge increase in the administrative state by delegating their legislative powers “to federal bureaucrats unelected and unaccountable to the American people.”

Lee has obviously thought long and hard about the problems we are experiencing today with an out-of-control, bloated federal government and an overregulated, overburdened American economy.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

In “Our Lost Constitution,” he explains why these problems are the direct result of how the courts, Congress and the executive branch have minimized or ignored what he considers to be the most important provisions in the Constitution that limit the size, scope and power of the federal government.

Lee has a family history that grounds him in his constitutional analysis: his father was Rex E. Lee, the 37th Solicitor General of the United States under President Ronald Reagan and the founding dean of Brigham Young University’s law school. When he was 10 years old, Lee “routinely” accompanied his father to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lee says he learned how to be an appellate lawyer early on, not just because he attended Supreme Court arguments where he watched as “the black-robed justices fired questions” at his father, but because whenever he disagreed with his parents’ decisions on chores or allowances, “they would say, ‘Make your case. You’re probably not going to win, but we’ll listen.’” So he started his legal career at a very early age.

>>> Read Our Exclusive Excerpt from Lee’s “Our Lost Constitution” 

Lee even got his first experience of the political heat generated by constitutional fights when pro-abortion protestors showed up at his family’s home in Falls Church, Va., while his parents were out shopping with three of his sisters. They were angry about the arguments that General Lee was presenting to the Supreme Court in City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health. All of these experiences helped start Lee’s “lifelong love of the Constitution” and his “growing frustration with legislators, judges, and presidents who ignore and distort it.”

The five essential but “forgotten” provisions of the Constitution—and the sixth provision that has been vastly expanded—that Lee discusses are:

  • The Origination Clause—“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”
  • The Legislative Powers Clause—“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
  • The Establishment Clause—“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
  • The Fourth Amendment—“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
  • The Tenth Amendment—“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.”
  • The “inflated” Commerce Clause—“The Congress shall have Power … to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

For anyone who thinks this book must be a boring legal treatise, think again.

Lee starts each chapter with a fascinating, historical story about how and why each particular provision was created by the delegates to the Philadelphia convention in 1787. This is a book that any layman will easily understand, because Lee put his considerable skills as a lawyer to work not only telling the stories of the convention and the vigorous debates between James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and a host of other famous (and not so famous) early Americans, but explaining the historical Supreme Court decisions that interpreted (or more often misinterpreted) these essential parts of the Constitution, including decisions within the past few years, such as the Obamacare case.

Photo: Newscom

Given the current fervor over the state religious freedom laws in Indiana and Arkansas, Lee’s chapter on the forgotten Establishment Clause is particularly interesting and timely. Chapter 4 is entitled “The Supreme Court’s Klansman” and tells the disturbing story of how Hugo Black, a member of the Klu Klux Klan, became a justice in 1937. Black built his career on his successful defense of a Southern racist who murdered a Catholic priest in 1921 for marrying the racist’s daughter to a Puerto Rican.

According to Lee, Black was a virulent anti-Catholic who used his position on the Supreme Court to push a distorted interpretation of the Establishment Clause that was intended to destroy Catholic schools. Black’s legal skills, however, were so mediocre that Justice Harlan Stone told a reporter on background that Black “made blunders which have shocked his colleagues.” Yet, according to Lee, it is Black’s view of the Establishment Clause that has prevailed and become the dominant view over the past eight decades.

The final four chapters of “The Lost Constitution” detail Lee’s recommendations on how the Constitution can be reclaimed through the courts, legislation and the power of the purse. For example, he recommends passage of the REINS Act, which would require all regulations with an economic impact over $100 million to be enacted into law by Congress before they can take effect.

Although Lee says that “we have plenty of reasons to be concerned about our republic’s state,” he remains “optimistic about its fate.” But “the Constitution has taken a beating over the years, and restoring it is a daunting endeavor.” He urges Americans to “demand that our elected officials respect” the Constitution and its essential provisions, and that we “hold each of those officials accountable for disregarding them.”

Personal Libert Digest New

by Chip Wood

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In “‘Birth tourism’ is another immigration scam,” I discussed “a very twisted interpretation of the 14th Amendment” that has led to the insane policy of granting U.S. citizenship to any babies who are born in this country — even if their mothers are illegal immigrants who sneaked across our border a few hours before they were born.

Today, I want to raise an issue that is even more controversial — and is almost never part of this discussion. And that is the possibility that the 14th Amendment was never legally adopted in the first place.

Now, before you denounce this suggestion as the feverish ravings of a right-wing lunatic, bear with me for a few moments as I share some history with you — history that has been carefully suppressed from all of the conventional history books.

Let me begin by stating something you may have never considered: The Southern states that formed the Confederacy never the left the union. Yes, they certainly tried to do so. Many people, then and now, think they had every legal and moral right to secede. But Abraham Lincoln refused to recognize the Confederacy as a separate, legitimate government. And the country fought a terrible war over the issue.

When the North won, Lincoln said he was ready to welcome the South back “with malice toward none.” But if the Southern states never left the Union, then as soon as hostilities ended, those states and their citizens were entitled to all of the promises and protections of the U.S. Constitution.

Remember, the Constitution guarantees every state “a republican form of government.” So when the war ended, all of the states that had comprised the Confederacy formed new state governments, including both branches of their state legislatures.

When the federal Congress approved the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery, and submitted it to the states, it was promptly ratified by most of the states that had comprised the Confederacy. Thus, it became part of the Constitution.

But that wasn’t enough for the Radical Republicans, as they were called, who controlled the federal government. They were determined to punish the South. They certainly didn’t want the Southern states sending people to Congress who would oppose their plans for Reconstruction. So they proposed the 14th Amendment.

There is some question whether that amendment was actually approved by two-thirds of the members of both branches of Congress, as the Constitution requires. In fact, several contemporaries back in 1878 said it was not. Nevertheless, the Radical Republican majority passed a resolution saying it had been and submitted it to the states.

Ah, but this time, six states that had approved the 13th Amendment refused to approve the 14th. The legislatures of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina all said “no!” (So too, incidentally, did New Jersey and Ohio.)

The Radicals in Washington were furious. They promptly approved a series of bills, called the Reconstruction Acts, that divided the former Confederacy into 10 military districts. The legislatures of each state were forcibly dismissed and replaced by political hacks appointed by the federal army of occupation. Seven of these military-controlled bodies then did as they were told and “ratified” the 14th Amendment.

But these dictatorial regimes weren’t “the republican form of government” that the Constitution guarantees each state. They most emphatically did not represent the wishes or the will of the citizens they ruled. Our Founding Fathers wouldn’t have agreed for a second that any “vote” by these bodies could authorize a change to the Constitution.

And that is why a handful of very brave historians insist that the 14thAmendment was never legally ratified.

By the way, there is a lot more involved here than citizenship for a few million children of illegal immigrants. The 14th Amendment has been used by the Supreme Court as the legal justification for banning prayers in public schools, authorizing abortion on demand, requiring the forced busing of children and scores of other usurpations of power by the federal government.

As I said when I first wrote about this subject many years ago, I can understand why those who benefit from today’s Goliath government want to keep this issue swept under the heaviest rug they can find.

But where have the conservative and libertarian talk shows, think tanks, advocacy groups and tax-free foundations been for the past 50 years? Have any of them written about this issue, filed lawsuits in the courts raising it or made even a peep of protest about what happened?

If they have, I’m not familiar with it. If you know otherwise, please let tell me. Because I don’t see how we will ever restore the Constitution without exposing the deceit that led to this incredible abuse.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood