Saturday, March 21, 2009

There Ought To Be A Law

We've probably all said at one time or another that there ought to be a law, usually against some act of stupidity we've just witnessed, but few of us actually meant it. Moments of frustration are usually accompanied by strong reactions that we end up regretting later.

So it is when we allow class envy to cloud our judgment that we clamor for a quick remedy that will make us feel vindicated, albeit temporarily. But as congress has listened to the shrill cries from people who have demanded that others be prevented by law from offending them, all of us - even the plaintiffs - have lost more and more of our liberty. Lest those who have caused this ripple effect forget, liberty was attained through a very violent process; once it is gone, it is likely not to return except through the same means. It's a classic case of being careful what you wish for.

The AIG fiasco is one such illustration of the dangers of an overreaching government, for we've just witnessed a blatant violation of our constitution by the very people who have sworn an oath to uphold the tenets of that cherished document. The House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 1586 which is a bill to tax AIG executive's bonuses at 90%. Many people, outraged by the prospect of these executives receiving bonuses at all, are applauding this act and praising congress for "having the courage" to commit it. Many people also are not aware that congress is prohibited from this type of bill of attainder by the constitution.

(Article One, Section 9). "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed." A bill of attainder is a legislative act declaring the guilt of an individual or a group of persons and punishing them. Only the courts can determine whether a person has violated a criminal statute. An ex post facto law declares an act illegal after it has been committed, or increased the punishment for an offense already committed.

Two paragraphs from GOP.GOV explain how this happened, and the insulting way that democrats have feigned their surprise and outrage before the American public:
The conference committee also stripped a Senate-passed provision from H.R. 1, which would have completely prevented the $165 million in AIG bonuses. The conference committee removed an amendment sponsored by Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) that would have forced any TARP recipient to repay any bonus paid in excess of $100,000, or face a 35% excise tax on any TARP funds that were not immediately paid back to the Treasury. The amendment was accepted in the Senate by voice vote. However, the Snowe-Wyden amendment was taken out before the final vote. Despite their strong rhetoric, Democrats in Congress made the AIG bonus payments possible.

While Democrats have facilitated the payment of bonuses to employees of companies that have received taxpayer assistance, Republicans have attempted to enact legislation that would restrict TARP recipients from paying excessive bonuses and protect taxpayer money. On March 18, 2009, House Republicans attempted to offer legislation on the floor that would have required Treasury to recoup the AIG bonuses and would have denied AIG any additional TARP funds until the bonuses were returned in full. The Democrat majority blocked consideration of the Republican proposal. Instead, Democrats will offer a constitutionally questionable 90% tax on some bonus recipients.

Our elected officials are supposed to work in our interests and above all, perform their duties while upholding their oaths. This latest outrage, however, proves that they are not what they appear to be. If only more people would stop and think before they demand action. If only they'd familiarize themselves with our founding documents.

If only they'd use a little more common sense and stop demanding that there be yet another law.

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