Economics

Is the Bailout Constitutional?

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George Will votes no.

It is high time Americans heard an argument that might turn a vague national uneasiness into a vivid awareness of something going very wrong. The argument is that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) is unconstitutional.

By enacting it, Congress did not in any meaningful sense make a law. Rather, it made executive branch officials into legislators. […]

FreedomWorks, a Washington-based libertarian advocacy organization, argues that EESA violates "the nondelegation doctrine." Although the text does not spell it out, the Constitution's logic and structure—particularly the separation of powers—imply limits on the size and kind of discretion that Congress may confer on the executive branch.

The Vesting Clause of Article I says, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in" Congress. All. Therefore, none shall be vested elsewhere.

Whole thing here. Reason on the bailout here.

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  1. Is the Bailout Constitutional?

    Dude, that question is like so last millenium. Lol! I’d rather get my shitty mortgage paid than worry about some old dokumints…

    Lol!

  2. It is high time Americans heard an argument that might turn a vague national uneasiness into a vivid awareness of something going very wrong. The argument is that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) is unconstitutional.

    [Welcomes Will to the party, hands him his Official Wooden Board.]

    Go ahead and beat your head against that. The bar’s over there.

  3. Taktix, you seem to have mind melded with the average american voter. Get out while you can still develop independant thoughts!!!

  4. threadjack sort of: wonderful editorial in the local rag today from Thomas Sowell about certain congress “men” extorting the bonuses from AIG execs.

  5. Consti-what?

  6. If the EESA is unconstitutional, most everything else the FedGov does is as well. So why not just write that?

    In other news, bacon is bad for you.

  7. “Listen- I have a meeting with a group of lobbyists in twenty minutes, and then we jump on the plane to make it to that fundraiser back home. I don’t have time to get involved in a lot of piddly details. There’s an election coming.”

  8. Of course it is constitutional. Obama signed it.

  9. How quaint! Someone thinks were still using that.

  10. good luck getting standing to litigate this issue.

  11. Brandon, unlike the stimulus, bacon is delicious and worth the deleterious effects.

  12. Actually, GW Bush signed it. Does that change the analysis?

  13. Actually, GW Bush signed it. Does that change the analysis?

    But it took Obama to fix it.

  14. The clean water act.

    Congress has been handing its legislative prerogatives off to the bureaucrats in the Exective branch for decades.

    I expect them to try to hand over taxation decisions any day now.

  15. Good afternoon Mr. Constitution, what concern is it that you represent?….Hmmm, I can call my campaign office but I don’t remember…Oh, you don’t make campaign contributions….1787? My goodness, and you’re still around? If you don’t mind me saying so, sir, you should really revamp your government relations department.

  16. J sub D,
    Why shouldn’t they? The chosen one can do no wrong!

  17. They’re absolutely right, but damn near everything in the thousands of pages of the Federal Register is a violation of non-delegation.

    I can put any random section of the Code of Federal Regulations in front of you, and any random section of the US Code in front of you, and you won’t be able to tell me which was passed by Congress and which was enacted by a regulatory agency more than 50% of the time.

    The Constitutional system is irretrievably broken. This is not a constitutional republic any more. Get used to it.

  18. The Smithsonian has a newspaper from a day or two after Hiroshima was bombed. There’s a small story on the front page of the UN asking for $1.5 billion to rebuild Europe after WWII. Adjusted into today’s dollars, that’s less than $100 Billion. The stimulus is costing eight times that.

    And what does it matter if it’s constitutional? The recoup-the-AIG-bonus bill was called (in not so many words) a bill of attainder by both the president and key house members. The question is whether SCOTUS would overturn it.

  19. Ok, like constitutionality really matters. How many times has this argument been brought up by the losing side. Constitutionality can’t hold a candle to might, regardless of how you might feel about it.

  20. FDR already killed the Constitution with the “New Deal” long aog.

    Will is beating a dead horse.

  21. Long ago that is – not aog

  22. When I saw the title of this H&R I didn’t expect to read about the nondelegation. What about the general welfare clause? Congress may collect taxes etc for the “general welfare” (and common defense), meaning to pay for the things that congress can do. What can congress do? Exactly what the constitution says it can do, nothing more. Nowhere in the Constitution is the power to hand out money to whoever you feel like, and impose federal regulations on everything under the sun.

    I suppose you could get around my above argument with the use of the abused and mutated interstate commerce clause, which apparently gives congress the power to regulate anything in the country, claiming some vague connection to interstate commerce. Other than that, you don’t need to look much farther than the question “Does Congress have the authority to make regulations like the bailouts?”. The answer is no, Congress has no such power, at least according to laws.

  23. You reactionaries refuse to recognize the greatness of the Supreme Court justices who first understood the idea of the Living Constitution. Can you get that idea through your minds?

  24. Stop spoofing me.

  25. Your literalist Constitution propaganda is the reason we’re in an economic crisis, you libertardian aholes.

  26. I’ll spoof you all I want, because you’re a spoof troll, and I want in on the act.

  27. Who spoofs the spoof troll?

  28. The level of juvenile here has sunk to new depths. Is this a school break or something?

  29. The constitution should have no bearing on our democratic government because it was written by a bunch of dead racist white guys who passed it over the heads of the people to help big business.

  30. Stop spoofing me, you libertardian aholes! Remember, bull and horns!

  31. I came in here to say “good luck with that”, but R C Dean beat me to it. Nondelegation was flushed down the toilet long ago. Congress will gladly offload accountability wherever it can, even if it means giving up its Constitutional powers. Pussies.

  32. If you spoof me, then you suck.

  33. Stop spoofing me spoofing me!

  34. I don’t care how government distributes power within itself so long as it is a government elected by the people. Barack Obama was elected overwhelmingly by the people and has the support of the people therefore if the Congress elected by the people gives him more power they have every right because it allows him to act more effectively as the voice of the people.

  35. Well, if gradual decline into tyranny didn’t wake enough of us up, maybe a more rapid descent will.

  36. I am sic and tired of the libertards spoofing me. I’m leaving!

  37. Good to see that someone widely read among the general public is writing libertarian stuff, even if it’s a D-oh moment (Heavily sarcastic: “The constitution is being violated? I did not know that was going on.”) for actual libertarian-leaning people.

  38. Great thinkers are never appreciated in their own time. One day, you’ll wish you had never spoofed me, libertards! You could have been associated with the most profound thinker in history, but instead like swine you soiled the pearls place before you.

  39. Oh for Christ’s sake, can we get a banhammer in here already? This will now be at least the 4th or 5th time the troll/spooftroll attack-counterattack cycle has sunk a thread.

    Fuck.

  40. I think this is the same argument used against delegating war-making powers to the president in Iraq. There were a few lonely voices protesting that, none of them taken very seriously.

    By this logic, the president should also not be allowed to submit a budget proposal to congress, no? Seems like sound reasoning to me, anyway.

  41. A proposal doesn’t sound like a delegation of powers to me; it sounds like a proposal.

  42. Would whoever’s driving TofuSushi please retire that sockpuppet already? It ceased to be even mildly amusing long, long ago.

  43. AO,
    weren’t you banned? Why do you keep posting?

  44. George Will is a very smart guy, but I think he’s off base here in his legal analysis- the ESSA is essentially an appropriations act done under Congress’ authority to appropriate monies from the Treasury. Non-delegation doctrine is not really related to that. It almost appears like Will is saying that Congress was required to ear-mark the money- that’s strange. If you look at the early Congress’ appropriations acts, they were very general- they just appropriated money to the various executive departments without much in the way of specific direction. The modern appropriations act, on the other hand, is a several hundred/thousand page monster, with an accompanying thousand page conference report, and along with a 1000-page authorization act, that gives the executive all kinds of specific direction in how to spend funds.

  45. Would whoever’s driving TofuSushi please retire that sockpuppet already? It ceased to be even mildly amusing long, long ago.

    Tell it to the insane trollbots. This is only my 3rd real post to this thread. Maybe 4th.

  46. TAO,

    Incif. Really, it makes these things readable.

  47. Yeah, Comrade Will, it is probably unconstitutional. So is much of what the government does.

    We’re about 70 or 80 years past the point where anyone in the government gave a rat’s behind about doing things the constitutional way.

    So, short of a tax strike or massive protests or some form of civil disobedience, I doubt writing polite columns in establishment papers will stir any nascent desire in legislators or judges to take the document seriously again.

  48. Incif. Really, it makes these things readable.

    I have the script and greasemonkey and it worked for me for a little while, but then it just stopped, and no matter what I do, it just doesn’t work for me.

    I R compooter illiterate, however.

    Comrade Dread – are you an Internet Tuff Gai? Civilized discourse is the only way.

  49. I expect them to try to hand over taxation decisions any day now.

    They pretty much have in terms of tariffs.

    And income tax brackets are determined by bureaucratic formula rather legislative dictum. (although this specifically allows adjustment for inflation)

  50. Just sparked up INCIF. You are right, it really does improve the readability.

    I have no problem with dissenting opinions, I am pretty liberal about some things myself, but the constant spamming gets tedious.

  51. Just sparked up INCIF. You are right, it really does improve the readability.

    Me too. Damn skippy, it does make things better.

    And income tax brackets are determined by bureaucratic formula rather legislative dictum. (although this specifically allows adjustment for inflation)

    Isn’t the initial formula legislative, or am I misremembering?

  52. Tofuspoofi,
    If I hear you or anyone else mention the word “overwhelming” one more time when describing Barry’s victory, I’ll be delivering the horns.

    54% is NOT overwhelming. 75% is overwhelming. 54% is barely a majority.

  53. In this country, a 50.000001% win is a mandate.

  54. Silenz,

    You know you are responding to an imposter, right?

  55. Its one thing to make an obvious spoof, but to be deceptive about it is as shitty as my face.

  56. And, in another shocking restatement of the obvious:

    WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The Government Accountability Office is encouraging people to use its FraudNet hotline system to report waste, fraud and mismanagement of government stimulus funds.

    “Experience tells us that the risk of fraud and abuse grows when large sums are spent quickly, eligibility requirements are being established or changed, and new programs created,” said Gene Dodaro, head of the GAO and acting comptroller general of the U.S.

    from WSJ

  57. I wonder if Mister Dodaro is allowed access to the Presidential Suit. This might *interest* it.

  58. Ahhhh, bliss! I just updated INCIF.

    Much, much better!

  59. Who spoofs the spoof troll?

  60. The Constitutional system is irretrievably broken. This is not a constitutional republic any more. Get used to it.

    Yup. Start stocking up on guns and ammo, and get ready to shoot stupid fucks in the head.

  61. are you an Internet Tuff Gai? Civilized discourse is the only way.

    No, I’m not a violent person. But it is rather optimistic to believe that pointing out that something is unconstitutional will stop it from happening, given that much of the law and system as currently composed would not pass strict constitutional muster, and no politician (of either party) would be keen to go back and restructure the Federal (and State) Government(s) to make it constitutional

    Hence, if one wants attention and really cares about this issue (and are not merely a Republican who is all to happy to cry unconstitutional while voting for egregious violations of privacy and the 4th amendment), then your best bet would be to organize protests, flood the Capitol switchboard, and (if conditions warranted it) engage in non-violent civil disobedience (being ready and willing to take the consequences for doing so.)

  62. Would you morons stop spoofing TofuSushi? The ORIGINAL was hilarious. You are not.

  63. Of course it’s “constitutional” until declared otherwise by the Supreme Court. Congress passes plenty of laws that last until declared unconstitutional by the SCOTUS.

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