Ron Paul Is Wrong On The “Super Committee”


Here we go again, with the always-entertaining Ron Paul opening his mouth and spewing nonsense:

The 76-year-old retired OB-GYN, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination again, said he was appalled at the ad hoc 12-member bipartisan committee devised to find further federal spending cuts before Thanksgiving, what he calls “this super Congress.”

According to this week’s agreement, the committee, three members of each party from each chamber, must do the job Congress is supposed to do but hasn’t or can’t. And if it doesn’t, then other automatic cuts occur by year’s end. Not unlike legislative cruise control.

“Where in the world did that come from?” Paul demanded. “And where is that going to lead to? That is monstrous. I keep looking and I can’t find any place in the Constitution where we have the authority to create such a creature as the super Congress.”

Of course Congress has the authority to create committees among its members, and even committees across both chambers! The best example of a committee with members from both the House and Senate would be the “conference committee” which reconciles slightly different versions of legislation passed by the House and Senate into one bill, which is then voted on again by both chambers. “Super Committee” or “Super Congress” is just a fancy term for an ad hoc committee consisting of members of both houses, very similar to the aforementioned conference committee.

Rep. Paul is himself a member of two committees and three subcommittees, one of which he chairs. Would he argue that those committees and subcommittees be disbanded, even the one he leads, because they’re not constitutional? And will he also call for banning conference committees? If he does, at least he’ll be internally consistent, but he won’t be any more right about the constitutionality of it.

Sorry, Paulbots… your guy has opened his mouth and inserted both feet. Again.

(Note from The Owner: I’m closing comments on this thread because we have a more recent thread dealing with this topic. All comments should go there now.)

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About Conservative Wanderer

Conservative Wanderer is currently Editor-in-Chief of That's Freedom You Hear! That means anything that goes wrong can be blamed on him. Previously he was a contributor to the PJ Tatler.

7 responses to “Ron Paul Is Wrong On The “Super Committee””

  1. federalexpression says :

    US Constitution Article 1 Section 7
    1. 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.

    This super committee is designed to originate this type of legislation and it is also designed to eliminate all amendments, linit debate based on an arbitrary time table and remove the use of the filibuster.

    It also inserts an OMB alternate plan should this committee’s recommendation be rejected by the Congress as a while. The OMB is an executive branch department. Thus, the executive branch is involved in crafting legislation should this committee fail to obtain an approval from the Congress as a whole. That would violate Article 1 Section 1: “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.”

    So I ask you… Who has their foot in their mouth?

    • Conservative Wanderer says :

      Precisely.

      The committee drafts the legislation, sends it to the House (there will be House members on the committee, remember), where it is officially enrolled as a House Bill, voted on, then it goes to the Senate, where it is voted on, and so on.

      Are you also claiming that when the President sends his annual budget to Congress–which includes sections on revenue–that’s unconstitutional?

  2. federalexpression says :

    Well, actually I have odten wondered why the president has such a large role in the formulation of the budget since it is the Congress who is empowered to handle the purse strings. However, this super committee is a joint-committee, and as such it should be reconciling bills not originating them. You have not addressed the most insidious part of this arrangment, namely, the use of the executive branch OMB to shove the cuts down the American people’s throats if the super-congress fails.

    The point is … The Constitution decides how the government is to be organized and run. Rules of congress have a role but they must not violate the separation of powers. Once the separation of powers begin to break-down you have a tyranny rising. I beleive this arrangement violates the separtion of powers and is unconstitutional.

    • Conservative Wanderer says :

      You can believe as you wish, but as long as whatever bill is produced begins in the House–or, by the way, includes no “revenue” sections, i.e. no tax increases, which would take it out of Article 1 Section 7–it’s perfectly constitutional.

      For example, the Senate has a budget committee, and no one’s ever–in the decades since it was first formed, first in 1919-1920, then permanently in 1974–complained that it’s unconstitutional that I can find. If everything has to start in the House, as you appear to be claiming, why is there a Senate Budget Committee? And why is the Budget Act of 1974, which created that committee, also not being declared unconstitutional?

      And, the same Budget Act sets the rules by which budget bills are debated in both chambers of Congress… including not allowing the filibuster in the Senate… if that’s allowable, why is the debt deal not?

      I also point you to Keith Hennessey’s excellent analysis of the deal, specifically the section on the cuts that happen if no deal is reached:

      First, it’s a spending cut trigger. It does not and cannot trigger any tax increases.

      Second, the trigger kicks in only if the Joint Committee process fails to result in a new law enacting deficit reduction of at least $1.2 T over the next 10 years.

      The trigger would cut spending by ($1.2 T minus the amount of deficit reduction enacted into law through the Joint Committee process).

      The trigger would cut all discretionary spending, Medicare, farm subsidies, mandatory housing subsidies, and a few smaller mandatory spending programs. Social Security, veterans’ benefits, civilian and military retirement, and all low-income subsidies including Medicaid and the “welfare” programs (food stamps, SSI, etc.) would be exempt from the trigger. Net Interest payments would also be exempt.

      The spending cuts are split evenly (measured in dollars) between two pots:

      defense discretionary;
      nondefense discretionary + covered entitlements.

      As in the 1997 budget law, the cut to Medicare is capped at 2%.

      As for the OMB, that has already been passed by Congress and signed by the President, so it’s gone through the constitutionally-prescribed process, and the amounts of the reductions in the absence of another deal are set by that law. This is no different from Congress passing Bill A reducing spending on Project X by $Y, then a month later passing Bill B changing the spending provisions on Project X to $Z, all of which is perfectly constitutional… it happens quite often with the Medicare “Doc Fix.” In this case, the debt deal is Bill A, and the Joint Resolution is Bill B. If Bill B isn’t passed, then the rest of Bill A takes effect… as passed by Congress and signed by the President, as required by the constitution.

      As I said in the original article, the pieces of this deal are quite routine… restricting the rules of debate, the ad-hoc committee, and so on.

  3. federalexpression says :

    So what you are saying is… We routinely violate the Constitution; what’s the big deal?

    I would argue that every time the congress enables the executive branch to exercise powers delegated to the congress alone, it is a violation of the constitution. These members just do not want to go on record. They do not want the responsibility of making the tough choices.

    This is true of trade policy, war powers, and now the budget. They want to claim constitutional authority to act in all areas affecting the citizens of this nation but they want the executive branch to build the departments and offices and create, enforce and prosecute the laws on their behalf because they don’t have nearly enough time nor expertise to regulate the country to the extent to which they feel they are entitled.

    Instead of trying to find ways to bend the limits of the congress and to exercise perceived loopholes in the system, they shoud read the plain language of the document and eliminate those offices and regulations which have destroyed our ability to create wealth. Our debt is such, that only new wealth creation gives us a prayer to deal with the crises.

    • Conservative Wanderer says :

      Actually, you’re engaging in the old but erroneous practice of calling anything you don’t like “unconstitutional.” It’s human nature, but it’s still erroneous.

      Here’s how it works, and why it’s perfectly constitutional.

      The bill was voted on by both chambers of Congress, as constitutionally required. It passed by the required margin in both chambers. The President signed it. That’s the constitutional process, and it was followed.

      Now, you keep going on and on and on about the OMB, but have you actually read the bill? The OMB is directed to report to Congress in the form of the CBO–the results of the calculations required in the bill regarding Executive Branch agencies and the cuts to them. These are all legitimate Executive Branch functions, handling their own math. The exact calculations are set out in the legislation, the OMB just plugs the numbers in for Executive Branch agencies (including Department of Defense) and then gives the results to the CBO.

      Now, if the commission doesn’t come up with a plan that satisfies the requirements of the bill, then the Congress directs–again, note, Congress is directing–the OMB to immediately cut the budgets of the Executive Branch agencies and departments that it is responsible for by a given amount. The amounts and calculations are specified in the bill, which has, I remind you, been debated upon, voted upon, and duly signed by the Chief Executive in accordance with the Constitution of These United States. The OMB only has authority over the Executive Branch agencies and departments that it already had authority over because those agencies and departments are already in the Executive Branch… which is actually most of the “active” part of the government. This bill doesn’t give OMB any authority it didn’t already have.

      Just because you don’t like a bill isn’t prima facie evidence that it’s unconstitutional. It may not be a good law, but that also doesn’t make it unconstitutional, and just because something is constitutional doesn’t make it good. It’s become all too common these days to conflate “constitutional” with “good” and “unconstitutional” with “bad,” but that’s both sloppy thinking and just flat out wrong.

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