It wasn't supposed to work that way. Not in 1973. Not ever. Not the way President Nixon said it was going to happen. And it was an important moment when Train vs the City of New York went before the US Supreme Court.
The House of Representatives was supposed to write any law dealing with fiscal appropriations. That's why the House Ways and Means Committee was so powerful. That's why everyone in Washington bowed twice a day in the direction of Ways and Means chairman Wilbur Mills. At least they did until he got inebriated one evening and was stopped by police. Officers watched in amazement as a woman later identified as Argentine stripper Fannie Foxe jumped out of Mills' car and leaped into the Tidal Basin. Those were the days.
The House was supposed to start the fiscal ball rolling. Then the Senate was supposed to pass the bill. If the President signed it, it became law. If the President vetoed it, it could still become law. It was hard, but it was possible. The House and the Senate would have to pass the bill that the President had vetoed by a two-thirds majority. Each.
In 1973, that's just what happened. The House of Representatives passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. Clean water was the issue. Even water that looked clean and sparkling as it came out of the tap had been shown to be an epidemic waiting to happen. So both Houses of Congress passed a bill to help localities clean things up.
President Nixon didn't much care for this particular environmental legislation. He vetoed it. But both Houses voted by a two-thirds majority to override. It became law.
New York City was supposed to get some of that funding, and they needed it. New Yorkers drink lots of water. That's because there are lots of New Yorkers. There is substantial water in New York, but it was notoriously unsafe.
But Nixon was still upset by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. He said something like "FWPCA YOU", which has more consonants than what he really said, and decided that Congress could appropriate whatever money they wanted, and could put it into funding for whatever bills they wanted. He simply wouldn't spend it.
He directed the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Russell Train, to sit on the money. Not literally sit, but the effect was the same. Train, being an obedient civil servant said "Okay, whatever," and impounded the funds.
New York City residents got a bit ticked. Also thirsty. So the city sued. In the meantime, President Nixon got caught covering up burglaries and such. Much later, tapes showed he actually planned crimes. He resigned in 1974, but lawsuits sometimes live beyond their litigants. This one did.
The Supremes issued their decision in 1975. No, no, no, said they. New York gets clean water funding. AND don't ever do that again. President Nixon didn't much care by then. He was just relieved that Congressman turned House Minority Leader turned Vice President turned President Ford issued a pardon. Nixon wouldn't have to go to jail. Who the devil cared about municipal sewers in New York when he had just gotten a get-out-of-jail card?
So the highest court in the land told President Ford, welcome to the White House, and don't ever do that again. So Gerald Ford said "Okay, whatever."
And that's where the law stands now.
The President of the United States is breaking the law if he does not spend money that funds a project that has gone through that process.
On the other hand, the President is breaking the law if he spends money that goes beyond the limits of what is called the debt ceiling.
So, when Republicans decide that elections don't count, and they will hold the country's economy hostage to get their way, it presents an interesting quantum mechanical puzzle. The President, by law, must spend money that, by law, he must not spend.
Welcome to the wonderful world of tail-wags-the-dog Republican governmental procedure.
Trackback address for this post
Secondly, the electorate did not remove the Tea Party from office, even after it saw how willing they are to use the debt limit to get what they want. That was a mistake.
In two years we have a chance to try again. We will go over some cliff, this one or another one, as long as Congress is willing to send us over one.
The Tea Party brags about their willingness to do wreck the U.S. economy if "needed." We elect them to do this for us. They are just doing their jobs.
Obama's and other democrats' spending is pushing us to the brink of a fiscal cliff. Those who are saying "Stop all the wasteful spending" are not.
You will never fix a problem unless you correct the root cause. The root cause is Obama, and the Obama-bot mentality that re-elected him.
So, the "president" violates the law either way . . . great! When do impeachment proceedings start?
There's this little thing called a budget that the House of Representatives is tasked with passing every year.
A budget is where spending gets to be ironed out. The House is where a budget needs to originate. The Republicans are, presently, in control of the House of Representatives. The Debt Ceiling is an inappropriate time to speak about spending cuts and to threaten default on our already incurred debt.
And yes, the democrat controlled Senate has failed to pass a House approved budget for the last four years, while the democrats continue to spend like drunken democrats.
The 2012 budget that passed the house was a party-line vote with not a single Democratic Congressperson voting for it. Do you know what that tells me? The majority did not pass this budget in good faith. Mr. Boehner had to have known how the vote would fall along party lines and further more should have been firmly aware of its likely fate within the Senate.
Basic Civics 101 tells you that once something passes the House it has to go to the Senate and then to the President. Knowing full well something wouldn't get past step number 2 and still claiming "Well we passed a budget" is disingenuous.
So, yes, I suppose you countered my point on the Budget. Perhaps I should have said that the House is tasked with passing a serious budget that is likely to be seriously considered by the other half of the Legislature and the Executive.
The point still stands that the the Debt Limit is an inappropriate device to argue for spending cuts.
The democrats want to play politics on every issue but then cry foul when the republicans play politics in return.
The budget process is initiated with a budget proposal from the president. The president's budget needs to take the opinions of the House into consideration if the president expects congress to seriously consider his budget proposal. Obama's unfounded arrogance apparently leads him to believe that he can completely disregard Congress' budgetary desires and ram his own desires down everyone's throat. He was mistaken.
The first two years of Obama's regime enjoyed democrat control of both the House and the Senate, and they still have not managed to pass a budget since April of 2009. Obama's 2012 budget proposal was voted down by the democrat controlled Senate 97-0. Not a single Senate democrat voted for Obama's budget. So, to blame the republicans is simply wrong. The democrats do not want a budget to restrain them - a budget would force some level of fiscal discipline. They also do not want a budget to be passed because it would clearly reveal how poorly they have governed.
Leave a comment
|« Effect of Anti-Gun Safety Rhetoric||Your Grandfather's Gun Safety Laws »|