Here’s an out-of-the-box thought about how States can use their Constitutional powers to rein in the federal government. Of course, you would only be interested in this idea if you hold the opinion that our federal government is bloated, wasteful, arrogant, disobedient and destructive.
First, let’s impose the discipline of the paycheck on Congress and see if that improves their performance. The Constitution says that the compensation of Senators and Representatives shall “be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States.” That’s in Article I, Section 6. Note that it doesn’t specify who makes the Law ascertaining compensation, it just requires that this be done by Law. Congress has been making the law ascertaining their own compensation, under their general authority in Article I, Section 8: “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”
Time out. Before we go back and close the loop on the discipline of the paycheck, let’s note that this clause is the oversight power. Congress has the power to decide how any Department or Officer of the government will do their job. Such as DOJ, FBI, etc., providing information to Congress. These agencies, bureaus, and so on, like to describe themselves as “independent”. We need to call “BULL****” on that. They are NOT independent of the Constitution.
Back to the discipline of the paycheck. Let’s have States declare that it is not proper for Congress to ascertain their own compensation (“necessary and proper” being the conditions of their power to make Laws), so each State makes a Law ascertaining that Senators and Representatives chosen by the people of that State shall be paid XYZ. Perhaps start with putting them at the average pay of teachers, firefighters, police and nurses. Then add some performance clauses such as securing the border, balancing the budget, etc., in order to be paid.
If we have a President and Treasury Secretary who will recognize these State laws as the proper authority, then we can impose the discipline of the paycheck on Congress. Why should they keep getting rich while cramming lousy results down our throats? They are our employees. Well, we are the employer, so let’s start being the employer! Set performance goals and tie reasonable compensation to satisfactory performance. Sorta like the arrangement we governed have with our employers, right?
And, yes, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, much huffing and puffing about supremacy of federal law, blah, blah, blah. But if the President and Treasury Secretary stand firm in support of these State laws as the proper authority, then no money gets paid except under these State laws.
ERpundit – 05/15/2018