The U.S. Constitution is a short, straightforward document — and yet we seem to have thrown it out the window with the Affordable Care Act.
The beauty of what the founding fathers accomplished can be summed up in two words — "checks and balances." The Constitution is pretty strict about who can do what and who has a check and balance on whom. And it's very clear about how laws should originate. Per the Origination Clause, or Revenue Clause as it's sometimes known, bills that involve legislation for increasing revenue must start in the House. There were several versions of health-care reform legislation kicking around the House and the Senate but the House wasn't getting the votes to pass it. So the Affordable Care Act that was passed into law actually originated in the Senate.
Bottom line: I don't think the law is constitutional.
Of course, there is always an excuse for weakening the tenets of the Constitution and the biggest has been crisis management. Whether the result of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11th or the fallout from the credit crisis, changes in the basic message of the Constitution have been sold to the citizenry as a matter of expediency to deal with unforeseen "issues" and as "any means to justify the ends." That is placing the country on a questionable path regarding political activities sanctioned in the Constitution.
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For the sake of "full disclosure," I admit I am a constitutionalist. I am very concerned that the trends of the last 20 years have shifted power away from Congress to the executive branch and the "fourth branch," a name given to the federal agencies that have exploded in size and power. There is a major shift from the principles and values that were memorialized in the Constitution by the founding fathers.
Rep. Trey Gowdy a Republican from South Carolina, said it perfectly in a recent interview I did with him: "What good is it to have a legislative body that passes a law if the executive branch is free to ignore the law?" (Click here to watch the interview.)
We run a huge risk when we start operating outside the Constitution. Look at countries that don't have strong constitutions like Russia and China. This would be normal operating procedure there. Call me crazy, but I've always thought of us as different!
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Here's the real risk of that type of behavior: When you don't have a strong constitution, you don't have a strong economy.
Is that where America is headed?
Many of the recent laws and recent power of agencies to dictate large activity within the economy is unconstitutional. Period.
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We need to follow the Constitution.
We need to get the judiciary branch to weigh in on the output of the structure of government agencies. We need some type of a bridle to executive order.
This should be back in front of the Supreme Court.
— By Rick Santelli
Rick Santelli is an on-air editor at CNBC, who reports live from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.