Walter E. Williams

Do any of the prospective nominees of either party deserve respect from the American people? The answer partially depends on your knowledge, values and respect for the U.S Constitution.

When either Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain take office, they are going to place their hand on the Bible and take the oath, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

It will be a phony affirmation, but what's worse is that the chief justice of the United States, who administers the oath, and the average American will believe the new president.

You say, "Hey, Williams, that's a pretty tall charge! Explain yourself." There's a measure introduced in every Congress since 1995, by Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., called The Enumerated Powers Act that would require that all bills introduced in the U.S. Congress include a statement setting forth the specific constitutional authority under which the law is being enacted.

The Enumerated Powers Act currently has 44 co-sponsors in the House. In the Senate, it has never had a single co-sponsor, and that's a Senate that includes our three presidential aspirants. The question one might ask is why would Sens. Obama, Clinton and McCain have a distaste for, and fail to support, a measure binding them to what the Constitution actually permits?

There's a two-part answer to that question. First, few congressmen, including our presidential aspirants, have the integrity, decency and courage to be bound by the Constitution, but more important is that congressmen and presidents simply reflect the constitutional ignorance or contempt held by the American people.

Most of what Congress is constitutionally authorized to spend for is listed in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and includes: coining money, establish Post Offices, to support Armies and a few other activities. Today's federal budget is over $3 trillion dollars. I challenge anyone to find specific constitutional authority for at least $2 trillion of it. That includes Social Security, Medicare, farm and business handouts, education, prescription drugs and a host of other federal expenditures. Americans who have become accustomed to living at the expense of another American would not want Congress to obey the Constitution, especially if it left out their favorite handout.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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