"More Than Just Musing" #10
THE PURSE STRINGS AND MORE
Although James Madison is known as "The Father of the Constitution," he had help from Jefferson, "The Preamble" and "states' rights", from John Adams "In Defense of the Constitution," from Patrick Henry, "The Bill of Rights," and from a variety of others. The real genius though is in the detail.
Article I, Section 7, states that "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House . . . ." -- the "people's house", and not by a "king" who wants funds to wage war on his cousins or the Senate for whatever the reason. After the concurrence of the Senate and the signature of the President, these taxes become available for appropriation. A budget is proposed and fun begins. To whom, how much, and when is determined by the House and Senate with the approval of the President and, of course, the lobbyists.
After the funds are distributed, Congress becomes one big oversight committee, or not. They should be asking: Did we distribute the funds conscientiously? Are they being spent wisely? Are our constituents getting the best for their tax dollars? Are we protecting our Constitutional rights? Are we providing opportunity and justice for all our citizens? By necessity, the constituents go about their daily lives - working, family obligations, PTA, homework, extracurricular activities in the arts and science, coaching and maybe more working. They have placed their trust in Congress and the President.
Meanwhile, the lobbyist with far greater influence have worked their magic. Greed, waste, and incompetence become the order of the day. All takes place with the tacit approval and/or complicity of our elected representatives. Their rewards are campaign contributions, perks, family employment, and promises of future opportunities (see Dennis Hastert). The tribes, Democratic or Republican, exert their influence with bullying, threats, promises and parliamentary procedures. The results are what we have today, a non-deliberative Congress bought by the lobbyists and controlled by the tribes.
The House of Representatives is the key to good government. Every two years we get the chance to correct our mistakes and to give our citizen patriots (We wish.) the opportunity to correct theirs. The "people's house" controls the purse strings. They are one of three checks on appropriations, and they have a major influence on oversight. Let's help them do their job.
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