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Posts published in “Day: May 10, 2010”

Constitution, TARP and so on


Mike Simpson

Large chunks of the debate among the Republican candidates for the Idaho 2nd district House seat - incumbent Mike Simpson and challengers Russ Mathews and Chick Heileson - are well worth a review. It was in the main, though, a conflict between Simpson and Heileson, who probably let not a sentence go by without including the word "constitution" and making very clear that he, and not necessarily anyone else to include the Supreme Court, knows what it means.

Maybe the key topic was the federal payout, in late 2008 and early 2009, in the TARP (banking) and other programs. Simpson was among those voting in favor, and that is a big part of why he has two energetic opponents this year. His take on why he voted as he did is worth running here (and worth reading) in full:

Given the same circumstances and the same knowledge we had at the time, I don't think we had a choice. I think everybody believed something had to be done. You right: I knew we would get to this tonight because both of my opponents have criticized that vote, as have many people. But I will tell you when you're standing in a room, or sitting in a room, with the secretary of the treasury and the chairman of the federal reserve, and they're speaking, and their lower lip is shaking, and you can look in their eyes - and they're scared. Because they see the economy going off the cliff. Literally going off the cliff. They see economic Armageddon coming if something isn't done. Now whether TARP was the right thing to do or not, if other things could have been done - no one has proposed what else we could have done.

Some people have said it is unconstitutional. No: It is tied to the constitution. It is tied to the first Congress tht employed these powers in 1791 to incorporate and charter the first Bank of the United States. This is what the Supreme Court said in McCullough vs. Maryland, when they reviewed that case. They said in upholding that [action], they said that although no provision in the U.S. Constitution expressly authorizes the chartering of a national bank, doing so was necessary and proper. There is a "necessary and proper" clause in our constitution. Incident to the powers to lay and collect taxes, to borrow money, to regulate commerce, to declare and conduct war and to raise armies. The financial system depended on this.

This was not a bank bailout. This was a financial and credit system bailout. We had credit being frozen in this country. We were looking at potentially, and I think most economists will agree, probably 25% to 30% unemployment in this country if we did nothing. I am unwilling to accept that. So we did what we thought was necessary. If there are other ideas out there that we could have done to free up this credit situation, we would have looked at those options also. But to just sit back and say, "let them fail," that was not an option I was willing to accept.


The wonders of election law

There's some chatter about the idea of Washington Governor Chris Gregoire getting an appointment as national solicitor general assuming the incumbent, Elena Kagan, is confirmed in her nomination today to the Supreme Court.

Pretty premature as speculation. But the Tacoma News Tribune political blog has a great bit about what would happen if Gregoire should resign:

Katie Blinn at secretary of state's office says a resignation prior to May 31 would trigger a primary AND a general election for the office. But a resignation after May 31 but before October 3 would set up a winner-take-all general election with everyone who files on the ballot together. Then it gets even more strange because if Gregoire resigned AFTER Oct. 3, Owen would serve until the regular 2012 election even though his vacant lieutenant governor spot would appear on the 2011 ballot.


Creating and joining civic groups to encourage people to get active in politics and civic life is a good thing, period. But some groups seem almost to be asking for some qualifiers to that - often, these days, when they presume to be speaking for people they're not really speaking for.

Case in point today is We the People Vancouver, a politically-oriented group operating in Clark County. There's some overlap and issue congruence with the Tea Party groups - the viewpoint generally can be described as conservative ideological, not greatly different from the Tea Party - but this one is distinctive on several levels, indicates an interest in a broader range of issues, and has gotten active in interviewing and presumably backing candidates. (Mainly Republicans show up; one of the founders is himself a Republican candidate for office.) About 80 to 100 people show up at a typical meeting.

All of which is just good civic activism, save for this: Their name. "We the People Vancouver" as a group name carries a presumption that this core of 80 to 100 people are acting and speaking on behalf of - or in concert with - all of the people of Clark County. Politically, Clark is deeply split, home to elected officials both liberal and conservative. How could any group with a clearly-defined point of view claim to speak for them all?

Toward the bottom of their website, you'll see this organizational note: "We The People of Vancouver / SW Washington are part of the coalition forming" Go there, to the "Washington Patriot Hub," which describes itself as a "communications hub" for conservatives, and you get another variation of this: Presumably, those whose ideology matches up with the groups involved are "patriots," and those who see things differently are . . . not.

Sooner or or later, the whole matter of saying that only believers in an often extreme ideology are patriots or "we the people," ought to be addressed more broadly. A lot of very patriotic Americans are being deeply insulted, day in and day out, by this kind of thing. And many of them don't even know it . . .