The Constitution, Congress, Individual Liberty, and Prosperity – Yes, They are All Related!

Roger Pilon, VP of Legal Affairs at the Cato Institute, has an excellent article in The Wall Street Journal today on the Constitution, Congress, and individual liberty.  It shows the path America has taken … from limited government that protects individual liberty under the Constitution … to big government that largely ignores the Constitution.  I would add to these thoughts the ideas that America is moving away … from economic freedom and prosperity … to an economy stifled by big government, high unemployment, and unsustainable deficits and debt.  Let’s talk more about these vitally important ideas now …

First, let’s talk about the Constitution.  While The Declaration of Independence created a moral vision for what was a good government, the Constitution provided a political vision for a limited government that protected individual freedoms.  Its focus was individual liberty.  The power of the Federal government was limited and enumerated, again to protect individual liberty.

With the advent of progressive socialist thinking and various Supreme Court decisions that weakened the Constitutional protections of private property, individual liberty, and limited government powers, Americans have relinquished considerable freedom.  Some of the latest assaults on our liberty include ObamaCare that will most likely result in medical decisions being made for Americans by big government bureaucrats instead of by patients and their doctors.  Another assault is the recent announcement by the EPA that it will start to regulate greenhouse gas standards, despite the fact Congress rejected cap-and-trade legislation.

But, another point is sometimes missed in this discussion.  Trampling the Constitution not only means that we lose many of our freedoms, but also that we lose our prosperity.  Pro-growth economic policies rely on economic freedom, free markets and the competition, lower prices, innovation, and new job creation that they spawn.  Yes, the Constitution, individual liberty, and prosperity are all related.  So, where does Congress fit into the equation?

In The Wall Street Journal article, Roger Pilon points to the plan in the new House to require all bills to specifically cite the authority that permits it to introduce a bill.  The first question Congress should always ask about a bill according to Pilon is: “Does the Constitution authorize us to pursue this end?”  If not, end of debate.  If yes, the next question Congress should ask deals with whether the means to the end are ”necessary and proper” from a Constitutional perspective.  Pilon also believes Congress needs to stop delgating its authority to executive agencies, either approve or rescind/defund executive branch regulations that are inapproriate, and create no new regulations unless authorized by the Constitution.

Of course, as we protect (and in some cases restore) economic freedom, we can expect our economy to improve.

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