Dear Friends of the Constitutional Republic,
Reacting to the tsunami disaster from his Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, President Bush said he and Laura were shocked and saddened by this terrible loss of life. He said: “We pledged an initial $35 million in relief assistance.” He noted, proudly, that in 2004, the U.S. Government had provided $2.4 billion in food, cash, in humanitarian relief, to cover disasters the previous year. He said that providing 40 percent of all the “relief aid” given in the world in 2003 shows “we’re a very generous, kindhearted nation.”
“We?” Did Mr. Bush mean he and Mrs. Bush have pledged $35 million? No. Mr. Bush meant that $35 million worth of your hard-earned Federal tax dollars and mine have been pledged. In an interview on the CBS “Early Show,” Secretary of State Colin Powell said that to deal with the tsunami disaster the U.S. was sending nine P-3 reconnaissance planes and a dozen C-130s. He added: “I think a lot more aid is going to be needed.”
In another interview, on NBC’s “Today” show, Secretary Powell was asked: Is the United States prepared to send aid which might be as much as $1 billion? He replied: “I can’t answer that yet.” In yet one more interview, on the Cable News Network, he said: “The United States is not stingy. We are the greatest contributor to international relief efforts in the world.”
At the risk of being misunderstood, and being falsely accused of being a cruel, hard-hearted person, I must say what must be said. The issue here is not whether America is “stingy.” And the issue is certainly not whether Americans are a “generous” people. We are.
The real issue here is whether such so-called Federally-funded disaster “relief” is Constitutional. And the answer is very clear: No, it is not. There isn’t the slightest Constitutional authority for Federal tax dollars to be spent for disaster “relief.” Thus, any such expenditure of Federal tax dollars for disaster “relief” — foreign or domestic — is illegal, unlawful.
As I pondered what Mr. Bush and Secretary Powell had said, I thought about Tennessee Congressman Davy Crockett. In the early 1800s, Congress was considering a bill to appropriate tax dollars for the widow of a distinguished naval officer. It seemed that everyone in the House of Representatives favored it.
Then Rep. Crockett spoke. He began by expressing his respect for the deceased. But, he insisted, such respect must not lead to an act of injustice against those still alive. He continued:
“I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity, but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.
“Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Sir, this is no debt. We cannot without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”
There was silence on the floor as Rep. Crockett took his seat. When the bill came to a vote, instead of passing unanimously as had been expected, it received only a few votes.
Well, that was then and now is now. President Bush has said what he said and is doing what he’s doing. Mr. Bush, however, is wrong and Rep. Crockett was right. To spend Federal tax dollars on disaster “relief” is the grossest corruption because it is blatantly un-Constitutional. It has not the semblance of any Constitutional authority. We must pray that God raises up more Davy Crocketts to serve in our Congress and all other branches of all our civil governments.
Like Davy Crockett, I admire and appreciate the charity of Americans. But Congress is not authorized to be “charitable” with your money. Only you are.
For God, Family, & the Republic,
Michael A. Peroutka