I just got off the phone with Congressman Rick Crawford. Apparently he caught word that I was upset about his millionaire surtax proposal. I asked him some pretty tough questions and to his credit, he responded politely, although we vehemently disagree on this issue.
My main issue with Crawford’s proposal is that it violates the Taxpayer Protection Pledge which he signed while running for Congress in 2008. I asked him to respond to ATR President Grover Norquist’s comments that his plan would violate the pledge. Crawford corrected me by saying that his plan would only violate the pledge if it came to the floor of the House and he voted for it. Oh…my bad. So I asked him if he planned to vote for it, should it receive a floor vote. His response:
Sure I would. It would be worth it. But I’m not going to violate the tax pledge for a short-term spending cut. I want this to count for something and the only thing that will count is if we’re able to get permanent reforms.
I interpret this to mean: breaking the pledge is okay, as long as we get what we want. Is that a fair summary?
Crawford then began to speak generally about the tax, saying he ‘doesn’t want to raise taxes.’
People are starting to take a harder look at it. It’s not about raising taxes. I don’t want to raise taxes. What I want is a balanced budget amendment. We need balanced spending. We need 287 votes in the House, so we are going to have to get Democrat votes. We have to have a structural reform to our spending. Only way we do that is if we do something that will bring Democrats to the table.
So I asked Crawford if he has found any Democrat support/if any Democrats are ‘coming to the table on this.’
No. We haven’t formally shopped it out. We’ve had a number of folks who have expressed interest individually.
I also asked Crawford if any members of the Arkansas delegation plan to support the effort. Crawford said he has spoken with all of them, except Mike Ross, but none are wanting to publicly support the effort at this time.
Republicans aren’t coming out and publicly supporting this. I’m hopeful that that will change.
Regarding any support from party leaders, particularly Speaker John Boehner, Crawford said they are ‘aware of the bill,’ but they have not discussed whether or not the Speaker will support the effort.
One of my main concerns with a Balanced Budget Amendment is that it will be used by politicians who have no political courage to raise taxes rather than govern and make tough choices about where to cut. Crawford did not deny that this is a possibility and concern:
There are ways around it, but it will be considerably more difficult to do that. It will be done in the light of day and will be on the record. It could be used to raise taxes, but it would be harder to do it.
Another concern of mine is that no number of constitutional amendments will force Congress to act within their constitutional limitations. Only disciplined, dedicated public servants will insure that we remain a constitutional republic. Crawford addressed this concern, saying that we can force Congress to follow the Constitution through legal action:
What we have in return is a constitutional amendment and legal standing to challenge it, rather than simply a statutory measure. We can challenge it just like Obamacare is being challenged.
I guess I have a hard time seeing how we can trust people who break campaign pledges to hold Congress accountable?
The congressman concluded by saying he’s hopeful that this effort will begin to gain support. He reiterated that people have been approaching him privately and voicing their support.
I appreciate the congressman reaching out to discuss this tough issue with me. I have had tough things to say about his plan, and it did take courage for him to call me. But he is just flat wrong on this issue, and he doesn’t appear to have any support on either side of the aisle. He is trying to bargain with people who cannot be reasoned with, and he is breaking some serious promises along the way.
This is not a winning issue for him, the party, or the country. The sooner he realizes that, the better.
I have contemplated this post for over a week now because I know some nut is going to try to use my comments to portray me as anti-2nd Amendment. So I ask that as we have a conversation about this sensitive issue that everyone have an open mind & remember that my only objective is the discovery of truth. Anyone who knows me knows that I am plenty pro-gun rights. But I reject the notion that being ‘pro-something’ means we cannot have adult discussions about whether or not that position is constitutional. My desire with The Arkansas Patriot, and now with Patriot Talk, is to have a conversation about the constitutionality of an array of issues & the intent of our founders. This article is simply an attempt to do just that.
Allow me to begin by saying: I love the 2nd amendment. I love the 10th amendment. I love liberty. I’m also a big believer in original intent–the idea that the founders who wrote the Constitution knew what they meant better than we do, and that their foresight is better than ours. So this last week when I ran across a headline about one of Arkansas’ U.S. Senators supporting a bill that has been bouncing around Congress for awhile, I felt like this was a good time to have a conversation regarding the federal Bill of Rights & how they apply to the states.
The bill before Congress would reportedly allow concealed carry permit holders to carry across all state lines, a decision that has always been made by the states themselves, not the federal government. Ironically, the bill is entitled the “Respecting States Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.” But what about this bill respects states’ rights? And is this even constitutional?
(Of course, I am operating on the premise that some people in this country still value the idea of constitutionality.)
The idea of leaving decisions related to gun laws to the federal government is a debate I have had with many close political, gun-loving friends before. The general consensus among them has been, “It may not be within the originally intended powers of the federal government to act in this way, but as long as they’re being ‘pro-gun,’ I’m okay with it.” In other words, “As long as big government is acting the way I want it to, it’s fine.” Another argument that has been made is, “Well, the 2nd Amendment! What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ do you not understand??’ ” And lastly, I have been told that I may be right about the original intent of the 2nd Amendment, but “it doesn’t matter, because we passed the 14th Amendment, so the U.S. Constitution does now apply to the states.” Let’s take these points one at a time.
The idea that we can use big government for our purposes is wrongheaded and dangerous. It’s a similar reaction that many had in response to the PATRIOT Act. When Bush was in office & the act was originally passed, many conservatives were okay with the measures taken to keep Americans safe, even if it cost us a little liberty. We trusted Bush. But when Obama came into office and we begin to see how some provisions of the act could be abused, many changed their tunes. Likewise, many who may want to support these efforts to impose gun-friendly laws on states should be leery of what this could mean if Democrats were to once again gain control of both houses of Congress. Would folks in this camp support the federal government telling businesses that they must allow guns in their stores? Big, centralized government is still big, centralized government. I don’t like it ever, regardless of whether or not it appears to be doing something I like.
Then we have the argument that I have somehow missed the ‘shall not be infringed’ clause of the 2nd amendment. Trust me, I’ve read it, and I’ve studied it. The problem with this argument is that the 2nd Amendment is part of the U.S. Constitution, not the state constitutions. Until a series of Supreme Court rulings in the late 19th century (the Slaughter-House Cases) and the passage of the 14th Amendment/Incorporation Clause, the U.S. constitution didn’t trump the states. The 2nd Amendment restricted the federal government from infringing on gun rights, but it did not restrict the state governments. It is true that most states passed their own Bill of Rights & amendments similar to the federal version, but the U.S. Constitution was never designed to trump states’ laws. This was part of the founders design to keep the federal government restrained & states relatively sovereign, allowing for some variation in freedoms.
Look, if California wants to outlaw guns, that’s fine with me. I really could not care less. I am not going to live there, and they’re probably going to do it anyway, so be my guest. But if Arkansas tried to restrict gun rights in any way, I would be up in arms (see what I did there?). This is my state, where I live, and I like our freedom. We should have the right as a state to determine how we are going to handle gun issues.
This design is truly part of the beauty of the system that the founders designed: We are one nation, united under one federal government, but we still have local control over critical issues of freedom. If I don’t like the laws in Arkansas, I can move to Texas. But if the feds pass a stinker of a law, where am I to go? States were designed to be laboratories of democracy. Bills like the federal right to carry stomp on that design.
Now, as for the argument that ‘the 14th Amendment changed all that:’ Yes, the 14th Amendment did change some things, many of them positive, like standardizing citizenship & providing equal protection. But how silly is it to think that an amendment passed in 1868 could change the original intent of the founders nearly 100 years prior? I am a little rusty on my con-law, but I believe a look at the congressional record will show that many conservative congressmen at the time were very concerned that the 14th Amendment would be used in the exact way it has been, endlessly expanding the federal government’s power. Proponents of the amendment argued it would be not be used in that way. So you could say that even the original intent of the 14th Amendment isn’t being applied.
The bottom line is this: We either believe in original intent, or we believe in a ‘living document’ We are either against big government, or we are for big government. We are either against federal mandates or we are for federal mandates. We cannot have it both ways.
If we are for big government, we should 1. Stop calling ourselves conservatives & 2. Brace ourselves. Because you see, a government that is big & powerful enough, outside of its constitutional authority, to mandate that states accept gun-friendly laws is a government big enough to take guns away.
From my perspective, a national right to carry bill is dangerous and unconstitutional. Once we allow the federal government the right to force states to recognize concealed carry permits, we have officially opened the door to allowing the feds to take the permits away.
(Send hate mail to ArkansasPatriot(at)gmail.com or hate tweets @nhhorton/@ArkansasPatriot)
Update on a story I posted earlier: Rep. Tim Griffin (AR-2) now says he is taking a ‘second look’ at his co-sponsorship of SOPA.
Stopping theft of American intellectual property by foreign rogue web sites is critical to protect ideas and jobs. I welcome input on SOPA from all sides, and I share some concerns of constituents who have contacted me. I was hopeful we could revise SOPA to address concerns raised, and I remain hopeful. However, I am taking a second look at SOPA to see if that is possible. I will not support a bill unless my constituents are comfortable with it.
You can weigh in on the Facebook conversation or email the congressman here.
I awoke this morning to some very happy birthday news: Congressman Mike Ross (AR-4) was calling a news conference & it was expected that he would announce his retirement from Congress. He did.
Around 8:35 a.m., state senator Steve Harrelson tweeted that Congressman Ross would make a “major announcement” at 10:00 a.m. at the Holiday Inn near the Little Rock Airport. A few minutes before 10:00, there were “confirmed reports” that Ross would announce his retirement. A few minutes after 10:00, the press conference had still not begun but the room was noticeably void of any Ross supporters. The presser began and Ross did announce that he would retire, a story that has made national news.
By 10:23, Tom Cotton reportedly announced his candidacy for the 4th District seat.
A few minutes before 11:00, Beth Ann Rankin (2011 challenger to Ross) began building speculation that she will enter the race.
By noon, this entire story was old news. Behold: the power of new media.
To read the Ross statement & speculation about who will enter the 4th District race, head over to Talk Business.
One very interesting name that has made Roby Brock’s short list of potential GOP candidates: Will Rockefeller, son of the late Lt. Governor Win Paul Rockefeller.
Nicholas Horton is the Editor of The Arkansas Patriot & former Searcy City Council candidate. He owns & operates Horton’s Lawn Care in Searcy. In his spare time, he volunteers for various political causes. Contact Nicholas at email@example.com & follow him on Twitter.
Congress letting Bush-era tax cuts expire at year’s end will literally hit home
Instead of downsizing government to deal with our country’s budget woes, President Obama and the Democrat-led Congress seem poised to downsize families instead.
A new report from the Arkansas Economist—a publication of UALR’s Institute for Economic Advancement—reveals some unsettling information. Michael Pakko writes:
For the average middle-income American family, the expiration of the tax cuts would mean a tax increase of $1540. For a middle-income family in Arkansas the increase would be $1418–a little bit less than the national average. In percentage terms, however, the difference is remarkable: the national average represents an increase of 45% while the Arkansas increase is over 100%. Continue reading
The Arkansas state and local primary election began May 3rd with the early voting period that runs until May 17th. The primary itself will be on May 18th. As you work to inform yourself as a voter, I recommend the following resources for researching candidates running for state or local (White County) offices.
- The White County Clerk, Tanya Burleson, has some primary election notes (http://www.whitecountyar.org/docs/2010_PRIMARY_ELECTION.pdf) including dates, times, and locations for voting in the primary in White County.
- The White County Clerk also has a list of county candidates that have filed for the primary (http://www.whitecountyar.org/docs/2010_Primary_Candidates.pdf).
- For a sample ballot specific to the candidates you may vote on in this primary, visit the Arkansas Secretary of State Web site www.voterview.org. Continue reading