There are so many stupid things in Sen. Rick Scott's new proposal, even Fox TV's John Roberts is appalled -- in this case, by his proposal to raise federal income tax on people who aren't paying it now.
Roberts interviewed Scott on Fox News Sunday and brought up Scott’s 11-step ‘Rescue America‘ plan. The anchor said the proposal calls for all Americans to pay income tax (you know, the good old Skin In The Game philosophy), and also includes a provision that all federal legislation "sunsets in five years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.”
He pointed out the plan could lead to Social Security and Medicare getting shuttered in five years.
“Why would you propose something like that in an election year?” he asked. (Hmm. Maybe he doesn't have a problem with the contents of the plan, he just sees it as an election year liability?)
“That’s, of course, the Democrat talking points,” Scott said.
“No, it’s in the plan! It’s in the plan! Hang on, Senator,” Roberts said. “It’s not a Democratic talking point. It’s in the plan.”
(Besides, Moscow Mitch already shot it down.)
Just as an example of how little Republicans understand of how government actually works, O.G. blogger and attorney Mary Beth Williams spelled out on Twitter what Scott's five-year expiration would do.
Let's start with the Judiciary Act of 1789. During its first session in 1789, Congress passed, “An Act to Establish the Judicial Courts of the United States.” Article III established a “Supreme Court”, but left to Congress the authority to create lower federal courts as needed.
So, according to Rick Scott's plan, in 5 years, all federal district and circuit courts apparently disappear without Congressional action. What else did Congress do during its first session?
Again, Article II established the Executive branch, but only specified the offices of President and VP, leaving to Congress to create necessary departments such as Foreign Affairs (State), War (Defense), and Treasury. Those will all need to be re-enacted every 5 years.
Only the original 13 states ratified the Constitution pursuant to Article VII. The other 37 states were admitted through the “Admissions Clause,” in which admission of a state requires at least one Act of Congress. Imagine Congress re-admitting 37 states every 5 years.
But if all those states have to be re-admitted, who in Congress gets to vote to re-admit them? Only those 13 original states: NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, and GA. Notice anything about the political alignment of most of those states?
But then again, SC seceded from the Union in 1860, and VA, NC, and GA in 1861. All were only re-admitted after Congress passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867. Seems Congress would have to pass new legislation to admit those states, prior to any vote on admitting the other 37.
Of course, there’s no reason for a do-over that recreates the current representative inequity between states such as Wyoming and California. Seems like an opportunity to admit the new states of Dakota and Wyotana. TX might want to go its own way after all.
Back to Congress, which under Article I, was authorized to create a federal district as the nation's permanent seat of government. The choice of a site was left to Congress—which in 1790 passed the Residence Act, creating the new seat in the District of Columbia.
Now, SCOTUS might want to chime in on how to interpret the meaning of “permanent”. Except, while Article III established a “Supreme Court”, it left up to Congress the specifics, such as the composition of the Court—which Congress has addressed through the Judiciary Acts.
However, if Congress only managed to pass the Judiciary Act of 1789, but not its amending Acts, then the Court would be back to one chief, and five associate, justices, or six total. I guess that’s one way to remove Gorsuch, Beer Guy, and ACB.
Yes, many Americans express a desire to make the federal gov’t smaller. But Grover Norquist’s desire to shrink gov’t to the size he could “drown it in a bathtub” pales in comparison to Rick Scott’s vision. And Democrats should remind voters of this every opportunity they get.
I was finished, but my youngest (who earned an A+ in ConLaw last year, brag, brag) reminded me that Scott's proposed law itself would sunset after 5 years. By that point, there might not be a GOP member of Congress left.