The House of Representatives has knee-jerked once again, this time over slapping AIG employees who received those obscene bonuses with a 90% tax on those bonuses.
Is there anyone in the House, or in the Senate for that matter, who is possessed of any sense whatsoever?
Here's the deal:
First, the Obama stimulus bill allowed the bonuses. Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, who initially lied about his role in the inclusion of the so-called "Dodd Amendment" which allowed the bonuses, has confessed that he is in fact responsible for the amendment. He claims that the Treasury Department "forced" him to do this. I have to wonder if Timothy Geithner held a gun to the senator's head.
So the bonuses, objectionable as they are, as obscene as they are, are in fact legal, and they have been sanctioned by the United States Congress, both houses, and the President of the United States, who signed the bill into law.
The recipients of the bonuses have committed no crimes. They have taken bonuses that were legitimately awarded to them.
Why, then, is the Congress using the tax code to punish them? Is the tax code a punitive device? Do you, as a citizen, want the Congress to be able to slap an arbitrary and capricious tax on you? Do you think that can't happen? If you do, then go reassure the AIG bonus recipients.
What about Article 1, Section 9, of the United States Constitution, which prohibits ex post facto laws and Bills of Attainder?
Here is the definition of Bill of Attainder: In the context of the Constitution, a Bill of Attainder is meant to mean a bill that has a negative effect on a single person or group (for example, a fine or term of imprisonment). Originally, a Bill of Attainder sentenced an individual to death, though this detail is no longer required to have an enactment be ruled a Bill of Attainder.
What has the House done but pass a law that is essentially a Bill of Attainder, taking punitive action against a very small group of people who have committed no crime?
Here is the definition of ex post facto, taken from the landmark case Calder v Bull, from the majority opinion written by Justice Chase:
1st. Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action. 2d. Every law that aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was, when committed. 3d. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense, in order to convict the offender.
Though no crime has been committed, the House with its punitive taxation measure violates every precept, every rational thought in Justice Chase's opinion. What has the House done but pass an ex post facto law?
The Congress and the President screwed up by ramming that so-called "stimulus bill" through. None of our Congressional delegation read it, so they could not possibly have thought about it. And what good has it done? Where is the oversight? Where is the adult supervision? Why are citizens of this nation who have committed no crime, who have acted with the approval of the Congress, now being punished through the tax code, by the very people who are responsible for setting up the situation in the first place?
I truly hope that the AIG bonus recipients hire themselves a good lawyer and take it to the United States Supreme Court, where 9 justices will hopefully, and unanimously, shove that law so far up the collective Congressional backside that our Congresscritters spew the Preamble for a month, every time they open their mouths.