Constitution

Here’s what Harry Reid said yesterday in answer to a question from CNN’s Dana Bash:

What right did [the House of Representatives] have to pick and choose what part of government is going to be funded? It’s obvious what’s going on here. You talk about reckless and irresponsible. Wow. What this is all about is Obamacare. They are obsessed. I don’t know what other word I can use. They’re obsessed with this Obamacare thing. It’s working now and it will continue to work and people will love it more than they do now by far. So they have no right to pick and choose.

You might be tempted to give Reid the simple and obvious answer: look it up here. It’s the sort of thing every kid used to have to learn in civics class (not sure what children learn now, or if they even have civics class any more). First there’s Article I, section 7, clause 1: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.” It’s followed by Section 7 Clause 9: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law…”

So Congress was given what is commonly known as the power of the purse, and at the Constitutional Convention it was decided that the House of Representatives should hold more of that power than the Senate because the House “was more immediately the representatives of the people, and it was a maxim that the people ought to hold the purse-strings.”

Aside from this balancing of fiscal power somewhat in favor of House over Senate, another goal was to make sure the executive did not spend money without congressional authorization. The framers had had experience with kings spending money without being directly answerable to the people, and they didn’t like it.

But I strongly suspect that Reid doesn’t really need to be informed of any of this. For one thing, he has a law degree, and that usually indicates at least a glancing familiarity with the Constitution. In addition, he’s been a member of both Senate and House in his career, and he knows the procedures of both bodies.

But Harry Reid is well aware of something else: the fact that more and more voters are ignorant of the way our government is set up and of the reasons it was designed that way. So he knows that he can get away with these ignorant-sounding remarks. He is very likely to also realize that some people who actually do know how the government is set up don’t care, or would even like that system changed. Some on the left think it’s archaic and gets in the way of what they want Reid and company to do (see this or this).

Reid is aware of still another thing: that he and Obama and the Democrats have much of the MSM in their pockets. That’s one of the reasons he was so outraged when Bash asked him some tough questions yesterday; she was breaking the protective rules to which he’s grown comfortably accustomed. So Reid served notice on her; after calling the Republican House “reckless and irresponsible,” he tarred Bash with the same brush, saying “To have someone of your intelligence to suggest such a thing means you’re as irresponsible and reckless.”

That’ll teach her to be so impudent.

These remarks of Reid’s are the hallmarks of an elected official and a party whose arrogance has swollen to unconscionable and dangerous proportions.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]