Friday, August 30, 2013

The Power Of The Purse

The US Constitution gives the Congress and more specifically the House of Representatives the Power of the Purse.  All approvals for spending are supposed to begin in the House, go to the Senate for approval and then on to the President for signature.   When writing the Constitution, James Madison also gave the Congress the Power to Declare War, fearing a Chief Executive more likely to do it on his own, as we have seen many times in our history.  

Shortly, we are likely to see Socialist President Obama rain down shock and awe on Assad's Syria in reprisal for them using chemical weapons to kill over 1,400 of their own citizens.  Dictator Assad crossed the red line that Obama drew in the sand a year ago.  So now, the President presumably must act to maintain his own and the credibility of the United States. 

It is often argued, though also subject to debate, that the President of the United States, any President, has the power to take military action without Congressional approval, as Commander In Chief.  The only problem with this argument is what about the Power of the Purse.  Even if Obama has the power to act unilaterally, those cruise missiles sitting off shore in the Mediterranean, cost $1.5 million each.   If Obama pushes the button to fire all 450 cruise missiles sitting in five US ships, the President will be spending about $675 million.  When all is said and done, this military action could cost a Billion dollars or more.

In the age of Sequester, when the military has been cut by 50% over the next ten years, where is the money coming from to implement this military action.  This is not just about the President's war powers; but rather the Power of the Purse.  I know, I know a Billion dollars is chump change in Washington DC; but it is still a Billion dollars.  The federal government will have to borrow about $400 million, adding it to our $17 Trillion National Debt, to take this action.   How can the President, any President, spend this money without Congressional approval. 

More often than not, the original checks and balances in our Constitution, put there by our Founding Fathers, are ignored.  Obama picks and chooses which laws he wants to enforce.  Not sure how Obama has the power to do that when he as sworn an oath to faithfully execute the laws of the land.  Shock and awe is coming.  Shortly, if all 450 cruise missiles rain over Syria, we will see a Billion dollars go up in smoke.   We can only hope that Socialist President Obama is ready to deal with the aftermath the next day.  Doubt it.   

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