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Front Page

In This Issue

-The price of democrat domination in the House.

-Public Finance and the House of Representatives

-Comparisons of 1930 to 2010

-Health Care and our Constitution

-What about Health Care?


By Ivan W. Parkins


    Representation of at least some people arose from medieval traditions, especially England’s.  Kings, in need of more money looked for ways to raise taxes with less public resistance.  They granted, to at least some of their more prosperous subjects, a voice in taxation issues.


    Our Constitution goes considerably farther.  It provides for a House of Representatives first among the several branches.  And it further requires that “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; . . .”   The Constitution also provides, and practice has enlarged, roles of the other branches.  But, in evaluating how our political parties have managed finances in recent times, it is important to take notice of which party has held majorities in the House and how large those majorities were over what periods of time.


    The last House majority of Republicans as large as 100 votes was the one that greeted Herbert Hoover following his election in 1928.  FDR’s first five House majorities were: 194, 219, 246, 93, and 105. The next best Republican majority in the House was the one of the 80th Congress, 57 votes.  It was lambasted and ended by Truman in the elections of 1948. Eisenhower entered office with a House Republican majority of 10 votes; he was the last Republican President to hold any House majority until 2000. In his last two years Eisenhower faced a Democrat majority of 130 in the House.  But let’s get beyond the Great Depression, New Deal, and World War II, and the period of their aftermaths


Senator John Thune’s proposal on Budget




See my article on Naked Emperors

By Ivan W. Parkins


Recently, we have witnessed the capacity of a modest Republican majority in the House of Representatives to modify the financial policies of a determined Democrat President supported by a Democrat majority in the Senate.  But why does that seem new?


I say “modest” because, although the present Republican majority in the House is the largest in more than half a century, it is only about half as large as the average for seventeen of the nineteen Democrat majorities in that same period.  The two smallest Democrat majorities in that period were not much different than the one that Republicans hold now. 


Other than the present one, the six Republican majorities of recent times, three each under Presidents Clinton and G.W. Bush, numbered between 9 and 30 votes.  In this same half of a century, Democrats have had six House majorities of a hundred votes or more.


Even granting that many Americans score low in mathematics, and that our information media have tended to treat some facts lightly, can Americans really believe that our major parties have had equal chances to influence the nation’s finances?



(Please note: partisan numbers, for the 435 House members authorized by law, are likely to be exact only for the moment at which they were taken.  Deaths, resignations, changes of affiliation by individuals, and other factors are likely soon to make small differences in the counts.)


Budgeting: The Thune Proposal


The recent suggestion of Republican Senator John Thune that two-year federal budgets cycles be adopted is one that has too long been neglected.  In that regard the Constitution requires only that appropriations for the Army not be for longer than two years.  Such a schedule, with budgets enacted as soon as is politically reasonable after a new Congress is seated, and with the year before elections devoted largely to considerations of needed changes, should produce more orderly results in terms of both our politics and our administration.



By Ivan W. Parkins


Early constitutions, with which James Madison and others among our Constitution’s founders were familiar, often failed when a new majority took control and imposed laws that sacrificed the liberties of others.


The Constitution of the United States was designed to avoid that.  In Article V. it provides for its own amendment, but only by processes that require approvals by extraordinary majorities and the participation of the states.


The Obama Administration’s Health Care Act is an almost classic example of what our Constitution is intended to prevent. It imposes unprecedented requirements upon both individuals and states, and it was created in semi-secret by a highly partisan cabal within Congress; it has also been discredited by the election following.


By Ivan W. Parkins


     If health care is to be a constitutional “entitlement” it, and other social entitlements, should be limited, as the “safety net” simile implies.  The circus performers’ safety nets are simple devices to preserve bodies and lives.  They make it possible for individuals to continue.  Comfort, dignity, and more advanced achievements will vary with the individual’s own efforts; there should be no public effort to guarantee them.


     One simple and modest tax credit or grant, available to all Americans, and adequate to purchase insurance covering most common emergencies and illnesses, is needed.  Several practical administrative hurdles stand in its way.  One is the lack of a single reliable identification device for all individuals.  Another is a plethora of state laws specifying what health insurance must include.  Congress has adequate authority to resolve both of those impediments.


      Regarding rarer health problems and those resulting from the individual’s own indulgences, any single centralized authority is at a disadvantage where cases vary widely from one to another.  The nation may provide for health and medical research, and for controls of poisons and epidemics.  It may also aid lesser governments and private agencies that are dealing successfully with unique problems. The nation should avoid highly varied services, where needs and expectations vary greatly.


     Most urgently, and relating to health care costs, the distortion of tort proceedings into “jackpot justice” should b crushed, and made costly for those who participate in it.  Real injuries should be compensated on an actual loss basis, if specific negligence is demonstrated. We can appropriately refer to ourselves as “individuals” because we do not all respond alike, even to advanced medical science.  The legal process should not be a game of chance for predatory and dishonest persons, who exploit our individual differences.

           1930s/2010s: Fiscal Comparisons

By Ivan W. Parkins


Inflation, real growth, and changing standards make most comparisons of this kind difficult, and likely to be misleading.  This one brief comparison is, I think, worthy of consideration.


During FDR’s first two terms, 1933-1940, his policies approximately tripled this nation’s debt as it compares to national product.  Still in his first term of office, President Obama has increased the debt, as compared to America’s product, by about one third.


But by the end of FDR’s first eight years of spending, our national debt remained less than half as large as the nation’s annual product. While, in a little over 2 years of Obama’s Presidency, this nation’s indebtedness threatens to exceed national product, if it has not already done so.  Also, it should be noted that interest rates on this nation’s borrowing are now higher than in the New Deal period, and they are increasing.