Examiner Editorial: No, Congressman, government does have limits 

When Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., was told during a July 24 town hall meeting with constituents that he and public officials like him were "destroying this nation," he smirkingly replied, "And I guess you're here to save it. And that makes me very uncomfortable." This derision of a constituent was particularly poignant, considering that the questioner had only asked what limits would remain on the federal government if Congress could get away with passing a bill as destructive of individual rights as Obamacare. Stark responded that "I think that there are very few constitutional limits that would prevent the federal government from rules that could affect your private life." He was roundly booed, but then given another opportunity to respond. He observed that "the federal government, yes, can do most anything in this country."

Unfortunately, Stark's extreme views are common among the current congressional majority. Still, we have no doubt that those who wrote the Constitution would be astounded to hear such monarchical attitudes today since they were exactly what the American Revolution was fought to overcome.

Sadly, it probably comes as no surprise to most Americans that Washington politicians like Stark hold such a self-serving view of the Constitution. It's still shocking to hear it put in such stark terms. But Americans have been hearing this theme from their leaders throughout the current economic crisis: Those in power are mainstream agents of change, whereas those who, like Tea Partiers, protest bailouts, deficits, tax hikes and exploding national debt are disreputable radicals and even racists. This is the incumbent- protection narrative that seeks to discredit the middle-American rebellion sparked in 2009 when President Obama proposed an $862 billion economic stimulus program that most knew would mostly line the pockets of his political allies.

Congress is subject to checks and balances by other branches of government, as well as to specific constitutional limits. The First Amendment, for example, says "Congress shall make no law" on freedom of religion, speech, assembly and petition. The Second Amendment protects "the right of the people to keep and bear arms." The 10th Amendment says all powers not specifically enumerated for the federal government "are reserved to the states, or to the people." Washington politicians like Stark should get familiar with the founding documents, particularly this radical Constitution whose present advocates among his constituents make him so uncomfortable. After all, every two years for the past nearly four decades, he has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and vowing to bear "true faith and allegiance to the same." It's past time such politicians get right with their vows.

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