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Issue Profile: Unconstitutional Federal Agencies

Nov 02, 2011

The third installment of our Member of the Week series continues with an issue profile as discussed by the Congressman. Yesterday, we presented Rep. Jeff Duncan's answers to five questions, including one about what aspect of government he would reform. His response centered around the looking into federal agencies that are not constitutional, and specifically mentioned the Department of Education, the Department of Energy and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Those who claim the Department of Education is Constitutional say that it promotes the general welfare of the United States, however, this phrase appears in the preamble of the Constitution does not grant or prohibit power to Congress, that is not its purpose. The preamble simply describes the Constitution and what the document itself was designed to do, and is not actually a binding decree of the Constitution.

The Department of Education was founded using the preamble as the basis for its Constitutionality, but due to what's stated above, it is clear that it is not. Thomas Jefferson considered the federal government's involvement in education to be unconstitutional. In 1862, James Buchanan warned that giving education to Congress would create a vast and irresponsible authority. Both he and Jefferson were right.

President Obama requested a $48.8 billion budget for the Department of Education, and an additional $28.6 for Pell Grants (both increases from previous years) in his first 2012 budget. Despite all the spending for education, test scores do not improve. Because of this failure of the department, and its inherent unconstitutionality, it should be devolved back to the states.

The Department of Energy should suffer the same fate. Nowhere in the Constitution does the federal government have the right to control a specific industry. The elimination of this department was something Ronald Reagan greatly desired, but was unable to do with Democrats controlling Congress. The department was created from components of existing agencies in 1977. By 1982, the agency's budget has doubled. President Obama's 2011 budget request for the department was $28.4 billion, a 6.8% increase from 2010.

Now remember, the Department of Energy is responsible for the crony loan program which gave taxpayer dollars to companies like Solyndra, Beacon, Evergreen Solar and many more which have all gone down the drain. This department, which has been using taxpayer funds to invest in highly risky companies (I thought risky investments was the reason the Occupiers hate Wall Street?) based solely on political reasons is clear grounds for elimination.

The NLRB...where to begin. This agency has been trying to bolster union support since its inception. Union membership actually only totals about 9% of the national workforce, yet this agency would prefer that be 100%. We've seen that with their lawsuit against Boeing. They want Boeing to shut down a plant that employs over 1000 people just because it's not unionized. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) even agreed that the government force the plant to shut down, but she would prefer it simply become union.

Is this kind of government overreach Constitutional? Remember, these are not the only agencies that don't get their power from the Constitution, and are just a small example of departments in our federal government that should not exist.