Still Standing With Rand?

In a cartoonishly anti-progressive, anti-democratic move, Senators Rand Paul and Tom Coburn have introduced a bill that would effectively nullify Congress’s power to regulate large swaths of the economy.

via Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress

More than three-quarters of the Senate Republican caucus signed onto legislation introduced Wednesday by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Rand Paul (R-KY) that could render it virtually impossible for Congress to enact any legislation intended to improve working conditions or otherwise regulate the workplace. Had their bill been in effect during the Twentieth Century, for example, there would likely be no nationwide minimum wage, no national ban on workplace discrimination, no national labor law and no overtime in most industries.

Like many Tea Party proposals to neuter the federal government, Coburn and Paul’s bill is marketed as an effort to bring America back in line with a long-ago discarded vision of the Constitution. It’s named the “Enumerated Powers Act of 2013,” a reference to the provisions of the Constitution outlining Congress’ specific powers, and it claims to require all federal legislation to “’contain a concise explanation of the specific authority in the Constitution’ that is the basis for its enactment.”

The key provision in this bill, however, would revive a discredited interpretation of the Constitution that America abandoned nearly eight decades ago. Although the text of the bill is not yet available online, a press release from Coburn’s office explains that it “[p]rohibits the use of the Commerce Clause, except for ‘the regulation of the buying and selling of goods or services, or the transporting for those purposes, across boundaries with foreign nations, across State lines, or with Indian tribes.’”

Translated into layman’s terms, this means Rand Paul’s bill would render federal regulation of production and labor standards unconstitutional because the Commerce Clause would no longer grant the federal government that power. The Commerce Clause would only grant the federal government the power to regulate the sale or transport of goods, not the production of goods.

Regulation of production and labor would apparently be left up to each state, and if your state chooses not to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and chooses not to adopt a minimum wage, no one else will have the power to help you.

It’s libertarian states’ rights fetishism co-sponsored by a majority of Senate Republicans including future presidential hopefuls Macro Rubio and Ted Cruz. And who knows? The existence of minimum wage and the merits of workplace discrimination could become campaign issues in 2016. Anything is possible with today’s GOP.

The “Enumerated Powers Act of 2013″ is obviously dead on arrival, but it’s good to know where certain people stand. Do you stand with Rand?

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  • muselet

    These people couldn’t be more obvious if they cackled and twirled their mustaches.

    Bad ideas never die. The House started requiring “specific Constitutional authority” for all bills as soon as the Rs took control—then promptly (and quietly) dropped that requirement when none of the Rs proposing legislation could do more than point vaguely at the Constitution and grunt.

    What is somewhat surprising, however, is the sheer breadth of support for Coburn and Paul’s discredited view of the Constitution within the Senate Republican Caucus. According to Coburn’s press release, their bill is cosponsored by “Senators Ayotte (R-NH), Barrasso (R-WY), Blunt (R-MO), Boozman (R-AR), Burr (R-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Coats (R-IN), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), Cruz (R-TX), Enzi (R-WY), Fischer (R-NE), Flake (R-AZ), Graham (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Heller (R-NV), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT), McCain (R-AZ), McConnell (R-KY), Moran (R-KS), Risch (R-ID), Roberts (R-KS), Rubio (R-FL), Scott (R-SC), Sessions (R-AL), Thune (R-SD), Toomey (R-PA), Vitter (R-LA), and Wicker (R-MS).”

    But both sides are the same! It doesn’t matter which party you vote for!

    If you believe that, name thirty-six Senate Ds who would sign on to this madness. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

    –alopecia

    • blackdaug

      An army of fresh (white) faced congressional staffers, works tirelessly researching ways to construct new laws for their geezer (rich white) bosses, in a never ending war against the “poors” and brown people; While the bosses hop a plane out of town to fund raise.
      It’s no longer a legislative body, its an obscene joke.

    • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

      I totally agree!
      And that: “both sides do it” or “Obama is Bush II” meme is ridiculous, self defeating for progressives, as well as being just plain stupid.

  • js hooper

    Constitutional Hero Rand Paul

    / Cenk Uygur, Glenn Greenwald, David Sirota, Cornel West, Huffington Post, Code Pink etc etc

    • drspittle

      Don’t forget Salon.

  • Victor_the_Crab

    When it comes to drones they sure as hell do. But shit like this, they couldn’t be bothered.

  • trgahan

    Can we also use this as another example of how close we are (a few senate seats and one president) from a “Fuck you if you’re net worth isn’t already over $10 million! ” economy? But Drones and Weed…I know…

  • KaceyL

    Being Canadian born, how can Ted Cruz be a future presidential hopeful?

    • vgranucci

      Cruz is an American citizen from birth. His mother was a citizen at the time of his birth, although his father was not. The issue is whether that meets the definition of a “natural-born” citizen as required by the constitution. I expect if he does run, we’ll hear ‘crickets’ from the birthers.

      • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

        I don’t think the parents’ nationality matters.
        From my understanding, it’s where (geographically speaking) the child is born.
        If Cruz was born on Canadian soil he would have to become a naturalized American citizen through an immigration process unless he was born in a US embassy or US military base.
        That’s how I understand it anyway.

        • vgranucci

          Actually, a naturalized citizen is not considered “natural-born”. No court has ruled on the status of a person born abroad of U. S. citizen parent(s). However, George Romney (Mitt’s father) was born in Mexico of U. S. citizen parents and ran for the Republican nomination in 1968.

          • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

            ‘Actually, a naturalized citizen is not considered “natural-born”.’ Agreed and they are therefore ineligible to become President.
            John McCain was born in Panama on a US base and considered an American born citizen.
            Side note: I lived in developing countries in South, Central America and the Caribbean for a couple decades and it was common practice for pregnant women to travel to the US and stay with friends and family so that their child could be born American. They did the same thing with England and Canada too.
            I don’t know the specific laws, I’m just speaking from what I saw.

      • MikeyArmstrong

        I was born in Puerto Rico to an American mother and I can’t be president because I was born in, wait for it, Puerto Rico. Cruz can never be president of the United States, period, end of story.

  • astrocat96

    It seems like every day I find myself reading a story about Republicans, shaking my head and muttering to myself, “What assholes…”

    • FlipYrWhig

      They’re on an unbroken streak going back to, let’s see now, carry the one… 1964. They’re the Joe DiMaggios of douchebaggery.

  • rootless_e

    That Commerce clause interpretation is directly taken from the Confederate Constitution