An Adult Steps up and Takes Control

Finally, an adult has stepped up and slowed down the AIG tax that has already passed the House. Senator Jon Kyl blocked the AIG tax and is keeping it from going any further lest even more damage could be done by rushing another poorly crafted piece of legislation through.

Sen. Jon Kyl, the Republicans’ vote counter, blocked Democratic efforts Thursday evening to bring up the Senate version of the tax bill to recoup most of the $165 million paid out by AIG last weekend and other bonuses in 2009. The House had swiftly approved its version of the bill earlier in the day.

By rushing, Kyl said, Democrats were letting populist outrage trump informed decision making in the Senate, which is supposed to be insulated from the pressures of public passion.

“I don’t believe that Congress should rush to pass yet another piece of hastily crafted legislation in this very toxic atmosphere, at least without understanding the facts and the potential unintended consequences,” Kyl said on the Senate floor. “Frankly, I think that’s how we got into the current mess.”

One of the concerns is the tax’s constitutionality. As Steve wrote on Wednesday, it violates the Constitution in several ways: it’s a Bill of Attainder, ex post facto, and it violates the Equal Protection clause. More commentators and media outlets are acknowledging and discussing these issues, putting more pressure on the Senate Republicans to stand up and take action. Thankfully, Kyl has.

Update: John Hinderaker at Power Line explains why every American should be worried about Pelosi’s AIG tax law:

Wells Fargo didn’t want any TARP money, but the government forced it to take more than $5 billion worth, so Wells Fargo employees who receive bonuses would be subject to Pelosi’s proposed tax. Say you’re a teller at a Wells Fargo branch in Minnesota and you’re married to a lawyer who makes $250,000 this year. You get a $10,000 bonus for your good work during 2008. The government steals it all (90 percent federal plus 8.5 percent state plus, unless it’s included in the 90 percent, 3 percent Medicare). That is simply insane.

If the Pelosi bill is actually enacted into law (which I still think is doubtful) and upheld by the courts, there is no limit to the arbitrary power of Congress. In that event, we have no property rights and there is no Constitution–no equal protection clause, no due process clause, no impairment of contracts clause, no bill of attainder/ex post facto law clause. Instead, we are living in a majoritarian tyranny.

Don’t make the mistake of dismissing John’s point as an exaggerating. If this law passes and makes it through the courts, which I highly doubt because it screams unconstitutional, then the government can write and pass special laws to punish, harass, and control anyone or any group it doesn’t like.

John explains further:

As I explained here, there is nothing wrong with the AIG bonuses and no reason why they should be repaid. But even if you think it was wrong for AIG to pay them, Pelosi’s proposed confiscatory tax–total taxes would exceed 100 percent in some jurisdictions–is an outrage. If Congress can appease a howling mob of demagogues by enacting discriminatory tax legislation against a group of people who are, for the moment, politically unpopular, even though the vast majority of them have nothing to do with the supposed problems that have given rise to popular outcry–imagine, say, Congress enacting a surtax on the incomes of all homosexuals in response to a notorious case of homosexual molestation–then the idea that the Constitution affords us any sort of protection against arbitrary government power is an illusion.

Hat tip: Mark Steyn at The Corner

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