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March 27, 2009

GOP lawmaker blames Dems for his own ignorance of Constitution

Representative Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, was happy to join the torch-and-pitchfork mob that wants to seize the bonuses that were legally paid to AIG executives. It wasn't until later that he realized that he shouldn'ta hadn'ta gone and done that. Politico, March 26:
A top Republican now has buyer's remorse about his vote last week in favor of a punitive tax increase on AIG employees.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the top Republican on the budget committee, said Thursday he would have voted against the 90 percent tax increase if he had known that legal scholars would deem it unconstitutional.

"Now, that I know — which I didn't at the time — that this is unconstitutional, I wouldn't have voted the same way," Ryan said during a taping of C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" on Thursday — the show is set to air on Sunday.
Why did he need to hear from "legal scholars" to know that a targeted punitive tax was unconstitutional? I'm not legal scholar, but I have read the Constitution, and a plain reading of Article I, Section 9 makes it clear that Congress is prohibited from doing this kind of thing.

Ryan should have known this -- he really has no excuse. Or does he? Yes, he can blame the Democrats!
Ryan blames confusion about the constitutionality of the plan on Democrats for rushing the bill through the House.

"You rush this thing to the floor. Nobody had time to review it," Ryan said on the C-SPAN program, adding that lawmakers "got conflicting advice on it" before the vote.
It's their fault that my ignorance of the Constitution made it easy for the Dems to draw me into their mob frenzy!

While he now understands that the AIG tax bill is unconstitutional, he still thinks the AIG execs shouldn't receive their bonuses.
But the conservative still agrees with the underlying principle behind the bill.

"The message was sent that should have been sent," Ryan said. "These bonuses were completely ridiculous. They rewarded failure."
If only Congress had the power to punish every "completely ridiculous" -- but completely legal -- act done by private citizens.

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