January 19th, 2010

Utah Senator Bob Bennett is No Friend of the Constitution


photo credit: Deseret News

Due primarily to the influence of a large number of members of the LDS Church, Utah has an interesting political dynamic with regards to the Constitution. A majority of residents would agree with the statement that the Constitution is an inspired document, and many profess a love of and respect for this foundation of our government. More importantly, there are many who are willing to promote and defend its principles—evidenced by the swelling ranks and increased activity of organizations such as the Campaign for Liberty, Tea Party Patriots, 9/12, Patrick Henry Caucus, John Birch Society, and others.

At a time when our Constitution is being ignored, subverted, and dismissed as an anachronistic piece of history, we have seen a number of individuals who are concerned enough to offer their services in its defense by stepping into the 2010 Senate race. Many of the positions held by these candidates are familiar to Utahns because they are based in the Constitution, founded upon the principles of liberty, and resonate with individuals seeking to get the federal government off of their backs and out of their wallets.

Three-term incumbent Senator Bob Bennett, however, appears clearly out of step with this adherence to the Constitution and out of touch with his constituents. So foreign is his message to those he portends to represent that in one recent “fireside chat” he stated that he was holding such meetings to “reintroduce [himself] to the people of Utah.” A recent poll showed that 73% of Republicans voters feel that congressional Republicans have lost touch with their base. Senator Bennett, then, certainly has plenty of company.

Speaking with campaign platitudes such as “the fight is now,” Bennett has crafted a campaign speech based on scary numbers, Democrat blunders, and the perilous situation in which we find ourselves as a nation. Notably, the only mentions of the Constitution on his campaign site, with one minor exception, are from others leaving comments on his posts. Senator Bennett simply does not speak the language of the Constitution.

Nowhere is this better demonstrated than by the Senator’s words, attitudes and approach to his own work and legislation. When Senator Bennett was asked regarding the constitutionality of the health care bill he has worked on—a bill which, like Obama’s version, would include a forced mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance—the following response was made:

Bennett said this week that the constitutional issues never came up as they crafted their health care fix. He said he looked at the individual mandate in health care as something analogous to the requirement to have car insurance.

Never mind the fact that the car insurance reference is a poor comparison full of holes, so much so that one is left wondering how a three-term Senator could even relate the two. More important here is the frank admission that when crafting a significant—though detestable—piece of legislation, Senator Bennett did not even bother considering whether he and his colleagues even had the constitutional authority to do any of it.

Lest the reader think that this is an anomaly in an otherwise stellar career of constitutional advocacy, it becomes necessary to dig a little deeper to gain a better understanding of why Senator Bob Bennett is no friend of the Constitution. Upon assuming office for each of his three terms, this man (like all of his colleagues) made an oath which says, in part, that he would “support and defend the Constitution.”

In this, Senator Bennett has failed.

The reader’s attention span and this article’s succinctness require that only a select few of Senator Bennett’s votes be cited as evidence of his indifference towards (if not disdain for) the Constitution. This author has identified, at the time of writing, a total of 84 votes by the Senator on controversial, significant, or otherwise notable pieces of legislation which stand in stark contrast to the limited powers conferred by “We, the People” to Congress and the principles of liberty enshrined in the Constitution. A few examples will suffice to illustrate Senator Bennett’s unfriendliness towards this document.

Trade Promotion Authority

In November of 2001, the House of Representatives passed a bill to give President Bush “Trade Promotion Authority” (previously called “fast-track authority”) in order to negotiate so-called “free trade” agreements. By passing this bill, Congress was limiting its own legislative powers since they would only be able to vote up or down on the President’s proposed agreements. Just as European countries have seen a loss of sovereignty with the expanding power and influence of the European Union, so too would the United States be further bound by agreements that are publicly labeled as “free trade” but in reality are bureaucratic-managed trade imposing onerous regulations, siphoning money, and diminishing the sovereign power of our own legislative bodies to determine what is best for our country.

The Senate version of the bill went a step further by expanding trade agreements, and increasing the entitlement programs under the Trade Adjustment Assistance—an individual bailout agency which provides benefits, subsidies, and other financial assistance for workers who lose their jobs as a result of foreign competition. Senator Bennett joined 65 of his colleagues in voting for this bill. At the time of its passage, the Congressional Budget Office calculated that it would have a net negative impact of $12 billion over the next decade.

Agriculture Emergency Assistance

A farm bill was proposed in the Senate in late 2001 to reauthorize the federal government’s many (un-constitutional) agricultural programs. One of the 245 amendments was proposed by Senator Baucus (D-MT) which would amend the bill to mandate $2.35 billion in emergency agricultural assistance, including $1.8 billion for a crop disaster program, $500 million for livestock, and $100 million for apple growers—essentially, a bailout for the agricultural industry.

According to Senate rules, a point of order is allowed if any change in spending would exceed the totals established by Congress in the Budget Act, and 60 votes (three-fifths of the Senate) are required to dismiss the point of order and carry on with the business. This amendment qualified under the terms here described, and Senator Lugar (R-IN) raised the point of order. The vote to dismiss this point of order (or in other words, the vote to support this massive bailout and shut down an attempt to question its fiscal wisdom) passed by 69-30.

Senator Bennett was among those who supported this bailout. The amendment then proceeded and was successfully passed on a voice (unrecorded) vote.

One year later brought the same thing, only at a higher cost. In debate on the appropriations bills House Resolution 5093, Senator Dashcle (D-SD) proposed an amendment to provided nearly $6 billion in “disaster” aid to farmers affected by drought. This money came in addition to what was appropriated the previous May in the 10-year farm bill, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cost $781 billion.

As happened previously, a point of order was raised, and Daschle made a motion to wave the Budget Act with respect to his amendment. This motion—another vote in support of a bailout for the agricultural industry—was passed on September 10, 2002 by a vote of 79 to 16. Senator Bennett voted in favor of this bailout, helping lead to a voice vote passing Daschle’s amendment.

Debt Limit Increase

On May 23, 2003 the Senate passed House Resolution 51 by a vote of 53 to 44. This resolution raised the public debt ceiling by $984 billion (after being raised by $450 billion the year previous). On September 27, 2007 the Senate passed House Resolution 43 by a vote of 53 to 42, raising the debt limit by $850 billion to a new high of $9.8 trillion. This was the fifth increase in the debt limit since 2002, representing a $3 trillion increase over the previous five years. The debt limit has been raised several other times, of course, but showing just these two votes is an interesting snapshot when contrasted with the fact that while Senator Bennett voted for these big-government debt increases, he voted against raising the debt limit when the President pushing for the increased debt had a “D” after his name, rather than an “R”.

Prescription Drug Benefit

On November 25, 2003 the Senate voted 54 to 44 to pass the final conference report of House Resolution 1. This version created a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients which would heavily subsidize the purchase of drugs for seniors and low-income recipients. The total cost of this un-constitutional program was projected at the time of passage to be $434 billion, was revised one month later to be $534 billion, and just over one year after that was projected to cost $1.2 trillion over the decade following its enactment. According to one report, this benefit program alone “adds some $17 trillion to the projected Medicare shortfall — an amount greater than all of Social Security’s unfunded obligations.”

Senator Bennett was among those voting for this un-constitutional subsidization of medicine and bailout for seniors and low-income families.

The Mother of All Bailouts

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (which, of course, did not stabilize the economy) passed 74 to 25 in the Senate on October 1, 2008.

This bill, as most know, authorized the Treasury Department to enjoy a $700 billion line of credit (of taxpayer money) to purchase “troubled” mortgage-related securities from banks and other financial institutions. This bailout also increased the FDIC protection for bank accounts from $100,000 to $250,000, extended dozens of tax provisions set to expire, and increased incentives for renewable energy development and use, among other things. The fear-based argument used to justify political support for this bailout—that the lending markets were frozen, the economy was on the cliff and it needed a “jump start”—have since proven false. Senator Bennett bought into this fear hook, line, and sinker as demonstrated by a recent statement in which he said:

I strongly believe we did the right thing by passing the initial round of TARP to make credit available and avoid a collapse of the entire system.

Conclusion

Senator Bob “Bailout” Bennett will feel the heat on the campaign trail this year as he attempts to justify his votes and defend or redefine his record. Perhaps he agrees with then-President Bush who, defending his own support for the bailouts, declared, “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.”

Just as one cannot save the free market by abandoning the principles upon which it is founded (and, in fact, promoting government action which would have a damaging effect on the very thing supposedly trying to be saved), one cannot save the Constitution by repeatedly ignoring its restrictions on authority.

Senator Bennett has found it necessary to “reintroduce” himself to the people of Utah no doubt because he is unrecognizable as a Senator who has sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution, because he failed to stand up and carry out that oath. Perhaps this analysis is what led the President of the Club For Growth to recently state that “Bob Bennett is out of touch with the times and with his state, and Utah Republicans have better choices for their candidate in November.”

Jesus Christ once taught his followers that “by their fruits ye shall know them”. One can only assume that Senator Bennett is a kind and friendly individual, but his fruits—of which only a very small portion have been highlighted in this article—clearly demonstrate who Bennett is not, and that is a friend of the Constitution.

56 Responses to “Utah Senator Bob Bennett is No Friend of the Constitution”

  1. Jeffrey T
    January 19, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    I tried to find out what Bob Bennett’s political stances are by visiting his website—he doesn’t list them. He assumes that “Republican” is enough of a clarification of his political beliefs.

  2. Jeffrey T
    January 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Connor,

    It may help your point a little to include a large number of examples in rapid, bullet-point format, rather than just extensive paragraphs on a few of them.

  3. Frank Staheli
    January 19, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    Connor: Welcome to the Defriended-by-Bennett club! For me it was exhilarating that he could not take the heat of a very pointed but not rude question on my part a month or two ago.

    I feel it coming. Bennett is history, and for good reason. We deserve far better. In addition to the items you list above, his vote on allowing wiretapping and surveillance for just about any reason is reason enough to send him packing.

    Mike Lee is the anti-Bennett. In other words, what makes Mike Lee doubly attractive in this race is that he is Constitutionally everything that Bennett is not. Utahns have a great deal of integrity in religious matters. I suspect that this election will be a healthy turning point–that their political integrity will catch up with their religious integrity to a great degreed by voting for someone who does not absolutely disdain the Constitution.

  4. Joseph
    January 20, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Looks like the followers of Madison are trying to hold the Hamiltonians accountable for not adhering to Madison’s view. That’s just silly.

  5. Jacqueline Smith
    January 20, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    I have listened to Bob Bennett in this “phone call” town hall meetings. Very frustrating, because if you ask a question you are muted after, and cannot ask him to elaborate or even give any kind of rebuttal. You are right on Connor, and I’m grateful you are putting your words out there.

    If you live in Summit or Wasatch County, I’m the Summit County Co-ordinator, and working on Wasatch County as well. We are ready to hand Bob Bennett his pink slip. JOIN US. http://www.theSTARforum.org STAR stands for Save The American Republic.

  6. Brad Caldwell
    January 20, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    Mike Lee will make a wonderful Senator. The federal government needs to go back to the original intent of the founding fathers and have limited government. For this to happen the states have got to pick up the slack on things like education. It is the chicken and egg problem. With education for example, Utah leans heavily on the feds for funding. Until out legislature is able to match what they are giving now plus what the feds are giving us we cannot tell the feds to take a hike. I say we should elect Mike to go fight to end these non constitutional mandates and at the same time ask our legislature to put up or shut up.
    Mike has my vote.

  7. David
    January 20, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    Oldjarhead,

    I don’t think you can say that Mike Lee is just like Bennett even if you don’t favor the flat tax and the database. His understanding and committment to the Constitution are almost the polar opposite of Bennett.

    Personally I’m not gung-ho about the database idea either, but as for the flat tax, who’s to stop COngress from raising it to 90%? – We the people. While I would love to see the income tax abolished the fact is that our current tax system has 40% of the population paying nothing in taxes which means 40% of the population who have nothing to lose (that they can see) when government serivces cost too much or when they are expanded. On top of that we have another 30% of the population who pay less in taxes than “their fair share” (being defined as the same proportion as they make in income) for the services that we have. Suddenly there is only 30% of the population that is financially motivated to keep government limited – no wonder it is growing out of control. A flat tax would go a long way toward fixing that because virtually all the voters would be paying for the expanding government.

    Now my challenge to you – if you don’t think Mike Lee is not good enough show me any candidate better than him. If he’s headed toward the cliff at 30 mph let me know who in this race is headed there at 25 mph. As far as I have been able to find none of the other candidates are better than (or even as good as) Mike.

  8. Oldjarhead
    January 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Brad, David,

    I appreciate your comments – well reasoned, polite debate always helps to clarify one’s own thoughts.

    However, I have decided that I will not vote for the “lesser of two evils” anymore. I voted for Reagan. And saw great expansion of gov’t and erosion of freedom (think “asset forfeiture” and “dept of education expansion”, rather than abolishment, as had been promised, etc.)

    I have decided, that for me, voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil, and I won’t do it. If there is no one worthy of my vote, then I vote for “none of the above”.

    To continue with the cliff analogy, I won’t vote for or support anyone who wants to drive off the cliff.

    Several years ago, I helped campaign for a candidate who was “principles- driven” (as opposed to “issues – driven”) he told everyone what the principles were, and from that, I could tell you where he stood on any issue.

    Please tell me (and this is a sincere request) what Mike Lee’s prinicples are. From reading his website, I can tell you a couple of them: He supports the Income Tax. He supports gov’t tracking of all Americans (unless you can certify who is allowed to work and who isn’t without it. I can’t think of a way.) He supports the Second Amendment to the Constitution, (but doesn’t clarify what that entails – would he keep the ATF?)

    There are more, of course, but those were the ones that jumped out.

    For contrast, I know what Ron Paul’s principles are, so I can easily tell you where he stands on any issue.

    I wish you all the best!

  9. Connor
    January 20, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Oldjarhead,

    I don’t vote for the lesser of two evils, either. And yet I’m supporting Mike Lee. Chew on that. :)

  10. David
    January 20, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    Oldjarhead,

    I don’t condone voting for the lesser of two evils either – I choose to vote for the best person I can find. I voted none of the above in the 2008 presidential race but I can’t find a better candidate than Mike – even among people who are not running. If you think there are better positions to support than Mikes find a someone who supports those and encourage them to run – even if it’s yourself.

  11. Brad Caldwell
    January 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    Mike is an amazing individual. I think you should express your concerns in constitutional terms to Mike. Ask him the questions and then if you decide not to vote for him then that is your choice. I know of nobody out there who understands the proper role of government better than Mike. Mike will act upon that knowledge and make great decisions. I wholeheartedly support Mike Lee because I know him and absolutely trust him to do the right thing based on correct principles and constitutional mandates.

  12. Jacqueline Smith
    January 20, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    You talk about voting … will you even get the chance? The problem we have in our state is that most people don’t really understand the process. In order for Mike Lee to be on the ballot at all, or Cherilyn Eagar, or James Williams, or Tim Bridgewater, all who are running for this seat, the STATE DELEGATES must elect them instead of Bob Bennett. If you want to have SAY on who that person is on the ballot in November, join the Repbulican party, and become a delegate. There are many of us that can help you in this process. If you want to connect with someone that will teach you the precinct process go to http://www.utahrising.com and find a county coordinator in your area.

  13. rachel
    January 20, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

    I agree completely, Connor. Mr. Bennett needs to find a new job, and while we’re at it, let’s send Mr. Hatch packing as well. I’m not familiar with Mike Lee. So far I have liked Cherilyn Eagar, but I admit, I have been preoccupied with other things and haven’t been following the race very closely. As a current Republican Party state delegate, I get a call about once a week for some survey that is obviously being paid for by Mr. Bennett. I think he is running scared.

  14. Marc
    January 21, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    I am planning on running as a delegate in weber county just so I can help get rid of Hatch and Bennett. I will only cast a vote for someone who is principled. A public database is not the answer and neither is a flat tax. The IRS needs to be abolished! FED needs to be abolished! The 16th an17th amendments need to be repealed.

  15. Jim Davis
    January 21, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    Rachel, I also like Cherilyn Eager (or at least I like a lot of the principles she speaks about) but I don’t love her. She has a loose interpretation of the enumerated powers granted to the legislative branch in article 1, section 8 of the US Constitution. She claims that the ‘necessary and proper clause’ (which many legislators have interpreted to mean they can do whatever they want) gives her authority to legislate things not enumerated in the Constitution. She does this while at the same time advocating the 9th and 10th amendments. But you can’t claim that congress has the authority to legislate anything it deems necessary while at the same time advocating that the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states/people. She’s inconstant.

    As for those of you who have raised concerns about Mike’s stance on a database and/or flat tax, why don’t you ask him to clarify his stance on those issues? Every issue I’ve asked him to clarify he has sited under which enumerated power congress has the authority to legislate and by what moral ground he feels congress should act. He’s not founding father material in my mind but he will at least bind himself down to the Constitution that they created. I can’t say the same about Bennett or Eager though.

  16. Jacqueline Smith
    January 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    Wow, Jim … That stance on Cherilyn is the exact opposite impression I was given. I felt she talks about that clause and says that is what Congress has been doing, and that is NOT right. Necessary and proper to legislate ONLY WITHIN their limitations is what I take from what she has said. I just really think you must have misinterpreted some of the things Eagar has said. I feel Eagar has a little more “fire” than Mike, but I think Mike is extremely well versed. I would like to see a primary between the two of them, and give the people a chance to pick the better of the two Consitutional candidates.

  17. Clay Winston
    January 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    Mike Lee is no friend of the Constitution. On his campaign website he advocates continuing social security and medicaid. Where in the constitution does it allow for those programs? Also, if Mike Lee is so intent on clearing up the meaning of the constitution why doesn’t he seek a position in the courts which have gained that power? Mike Lee only seems to be saying the right things but I HIGHLY doubt he would follow through with half of what he has said.

  18. Connor
    January 21, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    Ha, I love it!

    Our friend Clay Winston accessed my blog by searching “Senator Bennett” on http://blogsearch.google.com. Even better is that, based on his IP address, he’s accessing this blog from the network operated by the United States Senate in Washington, D.C.

    Gee, I wonder who Mr. Winston is a fan of? Bennett’s operatives are now trying to discredit their biggest foe, Mike Lee, so that they can keep their job. Sorry, Mr. Winston, but your anti-Mike stuff won’t fly here.

  19. Connor
    January 21, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    Jacqueline, I have private correspondence that clearly shows that Cherilyn’s interpretation of the general welfare and necessary and proper clauses is far out of line with the proper role of the federal government according to the Constitution—all in the name of regulating “debauchery”. When challenged to back up her position, she stopped replying to me. I’d be happy to give you more details privately.

  20. Jeffrey T
    January 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    This is hilarious!!! If Clay is a supporter of Bennett, does he realize that Bennett has promised to exert any and all efforts to continue Social Security as long as he is able? He made this promise to my face, in a personal conversation. And yet he accuses Mike Lee of supporting these “unconstitutional” programs?

  21. S. Logan
    January 21, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    I’m curious — what is Mike Lee’s stance on continuing Social Security (and all other government entitlement programs) besides honoring the government’s commitment to those who have already paid in? Any talk of phasing out the SSA and other such organizations all together?

  22. Russell
    January 22, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    Welcome to the Internet “Clay”

  23. Rocky N
    January 28, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    I’ve heard both Cherilyn and Mike speak and I think that they both have an excellent grasp on the Constitution. However I have a real concern about how “slick” a speaker Mike is. The problem is, I don’t see any depth in him. Get past the constitution, and there’s nothing there.

    What track record does he have in politics? Cherilyn has 30 years of working for candidates and creating 501C3 organizations fighting various causes for the family.

    But my biggest beef with Mr. Lee is that he legally represents Energy Solutions who wants to dump toxic waste in Utah, while Utah doesn’t want it. So who will he REALLY represent?

  24. Brad C
    January 28, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    Rocky
    If you don’t see depth in Mike then you need to get to know him better. You need to understand the difficulty he had in deciding to run and the internal desire to make a difference in our great land and right the wrongs that are happening in Washington. Spend the time to know the man and you will find the leader we need.
    When it comes to energy solutions, blame the state legislature for allowing it in the first place and ask our fellow conservatives why they allowed it. Mikes company was hired to help energy solutions hold our lawmakers to the laws and rules they made.
    Mike is a great guy and will have my vote.

  25. Connor
    February 3, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    Check out what Senator Bennett said today during his campaign kickoff with Neocon Newt Gingrich:

    I think we should be a little bit careful in saying ‘all we need to do is have everybody honor his or her oath of office to the Constitution’ because there are as many versions as to what the Constitution really means as there are careful examiners of the wording and history of it.

    Here’s a video of it.

  26. David
    February 4, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    How in the world can people trust someone who thinks being bound by their own voluntary oath is optional – who won’t even attempt to defend their actions as being in keeping with that oath?

  27. Liz
    March 24, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    Connor. You are way smart. I knew you in SD when you were a peanut. I agree that Bob Bennett has to go. I am suspicious of Mike Lee…..based on the very little I have viewed and heard, I agree with some here he seems a tad superficial. Cherilyn Eager comes across as much more genuine. Do more research and help everyone come to a consensus.

    At the SLC area caucus tonight, it was a standing room only crowd, and the common themes were repeal Obamacare and boot Bennett.

  28. Liz
    March 24, 2010 at 12:18 am #

    No dude by far this is the highest tech site I’ve seen. You truly are the IT generation.

  29. Jim Davis
    March 24, 2010 at 2:50 am #

    Liz, I’m glad you say you are suspicious of a certain candidate. We should always have a healthy amount of skepticism when we choose our representatives. I’m still reserving a healthy amount with each candidate- Cherilyn Eager and Mike Lee included. To be honest, I never thought someone would accuse Mike Lee of being superficial and in the very next sentence say the Eager is genuine. Eager says a lot of good things and she’s probably sincere in her beliefs… but she’s not superficial??? I’m not disqualifying her for it but her demeanor reminds me of a conservative version of Nanci Pelosi…superficial indeed!

    Read comments 16, 17, and 20 to educate yourself a little bit more about some things that might persuade you otherwise in regards to Eager. She’s better than Bennett but she’s not a strict Constitutionalist either.

  30. Liz
    March 25, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    Yep Jim, thanks for the feedback. I haven’t seen either of them speak in person, just read transcripts, or radio clips. Mike Lee does not have what I consider to be an “in depth” understanding of the Constitution. He kind of made me think about Mark Shurtleff, who I met at a Tea Party. He smiled and gave us free stuff, but he had trouble making eye contact. I got the feeling he had a following that was encouraging him to run, but his reasons weren’t personal. He’s dropped out since I guess. It was more like a career move for him, rather than principle-based, it seemed to me.

    Cherilyn has a deeper understanding of the Constitution, and she has what I consider to be greater life experience it seems to put it into context. She also has a more focused agenda. That can be good and bad. But I feel like with her, it’s personal. She’s after something. I respect that.

    And honestly I don’t know jack about Bridgewater.

  31. David
    March 26, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    It amazes me how differently different people can vie the same thing. You don’t think that Mike Lee has a deep understanding of the Constitution and that he’s not in the race for deeply personal reasons.

    Having talked to Cherilyn and Mike personally on multiple occasions each I feel that both of them are in the race for deeply personal reasons but that neither of them would be in the race without the encouragement of key supporters. As for an understanding of the Constitution – the Constitution seems to permeate Mike’s thinking on all political subjects while Cherilyn seems to be versed in only selected passages of the Constitution which she them pulls out as campaign talking points. Outside of the campaign I get the feeling that whole sections of the Constitution hold no meaning for her personally.

  32. Jeffrey T
    March 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    Liz,

    In my personal experience with Eagar, she has the shallowist understanding of the Constitution of any of Bennett’s competitors. She proposes legislation that are well outside of the enumerated powers of congress, and when asked where the Constitution authorizes it, she’ll just dodge the question.

    Mike Lee is a Constitutional scholar, but Eagar can’t even point to the passage of the Constitution that authorizes her proposed legislation.

  33. Liz
    March 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    Well good, I hope David and Jeffery are right, and that we don’t lose with Mike Lee. After all the effort to oust lifer Bob Bennett, it would be rewarding to have an improved situation. I do think it is leaning Mike Lee’s way.

  34. Pam
    April 6, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    Connor, thanks for your insight on Bob Bennett. I decided long before the 2008 election cycle that I would not support him when he was up for reelection. Your outlining some of his questionable votes has been very helpful. If you have more, please do share.

    I’m glad to see a host of good candidates challenge him, and I’ve been watching this race from the beginning. My early choice was Cherilyn Eagar, but as others (notably, Mike Lee) have entered the race, I have taken a closer look at all of the candidates.

    Reading the comments of your readers and also many discussions on Facebook has been very helpful.

    I hope whatever the outcome at the state convention, all will be willing to drop the pre-convention debate and rhetoric and fully support whoever is selected as our candidate. If we end up with Senator Bennett in a position that he may go to a primary, I hope and pray that the delegates will get fully behind his closest competitor, to eliminate the primary. That may be our only hope of replacing him.

  35. vontrapp
    April 7, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    I don’t think Bennett would do well at all in a primary, so I’m not worried about that. I would encourage any delegate to support whoever they most agree with and want to support. “Uniting under a specific opponent” is just another version of the “lesser of two evils” doctrine. While whoever the delegates might choose to unite under might not be evil at all, the principle is you support who you have researched and believe in, and to not join a bandwagon for any other reason!

  36. Pam
    April 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    I wasn’t suggesting that on a first round vote, and wouldn’t.

    If you think Bennett doesn’t have a chance in a Primary, think again. Even here in Utah there are plenty of uneducated (politically) people who will vote based on name recognition/incumbency. For example, I have a good (conservative) friend who had no idea what kinds of things Bennett has put his vote behind, and besides “she knows the family”.

  37. vontrapp
    April 8, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    But generally speaking, the uninformed don’t go to primary, unless they have specific ties to the family that make them feel duty bound in some way, like your friend. I don’t think bennett has enough of those. The sleeping beast is awake, there’s no putting that genie back in the bottle. Just look at what happened with Cannon. No, I think the days of primaries in the bag for incumbents are past.

  38. vontrapp
    April 8, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    Is voting done in a drop off fashion until only two candidates are being voted on? If that is the case, I think it is safe to say that whichever candidate is up against bennett in the final round (if bennett even makes the final round) will pull the support of any delegates that are for one of the alternatives. A Mike Lee supporter would have a hard time voting for Bennett over Eager in such a round, for example. I just think this whole business of needing to find which candidate we can unite under is a bunch of bunk. It’s not a danger and it’s not necessary, just let people vote their conscience.

  39. The Man
    April 13, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    Too much of Utah is filled with unhealthy and irrational Armageddonism. Many need to step back, step away from the Tea Parties, step away from Move-on type organizations. It’s not healthy for democracy.
    No rookie Senator is going to get anything done for Utah. To many of all the people who post stuff here are completely ignorant to how things work in Washington. They are ignorant to what Bob Bennett has done for them. They ignorantly assume that anyone who loves the constitution and is an original interpretationist is fit get things done in Washington. How aloof.
    Many of you should stop watching the polarized extremities of news outlets, such as Glenn Beck, and take the personal responsibility to become informed on these issues. Many of you need to realize what it means to be conservative, and not ignorantly fall for this pathetic rationale that is plaguing Conservatism.
    Bad arguments, even for are a good cause, are never acceptable.

  40. Pam
    April 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    Spoken like a true Bennett supporter.

    Having “more of the same” who has helped to get us into this mess is not appealing to me at all. Bob Bennett has been on the banking committee as the banking meltdown took place — he with plenty of Fannie and Freddie backing. He didn’t see it coming? That’s a two-edged sword for him: if he didn’t see it, he should have. If he did, well, then why didn’t he shout it from the housetops when there was still time to change course?

    No, thanks. I may not be a political wizard, but I have common sense.

  41. Jim Davis
    April 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    Too much of Utah is filled with unhealthy and immoral pragmatism. Many need to step back, step away from the status-quo, step away from the one party system (disguised as a two party system). It’s not healthy for our republic.
    No rookie Senator is going to get anything done for Utah if they follow in Bennett’s footsteps. Someone who posted stuff here (comment 40) is completely ignorant to how things work in the Constitution. They are ignorant to what Bob Bennett has done in interpreting the Constitution and in protecting liberty. They ignorantly assume that anyone who loves the constitution and is an original interpretationist is unfit to represent Utah. How aloof.
    You should stop watching the polarized extremities of news outlets, such as CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc and take the personal responsibility to become informed on principles-first, then practicality. You need to realize what it means to be American, and not ignorantly fall for this pathetic rationalism-at-the-expense-of-principles that is plaguing America.
    Unprincipled arguments, even for are a good cause, are never acceptable.

  42. Jacqueline Smith
    April 13, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    Wow The Man, you must really think we are a bunch of dopes. 10 years ago I began studying REAL history. Long before Glenn Beck ever made it popular I traveled down the road of The 5,000 Year Leap, The Federalist Papers, Bastiet, Locke, Montesque, etc. Beck may be making this more main-stream, but that doesn’t make it non-sense.

    Mr. Bennett chose his fate the day he, and fellow Republican Orrin Hatch voted for the stimulus bill under the Bush administration.

    By the way, we’re a Republic…not a democracy.

  43. JJL9
    April 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    Question for The Man:

    Your debating point seems to focus on which news outlet we are watching, yet we are trying to focus on the Constitution of the United States of America. I didn’t hear anybody saying we need to support Glenn Beck or CNN or Fox or any such thing.

    My question for you is: if not the Constitution itself, what source do you turn to for basic guidance in choosing the best candidate?

  44. Mike
    April 14, 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    Jim Davis: Well Said!

  45. Jim Davis
    April 15, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    Thanks Mike! This guy I really looked up to had this to say about unprincipled pragmatism:

    “Unprincipled pragmatism is like advising someone who is hopelessly mired in quicksand not to struggle—so that he will merely sink more slowly!” –Neal A Maxwell (The Stern but Sweet Seventh Commandment, New Era, June, 1979)

  46. Clif
    April 28, 2010 at 7:32 am #

    Let me give you one man’s interpretation of the Constitution that I found intriguing….

    “The powers not delegated to the United States and the States belong to the people, AND THE CONGRESS SENT TO DO THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS HAVE ALL POWER.”

    This same person later said, “Raise your mind above the narrow notion that the General Government has no power, to the sublime idea that Congress, with the President as Executor, is as almighty in its sphere as Jehovah is in his.”

    Anybody care to guess who said those things?

    ….Joseph Smith.

    Just because you don’t like a law, doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional. I get really tired of hearing people say that this person or that person doesn’t follow the constitution when in reality what they should say is that they don’t follow their own private personal interpretation of the constitution.

  47. Jim Davis
    April 28, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    If Congress has all power, as Clif and Bennett suppose they do, then what’s the point of the enumerated powers in article 1, section 8 of the Constitution? What’s the point of the 9th and 10th amendments? What’s the point of having a Constitution at all?

  48. David
    April 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    The point of having a Constitution at all would be to establish the form of our government (bi-cameral legislative bracch along with separate judicial and executive branches). As far as amendments 9 and 10 and the enumerated powers in article 1 section 8 – if Congress has all power those are just a waste of paper.

  49. Clif
    April 28, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    Jim,

    You left a name out of your list. I think you meant to say “Clif and Bennett….and Joseph Smith” – after all, the quotes were his, not mine. Personally, I’m pretty happy to be in that company. I do grow quite tired of absolutists who feel that their interpretation of the constitution is the correct one and that everyone else is a constitutional apostate.

    Now, was I happy about the stimulus ? – of course I wasn’t. Nobody was. But look, the stimulus was absolutely necessary. Anybody that doesn’t think so really needs to take an economic history class and pay real close attention to what happened from 1928-1933. We’ve been down that road before. The contraction of the money supply that occured because of such policies was akin to throwing gasoline on a fire. Fortunately, we didn’t make the same mistake again. Sen. Bennett made the right vote.

    Where I do think Bennett is open to some justifiable criticism is in his complicity with decades of degregulation that allowed banks to take on huge risks. What angers me is that the government regulators, along with credit ratings agencies, were basically in bed with the banks all along. However, I think that electing a Tea Partier would only serve to make that problem even worse.

    If the problem came about because of lax regulation, I don’t see how electing someone with a philosophy of “lasseiz-faire or die” would do anything to help change that.

  50. Clif
    April 28, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    and as to the enumerated powers under Article 1 Section 8, the commerce clause, as well as the necessary and proper clause both show up there – so the idea that Bennett has no regard for the constitution is just plain silly. He was well within his rights to vote as he did and the law was perfectly constitutional.

    Again, you may not agree with the legislation personally, but there is a difference between legislation that is unconstitutional versus legislation that you just simply don’t like.

  51. David
    April 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Clif,

    You included and then ignored a crucial qualifier in you excerpts from what Joseph Smith wrote. For those who are interested, here is the source of Clif’s quote.

    The qualifier that you ignored was that the federal government is as almighty in its sphere as Jehovah. The quote is from a letter where Joseph is trying to pursuade someone to drop their excuse not to act in giving redress to the saints who had been driven from Missouri. Along with the bits Clif shared Joseph points to specific ennumerated powers from Article 1 section 8 (the first, fourteenth, and seventeenth powers listed for those who are curious) to demonstrate that what he was asking was withing the ennumerated powers (or in other words, the sphere of federal government authority) granted by the Constitution.

    As soon as Clif or someone else can point out where in the ennumerated powers of Congress there is authorization for things like TARP or the healhcare bill or whatever else we have argued against here then I’m sure you’ll get some willing ears. Until that happens please don’t use half a quote to prove that Senator Bennett is not ignoring the Constitution.

  52. Connor
    April 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    Clif,

    With regard to your first quote, Joseph is essentially discussing the necessary and proper clause. Congress does indeed have all power—in regards to the items for which they have been delegated authority. For all other things, Joseph notes, the powers are reserved to the people.

    With regard to the second quote, nobody here is arguing that the federal government has “no power”. Joseph notes that Congress is almighty in its sphere, just as God is in his. God must obey the boundaries that govern his omnipotent power, for if he did not, as Alma 42 explains, he would cease to be God. Congress’ “sphere” is essentially its enumerated powers, just as his first quote noted.

    Just because you don’t like a law, doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional.

    Nobody here is talking about laws they don’t like. These things Bennett has supported are unconstitutional on their face, lacking any grant of authority whatsoever. There are plenty of laws I don’t like that are constitutional.

    I do grow quite tired of absolutists who feel that their interpretation of the constitution is the correct one and that everyone else is a constitutional apostate.

    If you have a differing opinion, then feel free to argue your point with some substance. Simply saying that you think another person’s interpretation is wrong does not suffice.

    But look, the stimulus was absolutely necessary.

    No, it wasn’t. Not in any degree. The stimulus was (yes, indeed) an unconstitutional power-grab and intergenerational theft (we’ve had plenty of those in recent decades).

    Anybody that doesn’t think so really needs to take an economic history class and pay real close attention to what happened from 1928-1933.

    Been there, done that. We’re repeating the same process by pushing all sorts of government spending and programs, keeping the interest rate low, encouraging more loose credit, and distorting the market through repeated interference.

    Where I do think Bennett is open to some justifiable criticism is in his complicity with decades of degregulation that allowed banks to take on huge risks.

    Ah, the red herring: deregulation. Regulation has not ever been, nor will it ever been, the answer to our problems. We have mounds and mounds of regulation that have failed to prevent corrupt business practices and poor decisions. What we need is government to step out of the way and let businesses fail. If banks choose to assume risk and customers choose to patronage such institutions, then the poor decisions made should not be subsidized and glossed over by taxpayers, but should develop into their natural results of bankruptcy and failed enterprise. More layers of regulation solves nothing.

  53. Jim Davis
    April 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    If you read the necessary and proper clause you’ll see that it does not give congress the power to do whatever they want:

    To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

    The commerce clause has been distorted from its original intent. The federal government was to “regulate interstate commerce” which, when it was written meant to “make regular”- to ensure regular trade between the states.

    If congress can legislate whatever it wants then the 9th and 10th amendments are pointless:

    9th Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    10th Amendment: 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.

    And just to clear up this misunderstanding that Joseph Smith thought congress could legislate anything it wants:

    The different states, and even Congress itself, have passed many laws diametrically contrary to the Constitution of the United States…Shall we be such fools as to be governed by its laws, which are unconstitutional? No! . . . The Constitution acknowledges that the people have all power not reserved to itself. -Joseph Smith (HC 5:289-90; also in TPJS 278)

  54. Matt
    June 30, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Just listened to Bob Bennett give a 4th of July talk in DC area today at the temple visitor’s center. While I was happy that he believes that God had a hand in the founding of this country, I thought it was really interesting how he fit in some very neocon like themes into his talk.

    Notably, he talked all about how the constitution from the beginning has been open to interpretation, national banks are not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s cool that we are a better “empire” than all the others before us because we have done more good for the world. For example, we help keep peace in the world.

    I was like, oh wow, I guess he didn’t learn anything from losing that election a few years ago.

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