Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 23, 2009

Consitutional Question on Revenge Taxes

I taught the standard course on American Government at West Point.  It was a graduation requirement for the United States Military Academy.  The tax bill against the AIG bonus folks amazes me.  No, actually, it depresses me.  Severely.

I can’t find this passage in the U.S. Constitution on the powers of the federal legislature: “Section 8.a. The Congress shall have the Power to lay a 90% tax on the contractual earnings of 71 persons, after the fact, employed by a corporation that took public funds.”  I looked again.

Yet, there is Section 9, “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto shall be passed.”

But, then, I was just an Assistant Professor and I’m not a lawyer who could write the tax law with the weasel lawyer words that make a Bill of Attainder and an ex post facto law into neither.  Nor, am I a politician who can’t tell the difference. 

Therein lies the rub.  All five Virginia Republican Congressmen voted for this revenge tax.  It doesn’t even rise to the low level of pandering.  It’s too despicable to even hold as high as contempt.

I can’t believe that it was “Et tu, Eric.”   I expected better from Cong. Cantor.

So, these are the same five Congressmen – with serious issues with the Constitution – who have lost confidence in Chairman Jeff Frederick.  Perhaps such criticism is more a badge of honor than a poltical burden.



  1. James,

    As much as I would like to conclude otherwise, I think the Constitutional argument against this tax are pretty weak:


  2. Doug, just because we have reached the point where some idiot can read anything he want to find in the Constitution into the Constitution does not mean the rest of us are suppose to do it. Unfortunately, it seems to have just about reached that point.

    Nothing lasts forever. Not even the republic people once called the United States. When we cease to elect honorable people to public office, our republic will pass away. And how will we know? They vote for bills that deserve nothing but contempt.

  3. Thanks CT: You understand the point. I haven’t seen the weasel wording of the bill. I have seen the clear wording of the Constitution – and I get it. Most Virginians do too, if you explain in plain English the meaning of bill of attainder and ex post facto.

  4. […] also found the opportunity for teaching moments.  Here he notes a highly inappropriate vote by Virginia’s Republican delegation to Congress.  Here […]

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