Saturday, March 04, 2006

Radical Proposals About Congressional Power

Lately, the Bush administration and a whole host of supporters of a powerful Presidency have been trying to expand the powers of the Presidency.

But I’ve been reading a lot of radical libertarian and progressive left-wing political philosophy, and there's actually a pretty convincing case for keeping those powers out of the executive's hands and granting them instead to Congress. The extent of those powers might sound a little extreme, but there are good reasons for eventually granting them to Congress. So I'm hopeful that these ideas might some day turn to be important for how our nation is governed.

Here are the crucial powers that I think the Congress should have:

1) To set up courts inferior to the Supreme Court. [This could in theory include courts to try "enemy combatants."]

2) To declare war and to order punishments and retaliations short of declaring war. [Sure, the President is commander in chief, but it's the people's job to decide when to go to war and the commanders' job to figure out how to do it.]

3) To raise the military and to determine the nature and extent of its funding. [It's probably best to limit that funding to no more than two years per authorization in order to keep the military-industrial complex at least a little in check.]


4) To make rules saying what the military can, can’t, should, and shouldn't do. [The military is, at least in theory, the armed will of the American people, not the muscular arm of the President.]

For some background reading on these somewhat drastic proposals, you can check out this site.


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