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Your Opinion: History lesson gives clue to fixing monetary policy

Your Opinion: History lesson gives clue to fixing monetary policy

September 7th, 2017 by Charles Scheppers, Jefferson City in Opinion

Dear Editor:

An Aug. 13 review of amendment proponents by Sophie Quinton asked, "Is changing the Constitution the only way to fix DC?" Actually, the monetary policy of DC today results from changes already made to the U.S. Constitution. Think tanks don't study much of the original Constitution to know it provided for honest money, balanced budgets and little ongoing debt.

During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, the proposed Article I Section 8 Clause 2 (Congress shall have power to borrow money and emit bills on the credit of the United States) was discussed; opinions were voiced both for and against giving Congress the power to issue paper money. The vote was nine to two striking out the words, "and emit bills," thus barring Congress from issuing paper money.

Article I Section 8 Clause 5 gave power to Congress to coin money, which Congress did and fixed the dollar at 371.25 grains of pure silver. In Article I Section 10, "No State shall make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts." These two sections complement each other, Congress being required to coin money and the states being required to enforce coin usage.

What happened to this? During the Civil War, Lincoln and Congress issued Greenbacks, paper money, to finance the war; this was accomplished under martial law. After the cessation of hostilities, people demanded debts to be paid in coin and cases went up to the supreme Court; however, Congress and the state legislatures had changed the U.S. Constitution.

Three provisions of the 14th Amendment affect money. Section 1 creates "persons" which are distinct from the legal status of original citizens of the several states. Section 4 says, "The validity of the public debt of the United States shall not be questioned." Section 5 says, "Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article," not by the "necessary and proper" clause of the original U.S. Constitution. Section 5 removes judicial review of acts of Congress under this amendment. Together, they mean this new class of persons cannot seek judicial relief from Congress' imposition of public debt.

Think tanks also do not study the far-reaching changes effected by the Reconstruction amendments. If anything needs to be changed to rein in DC, it must be the removal of the changes already made.