When we speak of the constitution and it’s twenty-seven amendments since it’s ratification we always note a certain few that appear to be history making. If you don’t recall what the 17th amendment did don’t feel bad. I knew my subject here was an amendment but I had to look up which one it was. Don’t go running to look it up. I’ll tell you in short order.
Constitutional amendments aren’t a common occurrence so many of them are quite historic. Everyone remembers some of them and can quote them nearly from memory because they were so important and historic. Other amendments just seem to slip thru the cracks as incidental and unimportant. That’s why it may not come to mind exactly what the 17th is.
1913 was a very busy year. In 1913 the 16th amendment was passed. For those who may not remember.
Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratifi ed February 3, 1913.
(Note: Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution was modifi ed by the 16th Amendment.)
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
Yes that was the amendment that gave the federal government the power to directly tax citizens. Prior to that the states were taxed based on enumeration. The IRS was born.
I still haven’t gotten to the subject of the article but stick with me. Like I said 1913 was a busy year. Another event of 1913 was:
The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve, and informally as the Fed) is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913, with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907. Over time, the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System have expanded and its structure has evolved. Events such as the Great Depression were major factors leading to changes in the system.
The Congress established three key objectives for monetary policy—maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates—in the Federal Reserve Act. The first two objectives are sometimes referred to as the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate. Its duties have expanded over the years, and today, according to official Federal Reserve documentation, include conducting the nation’s monetary policy, supervising and regulating banking institutions, maintaining the stability of the financial system and providing financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions. The Fed also conducts research into the economy and releases numerous publications, such as the Beige Book.
Never let a crisis go to waste. We need big solutions and grand plans.Yes folks it was the birth of the “too big to fail” banking system. As you can see by the last wikipedia paragraph it’s grown up quite nicely. (I rarely source wikipedia but on things of such common knowledge I see no harm) Indeed 1913 was a busy year.
Which finally brings us to the subject of my post. It is possibly the least spoken of all constitutional amendments.
Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratifi ed April 8, 1913.
(Note: Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution was modifi ed by the 17th Amendment.)
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifi cations requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures. When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fi ll such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct. This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
At first glance you can see why it seems unimportant. All it did was change the way we elect US senators, but I submit this was a huge contributor to the fiscal situation we currently find ourselves in. See the federal reserve and the 16th amendment had only one flaw. Access.
Until the 17th amendment was ratified US senators were elected by state legislators. This was necessary to maintain the balance of power. The federal government was designed with three branches, but the legislative branch was split into two houses. One house known as the house of representatives is “the peoples house”. That is where the individual citizens are represented in the federal government. The senate was designed to represent the states interest in federal legislation. Prior to the 17th amendment senators were elected by the state legislators of their respective states. They served at the pleasure of those state legislatures and were sent to Washington as the state legislatures voice in federal government. US senators would logically have to lobby only their own states legislature for the position, and would be sent to Washington as presumably seasoned state legislators. With only the states interest in mind they would be a check against the new found power of taxation and monetary policy of the federal government.
After the 17th amendment US senators now have to lobby the people, and special interest groups to achieve and maintain their positions in the senate. It’s noteworthy to realize that the people and special interests have only one agenda. That is making sure they get their share of the federal governments liquidity newly created in 1913. The federal reserve, the16th and 17th amendments were all a package deal.
The 17th amendment was a huge step in dissolving the republic and moving it toward a democracy. If US senators only had their respective states legislatures to answer to do you think we would have “Obamacare”? If we did we would also have quite a few different senators this year that would repeal it.