As part of that delicate vertical balance between the states and the federal government, the states were able to retain control over the federal government by sending their representatives to their United States Senate – senators. The founders set up this vertical balance between the states and the federal government to include the Senate as the House of Congress that directly and solely represented the interests of the states. Senators were sent to Congress by the states’ legislatures as representatives of the states’ interests, and not as representatives of the people, with the state’s legislatures directly representing the people of their state. Thus the states as a collective union had the ability to control the central government and keep it from overreaching.
The founders gave the Senate special tools to control the central government in Article I, Section 3, and Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. In Article I, the Senate was given the sole authority to try and judge in cases of impeachment. In Article II, the Senate is given advice and consent (consent being the operative word) to limit the actions of the President and the Executive Branch. Approval of two-thirds of the Senate was needed to make treaties. In addition, the Senate was and is needed to provide advice and consent for the appointment of ambassadors, public ministers, Judges of the Supreme and inferior federal courts, and all officers of the United States. These include Generals of the military, cabinet members, and key aids to the President. That is unless the President finds ways to appoint czars who provide guidance and have no executive authority, other than very persuasive authority.
The progressives, using Randolph Hurst’s national media empire, whipped up populism and created a ground swell for the seventeenth amendment and the direct election of senators by the people. This served to remove the states’ control over the decisions of the Senate. The States’ actually considered petitioning for a convention for proposing amendments, under Article V, to grant the direct election of Senators to the voters. States actually were willing to give up the corner stone of the vertical check and balance that existed. The Congress, fearing that this convention would escalate into something more, hastily passed the seventeenth for ratification, to avoid the convention. Just how much popular opinion had been whipped up by the Hearst Newspapers – how much of a stampede of voters had the progressives created – just how powerful were these progressives in the very early twentieth century?
After the seventeenth, the Senate was now perfectly set up to be complicit in the shift of power from the States to the Congress and the Executive Branch – the Federal Government. The Senate was now the second people’s house in the national government, along with the House of Representatives – the limited States’ controlled federal republic should have been pronounced dead upon ratification; long live the national democratic central government.
The sixteenth amendment allowed the federal government to tax incomes of the citizens of the various states progressively and then to use tax money as it saw fit. This allowed for the manhandling of those resistant states. The federal government was now taking money from all states and then was sending money back disproportionately to compliant states and withholding money from non-complaint states. By force of collecting dollars from and withholding dollars from non-compliant states, coupled with the new powers of the central government from a compliant senate, mostly due to the seventeenth amendment, the agenda of the progressive socialists to destroy the vertical balance between the states and the federal government was now complete.
While the seventeenth radically altered the balance between the union of states and the federal government, the sixteenth amendment gave the federal government a club to bludgeon any state that did not fall into line. A typical scenario will have the federal government passing a social give-a-way to enhance its progressive status with citizens and requiring states to partially fund the give-a-way. Compliant states receive more federal money, taken from that state via the federal income tax, to off-set the cost, while less compliant states are hung out to dry.
From the time of ratification by the very states it would disarm, the sixteenth has reined in states’ rights and has been the enforcement tool to destroy that delicate balance between the states and the central government – it kicked off the progressive era, thus the tax is aptly called the progressive income tax.
In 1913, the progressives had two key victories, in the name of what was good for the people – the sixteenth and seventh amendments. This was the start of the 100 year process to change our economic structure from free market to socialism, to move us to unlimited central government governance, and to distribute our growing wealth to the rest of the world.
Was the sixteenth amendment required for the federal government to pass income tax legislation? Apparently so.
During the civil war we had an income tax, and it was progressive, wherein the rich were taxed at a hire rate than the poor on their income. The claim of Congress at the time was that we needed funds to pay for the Civil War. Even back then there were charges that the progressive income tax was not about the war; but that it was about redistribution of wealth. Clearing the path for the tax was the financial situation of the nation. It was dire due to; are you ready for this – a severe recession caused by Wall Street which created a panic and runs on our banking system. Even the New York Times back then was against this tax. Despite the Times, Congress successfully passed the progressive tax. Subsequently, the tax was repealed in 1872.
Congress again tried an income tax in 1894. Of interesting note, possibly with some connection, in the election of 1894 the Democrats lost over 100 seats to the Republicans. This tax never got started because the Supreme Court struck it down after allowing a more progressive tax during the Civil War. The progressives of the time from both parties then pushed a constitutional amendment through Congress and it was ratified by the states in 1913. Since then the progressive income tax, which taxes earners based on whether they have deep pockets, has been used to choose winners and losers. The tax code as of 2012 had 73,608 pages and has become the darling of special interests.