One of the biggest drawbacks to history as a popular culture event is that we have long ago lost the connection to those folks who “were there” when it happened. Prince Charles hinted at this yesterday when speaking about it being the last real opportunity we (corporately) would have to really connect with the D-Day Veterans. That was a mere seventy-five years ago. What about events a hundred years on?
It is an article of faith in the Conservative movement that Income taxes are “wrong.” Originalists will point to Sections 8 and 9 of Article I of the Constitution and screech loudly that the “Framers never intended for there to be an income tax!” Others will claim that somehow or another the 16th Amendment wasn’t properly ratified or some such AHT to support their claim that Income Taxes are not just wrong, but a socialist conspiracy.
No, this is really the place to argue the political positions of those who favor an income tax, but we do need to look at two things. First, the methodology by which it happened and second, the rationale behind it from a constitutional perspective.
On June 16, 1909, the President of the United States delivered to Congress a message proposing legislation for consideration that he felt necessary and expedient (Article II Section 3). In his message, President Taft proposed an increased excise tax and at the same time proposed that Congress adopt a resolution to amend the Constitution and allow a direct tax as an income tax.
It’s a rather remarkable example of a man who disagreed with modern interpretations of things but was willing to handle it in the manner which the Framers set up to handle such things…