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of the House to which it belongs, a committee does what it pleases with the bills referred to it, reporting them back as introduced, reporting them back with amendments, or, in most cases, paying no attention to them whatever. The committee may hear the author of a bill on its merits ; it may take evidence relative to the matter, or listen to arguments from citizens who are especially interested in it; it examines the subject in its own way, and declares its mind by the vote of its members. Frequently the bills that are reported back from committees are largely or wholly made over. The rules are so constructed as to place a certain amount of time each session at the disposal of each committee. There are also Special Committees, appointed like the regular ones, whose existence expires on the performance of their special duties. In May, 1892, the Senate had fortyfour standing committees; the House, fifty. Necessarily some members' names appear on several committee lists. In both Houses, and particularly in the Lower one, the several committees exercise great power over the course of legislation. This is especially true of the Committee on Rules, which often decides practically whether the House of Representatives shall consider a subject or not. Tbe Speaker, who appoints the committees, and is always a member of the Committees on Rules, is clothed with an enormous influence over law-making that lies wholly outside the pale of the Constitution and the laws. 1
1 Mr. Bryce, pointing out the evils of the Committee system, says: “Since the practical work of shaping legislation is done in committees, the interest of members centers there, and they care less about the proceedings of the whole body. It is as a committeeman that a member does his real work. In fact, the House has become not so much a legislative assembly as a huge panel from which committees are selected. Except in exciting times, when large questions have to be settled, the bulk of real business is done, not in the great hall of the House, but in this labyrinth of committee rooms and the lobbies that surround them." Vol. I., pp. 159-161. (1894.)
Prof. A. B. Hart observes : “The powers now exercised by the Speaker will probably be exercised by each succeeding Speaker, and will somewhat increase. Since the legislative department in every republic constantly tends to gain power at the expense of the executive, the Speaker is likely to become, and perhaps is already, more powerful, both for good and for evil, than the President of the United States." Practical Essays on American Government, p. 19. See also Woodrow Wilson, Congressional Government,
THE GENERAL POWERS OF CONGRESS.
The preceding sections constitute the two Houses of Congress and define some of their separate powers. We come now to a particular enumeration of what are called the general powers of Congress. Section 8 of Article I. is second in importance to no other section of the Constitution ; its eighteen clauses are the engine that drives the whole machinery of the Government, and without them that machinery would never have moved. Professor Johnson has well said: "The most solid and excellent work done by the Convention was its statement of the powers of Congress (in section 8 of Article I.), and its definition of the sphere of the Federal judiciary (in Article III).” The several clauses of the section all depend upon the declaration, “The Congress shall have power.”
I. TAXATION. Section 2, Clause 3.-Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be iucluded within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined, etc.
Section 8, Clause 1.-The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.
341. Necessity of this Power.-The National taxing power is very comprehensive, and properly stands at the head of the list of powers granted to Congress. Revenue is the life-blood of government. “Without the possession of this power,” says Justice Story, "the Constitution would have long since, like the Confederation, dwindled down to an empty pageant. It would have become an unreal mockery, deluding our hopes and exciting our fears. It would have flitted before us a moment, with a pale and imperfect light, and then have departed forever to the land of shadows."
342. Kinds of Taxes.-A tax is a regular pecuniary charge imposed by government upon the people for its own support. Capricious and arbitrary levies imposed by a conqueror or tyrant are not proper taxes. The Constitution makes two kinds of taxes, direct and indirect, although the second term is not used. The Supreme Court has decided that poll taxes, taxes on land and personal property, including taxes on income in both cases, are direct taxes.” Indirect taxes are collectively called duties, imposts, and excises without discrimination. Direct taxes, like Representatives, are apportioned among the States according to their respective numbers of population (Article I., section 2, clause 3); indirect taxes must be uniform throughout the Union. In 1820 the Supreme Court decided that the power of Congress to levy and collect taxes is coextensive with the National territory, but that it is optional with Congress to extend the laws imposing them over the Territories and District of Columbia. 3
343. Direct Taxes. Such taxes have proved to be much less important than was anticipated in 1787. The tax-gatherer is never a welcome visitor, and least of all when he pries closely into people's private affairs. Taxes on consumption, as on imports collected at a seaport, or on liquors, tobacco, etc., collected at the place of manufacture, have proved more consonant with popular feeling than taxes paid at the citizen's own door. Consequently, Congress has, in the main, abandoned the field of direct taxation to the States. Only five times in the history of the Government have direct taxes been levied : 1798, 1813, 1815, 1816, 1861. The several acts bearing these dates have declared the whole amount to be raised by the tax, as $2,000,000 in 1798 and $20,000,000 in 1861, and have apportioned the amounts among the States according to the constitutional rule; they have specified the property on which the tax shall be levied, and created machinery for its collection. The early acts placed the tax on slaves and lands, the last one placed it on lands alone. The tax of 1815 embraced the District of Columbia, and that of 1861 the Territories also. Some of these acts, as the last one, have offered the States the option of assuming the tax, coupled with a percentage for its collection. When this is done the State levies and collects the tax as it pleases. The States that formed the Southern Confederacy did not pay the tax of 1861 until the close of the War, and not then in full. In 1891 Congress refunded to the States, Territories, and District of Columbia what they had paid.
1 Writers on Political Economy, in distinguishing between direct and indirect taxes, do not draw the line where the Constitution draws it. As defined by them, a direct tax is one paid by the person on whom it is assessed, while an indirea tax is immediately paid by one person but ultimately paid by another.
2 Springer v. The United States, 102 U.S. 586. See paragraph 346. 3 Loughborough v. Blake, 5 Wheaton, 317.
Since 1861 the two great sources of revenue have been customs and internal taxes. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1897, the total income of the government was $430,387,167.89, of which customs yielded $176,554,126.65; internal revenue, $146,688,574.29; the postal service $82,387,167.89. The total expenditure for the same year was $448,438,622.30.
344. Duties, Imposts, and Excises. It is impossible to make close distinctions between these terms. The words no doubt include every form of indirect tax. Duties are customs levied on imported goods. Imposts are sometimes duties, but commonly the word is used in a broader sense, as synonymous with tax. Excises are internal taxes, as duties are external ones. The National taxes on whisky, malt liquors, and tobacco are all excises. It is said that the word excise is not found in the National laws, and in common speech internal taxes, or internal revenue, has taken its place. To distinguish between direct and indirect taxes has given rise to much litigation, and the Supreme Court has decided that taxes on carriages,' on the income of corporations, and on bank circulation are not direct taxes but excises.
345. Internal Revenue.- As already stated, what the Constitution calls excises are now known as internal taxes or internal revenue. At only two periods had such taxes been levied by Congress previous to the Civil War. From 1791 to 1803 some excises were imposed, and the Whiskey Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania resulted from the tax on whiskey. In 1813 war compelled the government again to resort to this form of taxation, but only to abandon it five years later. Some internal taxes were imposed in 1861, and the Internal Revenue Bureau was created the next year, Progressively, taxes are imposed upon almost everything that could be made to yield revenue. A high foreign authority has said that no other nation would have endured a system of excise duties so searching and burdensome. In 1801 the income from excises was $1,048,000; in 1816, $5,124,000; in 1866, $309,226,000. In 1866 the repeal of these taxes began and continued until but few were left. The Spanish War calling for more money, an act was passed bearing the date of June 13, 1898, which created once more an extensive system of internal revenue. Taxes are now levied on beers and ales, bankers and brokers, tobacco and the products manufactured from it, wines, insurance of all kinds, leases, and many other persons and interests, including a long list of stamp taxes.
346. Income Taxes.—To meet the needs of the Government growing out of the Civil War, Congress imposed in 1861 a tax of 3 per cent. on all incomes over $800. It was the first tax of the kind under the Constitution. The next year the tax was made 5 per cent. on incomes less than $5,000, with an exemption of $600 and house rent actually paid; 772 per cent. on incomes of $5,000 and not over $10,000, and 10 per cent. on all incomes in excess of the last named
1 Hylton v. U. S., 3 Dallas, 171. 2 Pacific Insurance Co. v. Soule, 7 Wallace, 433. See paragraph 346. 3 Veazie Bank v. Fenno, 8 W