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conventions are now nominated at a primary. The members of the several legislatures of the States that have primary laws do not have conventions. They have no law for electing delegates to any convention at a primary.
Now, then, Mr. President, as to the other amendment offered by the Senator from Texas, where he asks that the words “and the right to grade" be put in, I think already the language of the joint resolution gives Congress the power to grade the income. The power to lay a tax includes the power to grade. Of that no doubt can reasonably exist, in my judgment.
HERNANDO D. MONEY (Miss.]. -The difficulty that presents itself to my mind is to secure the 12 States which everybody admits are quite likely to defeat any amendment of this sort to the Constitution. The method presented by the Senator from Texas is probably the best, but the same influences that will control the votes of the legislature will prevent the legislature from calling a convention.
We had great difficulty in passing the last two amendments to the Constitution, which seemed to be so very necessary in our system of political economy as to fix the status of several million freedmen. I am one of those who do not believe that either the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment was ever validly made a part of the Constitution.
Mr. President, I do not believe that this amendment to the Constitution will ever be a part of it. I am willing to vote for it, and I should like to see it adopted, if possible; but I am quite sure that those influences which have prevented a vote on the income-tax amendment in this Senate will also prevent a vote in at least twelve of the legislatures of this Union. We can feel quite sure that an act of such far-reaching importance, that touches the pockets of very many rich people, is not very likely to become a part of the organic law of our Republic or of our confederation.
SENATOR BAILEY.-Mr. President, if, instead of submitting this amendment to the legislatures, that may act and react, and go forward and recede, we submit it to a convention in every State, then every member of that convention will be selected solely with reference to this single question; he will be compelled to stand in the presence of the people whose suffrage he seeks and declare, upon his honor as a man and as a citizen, whether or not he favors this amendment. This procedure will be as
. nearly as possible a submission of the question to a direct vote of the people.
Now, a number of Senators have suggested to me that the
question of expense might be an important one, and therefore I desire to say that, if the amendment I propose should be adopted and we should refer this joint resolution to conventions, instead of to the legislatures, I shall follow it with a resolution providing, out of the general treasury, for the expense of holding the conventions in every State.
PORTER J. McCUMBER [N. D.).-If the legislature were composed of men who would naturally be against the amendment, would it not be more convenient and more easy for them to avoid the calling of a convention than it would to meet the matter directly
SENATOR BAILEY.-If I were a member of the Texas legislature, and this amendment were submitted for ratification by the legislature, and I were opposed to it, I should vote against it; and they might bring Gatling guns and train them on the capitol, but I would still vote against it if I were honestly opposed to it. But, sir, if the amendment were submitted to the ratification or disposition of a convention, I should feel in honor bound, both as a member of the legislature and as a citizen, to afford to the people of Texas an opportunity to pass in a lawful and an orderly way upon the question.
So I do not hesitate to say that there is a vast difference between a legislator who might vote against the ratification of the amendment if submitted to the legislature and one who would vote against submitting it to a convention in pursuance of the resolution of Congress.
SENATOR HEYBURN.- As I read Article V of the Constitution, which is the article providing for amendments, a State legislature has nothing to do with the question whether or not an amendment shall be submitted to a convention. Congress is to say whether it shall be passed upon by the legislature or by a convention, and the legislature cannot refer it to a convention. Congress is clothed with the authority to adopt that course if it sees fit.
ALBERT J. BEVERIDGE (Ind.).-How could the convention be called if the legislature did not call it?
SENATOR HEYBURN.—The governor would call the convention if the act of Congress authorized him to do it.
SENATOR BAILEY,- The trouble with that is that it would be necessary to provide for the manner in which members should be elected, and the governor could hardly do that.
SENATOR BROWN.- That would require a session of the legislature.
SENATOR HEYBURN.-I merely gave out the suggestion because it seemed naturally to grow out of the language of Article V.
SENATOR BROWN.—Under the proposal of the Senator from Texas to refer the matter to a convention, we not only have the legislature still in the way, but we have the convention in the way. In other words, you have to have a legislature that is friendly enough to the proposition to pass a law that will be fair enough to allow the people to select delegates to a convention; and then you have to wait until the adjournment of the legislature, and until a convention is called, before you get any action either for or against the amendment. Will some Senator tell me the need of that postponement? In the West we can trust to the legislatures of the States.
Senator Bailey's first amendment was rejected by a vote of 30 yeas to 46 nays, and he withdrew his second amendment. Senator McLaurin's amendment was rejected. The joint resolution was passed by a vote of 77 to 0 on July 5, 1909.
The House referred the resolution to the Committee on Ways and Means, which reported it back on July 12.
THE INCOME Tax [ConsTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT]
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JULY 12, 1909
SERENO E. PAYNE (N. Y.).-I am utterly opposed to the general policy of an income tax. I believe with Gladstone that it tends to make a nation of liars; I believe it is the most easily concealed of any tax that can be laid, the most difficult of enforcement, and the hardest to collect; that it is, in a word, a tax upon the income of the honest men and an exemption, to a greater or less extent, of the income of the rascals; and so I am opposed to any income tax whatever in time of peace. But if this nation should ever be under the stress of a great war, exhausting her resources, and the question of war now being a question as to which nation has the longest pocketbook, the greatest material resource in a great degree, I do not wish to be left, I do not wish this nation to be left, without an opportunity to avail itself of every resource to provide an income adequate to the carrying on of that war.
I hope that if the Constitution is amended in this way the time will not come when the American people will ever want to enact an income tax except in time of war.
Samuel W. McCall (Mass.] opposed the income tax amendment. It abrogated, he said, one of the fundamental principles of the Constitution—the principle that direct taxes should be apportioned among the States according to population.
He continued :
While gentlemen say that they desire this power for time of war, we see to-day in time of peace an attempt to exercise the power to its utmost extent. Why not, then, limit it expressly to time of war? Why not, for the just protection and the equal rights of the people of New York and of the other great States of this Union, five of which probably will pay nine-tenths of an income tax, although they will have only oneninth of the representation in the Senate—why not preserve the limitation upon the power of the central Government? Why drag every government power to Washington so that a vast centralized government may devour the States and the liberty of the individual as well?
Mr. Speaker, believing that this amendment, with no compensation whatever, does away with an important part of the great compromise of the Constitution, and that it is not limited to the emergency for which it is said to be intended, I shall vote against it. The amendment has not carefully been considered by a committee of this House or by anybody else in the United States that I know of, unless possibly by Mr. William J. Bryan. [Applause.)
CHAMP CLARK (Mo.).—The income tax is a Democratic proposition. We put it in the tariff bill of 1894. A very large majority of us have been in favor of it ever since. We wrote it in our platform of 1896 and have advocated it ever since. We proposed it as part of the war-tariff bill of 1898, and Republicans voted it down with practical unanimity. We are in favor of it now; and we welcome the conversion of the Republican party to another Democratic principle. [Loud applause on the Democratic side.] Better late than never. One by one the roses fall, and one by one you adopt the planks of our platform. [Renewed applause.] The whirligig of time brings its own revenges. What was denounced by Republicans in 1896 as anarchy is advocated by them to-day as sound political gospel. My own judgment is that the wit of man never devised a fairer or juster tax than a graduated income tax.
It is monstrous to say—I do not care what the gentleman from Massachusetts or anybody else says—it is monstrous to say that the accumulated wealth of this country shall not bear its just proportion of the public burdens. (Loud general applause. The decision on the income tax law of 1894, when the peculiar circumstances under which it was rendered are considered, is one of the great blots on the judicial system of this country. Everybody knows that we had two income tax laws prior to the act of 1894. They were held to be constitutional. I believe firmly that if we had been engaged in a war with a first-class power in 1898, instead of in a war with Spain, Congress would “incontinently,” as the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McCall] says, have reënacted the income-tax law of 1894 and that the Supreme Court of the United States would have held it to be constitutional. [Applause.) Nobody had any doubt of that then, and nobody has any doubt of that now. The vast majority of the American people have always believed the income tax law of 1894 constitutional.
We would much prefer making an income tax part of the tariff bill than to vote for this joint resolution submitting an income-tax constitutional amendment for ratification to the States; but, as it has been demonstrated that we cannot secure the passage of an income tax through this Congress, we will do the best thing possible under the circumstances and vote for this joint resolution, hoping for the best.
The gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McCall] talks about the sacredness of the Constitution. I am glad to hear a Republican say something in that behalf. (Laughter on the Democratic side.) Of course the Constitution is sacred, but the fathers of the Republic acted according to their lights and according to the circumstances under which they lived.
We must act according to our own lights and the circumstances under which we live. At the time when those clauses that the gentleman from Massachusetts talks about were put into the Constitution population was about equally distributed, and wealth was also; but times change and men change with them, and things change, too.
The Constitution provides that you cannot levy a direct tax, except by making it a head tax. That is the plain English of it. No Congress is ever going to order a direct tax under that section of the Constitution except, perhaps, in the stress of a great war with a great power, because it is palpably unjust.