Bill of attainder, ex post facto... you know what to do kids: scream real loud!
Dr. Blanchard joins the chorus declaring HR 1586, the AIG bonus tax, an unconstitutional bill of attainder.
I'll lay my bet to the contrary: HR 1586 will pass Constitutional muster. It is no more a bill of attainder against the executives of AIG than the PATRIOT Act was a bill of attainder against Osama bin Laden (though while we're thinking about the Constitution, I'd happily trade HR 1586 for a repeal of the PATRIOT Act). It is no more an ex post facto law than the tax refunds proposed in the stimulus package, which, oddly, provoked no such Constitutional outcry.
But what do I know? Dr. Blanchard is an honest-to-goodness NSU poli-sci guy; I'm just a DSU computer geek who married a poli-sci major. Who ya gonna call?
How about Dr. Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law, who says we can tax those bonuses without violating the Constitution. HR 1586 denies no due process, it targets no "closed class of named executives," and "the ex post facto clause applies exclusively to criminal punishment," not taxes.
Of course, we don't get to have lawyer fun unless the Senate passes the bonus tax. So, Senator Thune, as you head toward your 2010 re-election campaign, are you ready to defend bonuses for AIG execs on a somewhat tenuous Constitutional claim? Senator Thune's resolution of that thorny question should be fascinating.
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