Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/473

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
469
TARIFF REVISION

nent commission, like the Interstate Commerce Commission, has been spoken of, which should have authority to investigate, and upon giving notice of from one to three years, to change the rate or schedule within certain limits prescribed by Congress, say from three to five per cent. A commission, however, with such powers would be unconstitutional. Article I., section 8, of the constitution provides, "The Congress shall have power to lay taxes, duties," etc. The power is given to Congress, and according to the familiar principle that no legislative body can delegate to any other person or tribunal whatever the power which was conferred upon it, such power can not be delegated to any commission. Congress must not only lay the tax and duty, but it must lay one which shall be uniform, definite and certain. It can not entrust the slightest modification or change to the discretion or Judgment of any other tribunal. If a slight change in the tax can be made by a commission, then Congress can authorize it to make a great change. There is no middle ground. The entire power of laying taxes and duties is conferred on the Congress and that power can not be shifted. A commission is in no sense a representative body, and the right to lay taxes is, under our system of government, peculiarly limited to a body which is representative of the whole people. Such essentially is the Congress, to which the authority was given by the constitution.

All the benefits which would legally flow from a commission could also be had from a bureau of tariff in the Department of Commerce and Labor, and with less friction and more efficiency. Such a bureau could furnish data and memoranda with verifying witnesses, who could be examined by the Ways and Means Committee and by parties interested. In this way the whole people of the country would be represented before the committee in a substantial manner, where now they are practically unrepresented so far as the presentation of the case by witnesses and counsel is concerned. As a check upon the accuracy of the work of the bureau, parties interested should have the privilege of cross-examination, and also the right to bring before the congressional committee, which is independent of the bureau and of the department to which it belongs, experts of their own; these experts in turn to be subject to cross-examination by counsel representing the bureau of the tariff.

By such a procedure facts can be elicited upon which an orderly and scientific revision of the tariff can be made. These suggestions are not intended to unnecessarily postpone or indefinitely delay the present proposed revision of the tariff, but simply to indicate a method of procedure which should be made permanent.