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PRESIDENT OBAMA, MEET PRESIDENT JACKSON

July 31, 2011 - Ray Hall (Archive)
President Obama would do well to reread history surrounding Andrew Jackson’s Presidency since both were forced to deal with essentially the same crisis--a fight over taxes.

Andrew Jackson was accustomed to being in tough spots. He beat back the British in the 1812 battle of New Orleans with a much smaller and lesser trained force and when he took office as President in 1828 he was not a stranger to controversy. Before he came to Washington he had engaged in fist fights and brawls and he even shot a man in a duel for denigrating his wife’s reputation. He did not shy away from unpopular issues when he landed in the White House.

In his first address to Congress he called for the abolition of the electoral college. He railed against politicians who had life tenure in office and thus became an early supporter for term limits. He said that governmental duties should be so “plain and simple” that the terms should be rotated among worthy applicants.

Among Jackson’s detractors were men of prominence who were enraged that, unlike his predecessors, Jackson did not defer to Congress on matters of policy. Henry Clay and Daniel Webster joined the opposition and became “defenders of liberty” against what they saw as a power grab by Jackson who was regularly featured in cartoons as King Andrew I. Later, Clay and Webster led the unsuccessful fight against Jackson when he vetoed legislation to recharter the government sponsored national bank.

All President Obama needs to do is read how President Jackson dealt with the problem of taxes and how that issue was about to place the nation on a ruinous path. Then as now the opposition was a vocal minority led by his former Vice-President, John C. Calhoun from South Carolina who argued against tariffs on manufactured goods. Like a minority of elected officials today, Calhoun was a “states rights” addict who insisted that a state had the right or power to nullify any Federal Law it didn’t like. Jackson and Calhoun had been engaged in that long running debate and despite efforts by Jackson to appease the opposition by lowering the tariffs Calhoun remained unsatisfied. The issue became so contentious that Jackson was alleged to have threatened to go to South Carolina and hang John C. Calhoun.

The frightened Calhoun returned to South Carolina and in 1832 South Carolina passed the Nullification Act, a resolution declaring the Federal Tariff Acts unconstitutional and ordered that taxes no longer be collected. President Jackson didn’t waste time. He sent navy warships and the Union Army under the command of General Winfield Scott to Charleston to enforce Federal law. South Carolina repealed the Nullification Ordinance.

Today a small group of Congressmen are holding this great nation hostage and appear willing to take us on a suicide march just to uphold some imbecilic notion from the Reagan era. It is not exaggeration to claim that these small-minded malefactors would return us to the days of John C. Calhoun to fly a flag of another color and render this nation asunder. President Jackson might ,at the very least, believe them guilty of rebellion, insurrection, civil disorder, mutiny-- take your pick, in the end it is all sedition.

If Jackson was President today there is no reason to believe that he would support efforts to slash Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid just to pacify a group of what he might call Grover Norquist misfits. He would bristle at the notion that the rich and well off are exempt from sacrificing for the nation or that they are entitled to government handouts for corporate jets and a variety of other self-indulgences. President Obama, meet President Jackson. Save our country. Tell the Tea Party irregulars to go fly a kite. invoke the 14th Amendment and get reelect in 2012 by a landslide. Andrew Jackson was reelected.

 
 

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ANDREW JACKSON