Fixing the Federal Mess Part 1 of 4: Understanding the Mess and Why it Must be Fixed
The mess in Washington has gone well beyond the point where simple solutions will stop the ship of state from sinking. Increasing taxes in an attempt to reduce deficits will further depress the already depressed economy and wouldn’t raise nearly enough revenue to balance the budget. This four-part series describes the problem, its causes, the solutions and ends with a summary.
The mess in Washington has gone well beyond the point where simple solutions will stop the ship of state from sinking. Increasing taxes in an attempt to reduce deficits will further depress the already depressed economy and wouldn’t raise nearly enough revenue to balance the budget. In fact, it is quite likely that raising taxes might actually hurt federal revenues as has often been the case in the past.
We are all familiar with today’s growing problems. Unsustainable federal spending; chronic unemployment that threatens to become acute; an anemic economy; burdensome regulations and federal policies that suppress private job creation; the diminishing value of the dollar; artificial constraints on domestic energy production leading to high energy costs; irresponsible monetary policy (printing money to fund irresponsible spending) that leads to rising prices; the problems go on and on.
But how did we get to where we are?
It began with the Progressive movement of the early 20th century. The administrations of Theodore Roosevelt (1901– 1909) and Woodrow Wilson (1913 – 1921) were crucial in the roles they played to expand federal involvement well outside of constitutional restraints. They simply ignored those constitutional restraints. It was during this era that the infamous 16th (income tax, February 1913) and 17th Amendments (popular election of Senators, April 1913) were enacted providing the tools progressives used to expand federal involvement well beyond the limited scope of our Constitution.
The mess our nation is in today is a direct a consequence of a single root problem: the abandonment of constitutional restraint on federal power over the past 90 years.
A manifestation of that abandonment is the explosion of unsustainable federal spending on programs whose very existence is without legitimate constitutional authority.
Any program labeled an “entitlement” is a program for which there is no constitutional authority. None whatsoever. These programs are the proper province of the states. Other unconstitutional federal agencies include the departments of Education, Energy, Labor, Housing & Urban Development, Health & Human Services, EPA, CPSC, FEMA, to name a few. All these programs and agencies provide a graphic illustration of the danger to our nation when politicians cavalierly ignore constitutional restraint (the clear provisions limiting federal power in Article 1, Section 8, of our Constitution).
This snapshot of the 2010 budget illustrates the disastrous financial situation we face:
These details provide the following subset of unconstitutional spending (in billions of dollars) for 2010 that can be summed to grasp the enormity of the cost of unconstitutional governance:
Cost of Program in FY2010
That’s over two trillion dollars of spending for programs that are not authorized for our federal government by our Constitution! Even if these programs were constitutional, we simply cannot afford such programs. There is no tax rate that could possibly close the budget gap between spending and tax revenue. For more on this topic see Is Federal Spending Sustainable?
How do we correct the constitutional abuses by "progressives" over the past century? First, we must elect people to Congress who are committed to restoring our Constitutional Republic by taking the immediate drastic actions that are required.
Those actions consist of two phases: (1) the elimination of all existing unconstitutional federal programs, departments and agencies, devolving appropriate programs in an orderly transition to the states and the people where appropriate, and, (2) the adoption of constitutional amendments to assure that the mess we are in today is never allowed to be repeated. These actions are the subjects of Parts 2 and 3, respectively, of this four-part series. Part 4 will summarize this series.
Bob Webster, a descendant of Daniel Webster's father and early American patriot, Ebenezer Webster, has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for every high school student so they can understand the dangers of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.
A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.