The Tyranny of the 536
The current debate over raising the federal debt limit brings into focus the brokenness of our “Rule of Law”, the United States Constitution. Never in the original design of the document were 536 citizen legislators (One President, 100 Senators, and 435 Representatives) intended to have the power to pass laws that would put our country on the road to financial ruin and bankruptcy, but that is exactly what has transpired. President Obama, in just 2 years in office, has added over $4 trillion dollars to our national debt through his massive “stimulus” spending, passed by majorities in the Congress. Our national debt limit currently stands at over $14 trillion dollars with on and off budget unfunded entitlements totaling, by some counts, over $100 trillion dollars in the out years. Current tax rates, both individual and corporate, would need to more than double to pay for the growth of these programs.
The “original intent” of the framers was to give the federal government jurisdiction over only those facets of governing contained in the enumerated powers clause of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8 ) , and to make changes to those powers difficult to enact through the amendment process. The framers provided for a strong national defense (Paragraph 1) and for the supremacy of the federal government in negotiating with foreign governments and in matters of commerce between the states (Paragraph 3), but outside of those major federal governmental powers, all other powers were to go to the states.
The reality of politics, especially since the 1920’s in America, bears little resemblance to the founder’s original intent. The largest federal government budget items, in addition to the enumerated national defense spending, are the massive entitlement programs Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Taxing Americans, at the federal level, to pay for retirement and healthcare was never intended by the founders unless approved by the amendment process, of which none have been passed. Governor Mitt Romney was correct in signing a healthcare bill at the state level, even if Massachusetts found it to be a budget buster. The states were to be the proving ground for legislative authority not given to the federal government in the Constitution…the process worked…at least until Obamacare became law nationally. Today, if you can muster majorities among the 536 and get the President to sign it, it appears that nothing is safe in the taking of an individual’s resources to redistribute them for political benefit.
Politicians in the past could cloak their unconstitutional votes in “caring for those less fortunate” and “helping the elderly” verbiage that never accurately projected the exploding future cost due to dramatic changes in the country’s demographics and due to the irresponsible spending addiction of politicians.
But those days are gone.
Today, we can clearly see the coming financial ruin of the country that lies just over the horizon, fueled by out-of-control spending in Washington, and it is “We The People’s” responsibility to stop it. The mid-term election in 2010 sent a message to Washington that “We The People” see this and we want it stopped. But it wasn’t enough. Word from the hill today is that Congressional leaders are working on a deal to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for cuts in spending in the out years. This strategy never works. As happened to both Presidents Bush 41’ and President Reagan, the cuts never materialize as next year’s Congress will have a different make up with different priorities.
It is “We The People’s” responsibility to pressure politicians not to raise the debt limit any further. Dealing with the payment of obligations (not default) will come either now with a $14 trillion dollar debt, or it will come down the road when the debt is much larger, and thus much harder to prioritize. And so the question is: “When do we deal with the debt?”….either now or in the future.
The only way to keep this federal government from growing is to not increase the debt limit. Deals don’t work. Hard spending limits written in law do.
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