Return to a Limited Government, Step 5

Alexander Hamilton

The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men ~ Alexander Hamilton

Mike Lee is challenging Bob Bennett for his senate seat. Lee’s website clearly defines his stance on a variety of issues, with the emphasis on Five Steps to a Return to Limited Government. I am discussing each of these five steps, examining them on their merits. Previously I discussed Step 1, Step 2Step 3, and Step 4.

Step 5: End the Era of the Lifetime Politician

Mike Lee’s proposal:

“The runaway growth of the federal government will continue as long as we retain a system that assures the existence of lifetime politicians. A career member of Congress inevitably will come to believe that that body has the answer to all social problems. The Constitution should be amended to limit service in each house of Congress to 12 years.

There are three parts to this proposal:

  1. The system encourages lifetime politicians.
  2. Congress thinks its has all the answers.
  3. An amendment to limit service is needed.

The system that is spoken about here is the U.S. Constitution. It is not easily amended and those that advocate an amendment to solve a problem of the day sound good to the masses. When the amendment goes nowhere then the politician can say that they tried. Advocating amendments is a safe election platform.

It is true that the president of the United States is limited to two terms. The proposed amendment here would limit a senator to two terms also. A representative would have six terms.

One negative is that the people will have one choice taken away, namely that they cannot retain a favorite politician. However, I am not convinced that that would be a big disadvantage.

Summary

My grade for this proposal is 2 out of 5 because it would be highly unlikely to come to pass. Congress would have to start the amendment process and they would have no incentive to do so.

While it sounds great to base some of your platform on passing amendments, the reality is they are highly unlikely to get passed.

What do you the people say?
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Return to a Limited Government, Step 4

John Adams

While all other sciences have advanced, that of government is at a standstill - little better understood, little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago ~ John Adams

Mike Lee is challenging Bob Bennett for his senate seat. Lee’s website clearly defines his stance on a variety of issues, with the emphasis on Five Steps to a Return to Limited Government. I am discussing each of these five steps, examining them on their merits. Previously I discussed Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3

Step 4: Reduce Government Regulations

Mike Lee’s proposal:

The answer to an economic downturn is not a government stimulus, but a reduction in government regulation and bureaucracy to allow the natural forces of our private enterprise system to rebound without undue interference.

There are two parts to this proposal:

  1. Do not use government stimulus in economic downturns.
  2. Reduce regulation and bureaucracy to allow private enterprise to rebound.

Stimulus

The conventional wisdom is for governments to pick up the spending when consumers retrench. This is not as wise as many want us to believe. All of this stimulus spending is creating huge deficits that in later years will be even more of a drain on the economy because of the additional interest.

Those that do have money to spend because they have little or no debt and have planned for times such as these are not likely to increase spending. And why not? Because they are spooked by the government spending! They see higher taxes and/or high inflation up ahead and so put away extra money or convert it to gold.

So the very deficit stimulus spending by government has the opposite effect on the populace most able to stimulate the economy.

Reduce Regulation

Not owning a business I know little about regulations. But if they are anything like the tax code they must indeed be onerous. Some would argue that it was lack of regulation that caused the recent economic meltdown. It seems to me that it was partly government pushing banks to loan to people who should never have received loans. And regulations that should have been enforced were not. Money was also given away too quickly to dubious bailouts.

Just by letting states manage more of their own affairs without federal interference would result is less regulation. Of course mistakes will be made but surely things cannot get any worse.

Summary

My grade for this proposal is 5 out of 5 because I never believed that the stimulus money was spent wisely. There is even TARP money left that the politicians are looking around for causes to spend it on. If it was such an emergency that this money be appropriated how come there are billions still left over a year later?

Bailouts should have been made on a case by case basis and only in a dire emergency. “Saving jobs” is not an economic emergency, although granted it is for the soon to be unemployed.

What do you the people say?

Next Time

Mike Lee’s Step 5: End the Era of the Lifetime Politician
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Return to a Limited Government, Step 3

Benjamin Franklin

Without industry and frugality, nothing will do; with them, everything ~ Benjamin Franklin

Mike Lee is challenging Bob Bennett for his senate seat. Lee’s website clearly defines his stance on a variety of issues, with the emphasis on Five Steps to a Return to Limited Government. I am discussing each of these five steps, examining them on their merits. Previously I discussed Step 1 and Step 2.

Step 3: Reform the Tax System

Mike Lee’s proposal:

With 50% of wage earners paying little or no taxes, too many voters have no ‘skin in the game’ — and no reason to question new government programs that are funded by the real taxpayers. Until we reform the tax code to give all Americans a stake in their government (through a flat tax), Congress will continue to adopt new entitlements, new bailouts, and new relief programs.

There are two parts to this proposal:

  1. All Americans should have a stake in their government.
  2. We need a flat tax.

It is not necessary to have a flat tax to adjust taxes so that more Americans pay a share of the burden of government. Taxes need to be broad based so the load is shared and those that work hard are not discouraged by having to pay a disproportionate amount to the government.

There are several ways to broaden taxes. A federal sales tax would work, as well as a reduction in tax credits. A reduction in services would also achieve the goal of having a broader load.

A Flat Tax

What we are really looking at is a leveling of the tax burden so that all can help. Which is why Mike includes a flat tax. It seems the two go together. A flat tax is a popular idea. Even I would pay no more taxes under a flat tax of 12%.

It is sad that in some quarters some cry, “Soak the rich!” The wealthy that I am familiar with worked extremely hard for their money and/or took extraordinary risks. This is something we should not discourage. Under a flat tax, a rich man still pays much more than a poor man, yet at least it has a veneer of fairness because the percentage is the same. Perhaps that is why tithing works so well, at least in some churches.

My decades of living in England taught me that eventually even the poor pay higher taxes because under the crushing weight of socialism there is not enough rich people left. When I was a teenager the concern was the “brain drain” where professionals and the wealthy were leaving England for a lower-tax America.

Summary

My grade for this proposal is 5 out of 5 because as much as possible should be done to lessen the pain of taxation for everybody. Well did Winston Churchill speak when he said that “there is no such thing as a good tax.”

What do you the people say?

Next Time

Mike Lee’s Step 4: Reduce Government Regulations
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Return to a Limited Government, Step 2

James Madison

The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home ~ James Madison

Mike Lee is challenging Bob Bennett for his senate seat. Lee’s website clearly defines his stance on a variety of issues, with the emphasis on Five Steps to a Return to Limited Government. I am discussing each of these five steps, examining them on their merits. Last time was Step 1.

Step 2: Strengthen National Security, But Stop Nation-Building

Mike Lee’s proposal:

A core constitutional function of the federal government is to ‘insure domestic tranquility’ by protecting our country. We must continue to develop sophisticated, cutting-edge tools to defend our citizens from threats of terrorism. But our focus must be on rebuilding our own nation. We should not and cannot afford to continue the quest for nation-building.

There are three parts to this proposal:

  1. Insure domestic tranquility.
  2. Rebuild our own nation.
  3. Cease nation-building elsewhere.

Who can argue with the charge to “insure domestic tranquility?” In the process individual rights need to be upheld, which has not always been the case.

There are many interpretations of what “rebuilding our nation” means. Is it meant in a military sense? Or increasing employment? Perhaps strengthening the dollar? My view is that once the monetary system is functioning correctly many other problems will fade.

In ceasing nation-building it is hard to to see that as anything else but an exit from Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not the normal Republican line. Recently, this has not been been the Democratic line either. In these times of huge deficits an end to the wars would save a useful sum.

Also, presidents need to be reined in a little by Congress so that no more entangling alliances are made.

Summary

I agree with step two so long as it means that the wars America is involved in are ended. Life can be made difficult for terrorists without having to occupy two countries. My grade for this proposal is 4 out of 5 because an end to overseas nation-building will benefit the U.S. in the long term.

What do you the people say?

Next Time

Mike Lee’s Step 3: Reform the Tax System
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Return to a Limited Government, Step 1

Thomas Jefferson

I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared ~ Thomas Jefferson

Mike Lee is challenging Bob Bennett for his senate seat. Lee’s website clearly defines his stance on a variety of issues, with the emphasis on Five Steps to a Return to Limited Government. In the next several days I will be discussing each of these five steps, examining them on their merits.

Step 1: End Deficit Spending

Mike Lee’s proposal:

“Deficit spending facilitates the continuing growth of the federal government. It is far too tempting to shift the cost of today’s federal expansion to future generations. Until we require Congress to operate under a balanced budget, that expansion will continue. A balanced budget amendment is essential to restoring the original, proper role of the federal overnment.”

There are two parts to this proposal:

  1. The problem: Deficit spending.
  2. The solution: A balanced budget amendment.

Growth of the federal government is not necessarily a problem, especially with a growing population. It is when the growth is funded with borrowed dollars, allowing federal intrusion into areas that should be reserved to the states, or to the people.

Balanced Budget Amendment

I am with Mike on the need for a balanced budget amendment. I would also add a presidential line-item veto, which many state governors already have.

What are the chances of enactment of a balanced budget amendment? Through the amendment process. Article V of the Constitution specifies two methods to add amendments.

  1. Two-thirds (290) of the House and two-thirds (67) of the Senate propose an amendment. Three-fourths (38) of the states ratify it.
  2. Two-thirds (34) of the states call for a constitutional convention. Three-fourths (38) of the states ratify the convention’s proposed amendments.

There is already a call for a constitutional convention in progress. In the mid 1970s a movement began for the purpose of drafting a balanced-budget amendment by Constitutional Convention. By 1983, 32 of the needed 34 state legislatures had asked Congress to call a convention.

These are the states. States marked with an (R) have since rescinded their calls.

Alabama (R)
Alaska
Arizona (R)
Arkansas
Delaware
Colorado
Florida (R)
Georgia (R)
Idaho (R)
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Louisiana (R)
Maryland
Mississippi
Missouri
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota (R)
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
S. Carolina (R)
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah (R)
Virginia (R)
Wyoming

Some say that the rescissions are not valid and that the calls cannot be overridden. This view includes even some opposed to calls for a constitutional convention. However, this is far from settled. Although I am in favor of a constitutional convention to get a balanced budget amendment, I can see that in the end the rescissions will have to be upheld.

Summary

With popular support, the people could pressure congress to begin the amendment process, which alleviates the necessity of a risky constitutional convention. My grade for this proposal is only 3 out of 5 because the chances of ever getting a balanced budget amendment are rather slim.

What do you the people say?

Next Time

Mike Lee’s Step 2: Strengthen National Security, But Stop Nation-Building
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