The monstrous growth of the federal leviathan has become a serious threat to the nation, and doing anything about it is not a priority for either major party. JD Rucker of the New Americana, Soshable, and the new Federalist Party offers a three-pronged approach to attacking this swelling menace in the following guest post:
Since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his disastrous New Deal, conservatives have coalesced around the concepts of reducing overreach of government, particularly federal government. From Barry Goldwater to Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan, leaders have emerged at times of great need to rein in Washington, DC and the incessant expansion of influence politicians have over the fate of the nation and its people.
Until recently, the Republican Party has been the champion of limiting government. Reagan’s push for “New Federalism” represented two things: the last great attempt to reduce the size of government and the revelation that the seat of power within the GOP was lukewarm at best toward the idea once Reagan left office. We’ve learned over the past 2 decades that only a small portion of GOP politicians truly believe in small government principles, culminating in Republican majorities in the House and Senate that spent more than their Democratic-majority predecessors.
The challenge isn’t in taking actions to reduce government overreach. The real roadblock is in coordinating the efforts to take on the three areas of overreach simultaneously. Attacking one or two at a time is futile because of the intertwined nature of the three. To know how to make a real difference in DC, we must understand the nature of the three forms of overreach: budget, bureaucracy, and power.
Budget is the easiest to recognize and attack. It’s also the driving force for the other two, which means that it cannot be permanently and meaningfully fixed without acting on the other two simultaneously. There are three components that influence how the budget is handled. First, there are the individual budgets themselves. Every action in DC from handling an emergency to running an entire department requires a budget. These add up quickly, which is why we’re currently looking at over a half-trillion dollar budget deficit going into 2017. Revenue works opposite of budgets to determine deficits, with most revenues coming from taxes. The final component is the economy, which contributes to every form of revenue government takes in. Unfortunately, budgets cannot be arbitrarily cut without repercussions, which is why any real effort to balance the budget and ideally generate a surplus to start working on the national debt requires going after the other two areas of overreach.
This brings us to bureaucracy. History has demonstrated that Americans are problem solvers. When left to fix our own issues, we tend to find the right solutions. Bureaucracy is the natural predator to the innovative American spirit. Whether it’s departments such as Education, agencies such as the EPA, or regulations holding America back such as those coming from the FDA, the biggest roadblocks to American exceptionalism are usually delivered by bureaucrats who have agendas that run contrary to progress. Not only is bureaucracy often the ball and chain holding us back, it also represents one of the biggest drains on the federal budget. In other words, too much bureaucracy is a double whammy. It imperils our individual success, then charges us extra for doing so. One might believe that this would be easy to eliminate, but doing so would take away from the third aspect of overreach: power.
Every year, government expands its influence. It’s as if federal bureaucrats generate the need to stay relevant by putting more power in DC through reduction of powers held by states, cities, and individuals. We’ve seen the powers of all three branches of government expanding, but most notable is the rapid expansion of the executive branch. It isn’t just the President. Unelected bureaucrats lay down decrees at a rapid pace and with such limited oversight that conservatives in Congress and at the state levels have been forced to contend with the executive branch as a direct adversary. This is why we’ve seen renewed calls for nullification, a Convention of States, and Federalism. Unfortunately, the power granted to the executive branch has gone relatively unchecked despite these efforts. Executive orders were the preferred tool of FDR, and we’re seeing them make a comeback today. That doesn’t mean the legislative branch is innocent. They try to keep up with their own expansion of powers. They just work more slowly. Regardless of the source of power, one thing is certain. Every expansion of power comes with a price tag, which expands the budget.
Reducing the budget is impossible until huge chunks of bureaucracy are removed. Bureaucracy cannot be removed until we pull back on the powers held by DC politicians. Those powers can only be pulled back by reducing the budgets and forcing DC to stay within those boundaries. It’s a circle of self-replicating overreach. The only possible way to make it stop and eventually rein it in is if we attack all three aspects simultaneously. Otherwise, it’s like cutting off one head of a hydra. Two more will pop up in its place. To stop overreach requires a systematic, well-planned effort that originates from within the seat of power itself.
Thankfully, there are two complimentary solutions. They are not mutually exclusive, so they can and should be initiated concurrently. The first is a Convention of States. There are those who fear such a move because of the mythical “runaway convention” that would allegedly destroy the Constitution and send the country into a nosedive. There is some potential truth to this if it’s not handled appropriately. For example, a standalone balanced budget amendment could yield one very dangerous result: rapidly expanding taxes. If Congress is forced to stay within its budget, it will be naturally inclined to meet the budget by increasing tax revenues. Therefore, there will need to be several amendments enacted at once before any of them can be effective.
The second action is the development of the Federalist Party. For full disclosure, I’m helping to build this party because it’s a necessary component to reining in government. For any efforts to succeed, whether it’s a Convention of States or individual laws passed that limit DC’s power, we’ll need politicians in place with federalist philosophies to guide the system toward devolution. So much power has been accumulated in DC that even with a Convention of States, our leaders will inevitably find ways to bring back the power they’ve grown accustomed to holding. Overreach comes in more forms than amendments can possibly handle. We need a paradigm shift in DC for the overreach to be halted indefinitely.
Recognizing the problems is the first step to initiating the solutions. The way things are now, any solution will be temporary. To make changes of substance and longevity, we must address overreach as a whole rather than as the sum of its parts. Doing so is the only way to wake up enough people and make them realize the true scope of the existential threat we face from Washington, DC.