Hello Fellow Patriots:
Why is it a problem that we don’t have term limits?
In a 5-4 majority opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens in the 1990s, the Supreme Court ruled that the states could not impose congressional term limits because the Constitution simply did not grant them the power to do so. Before that, terms in some States did have limits.
The Founding Fathers – the people who wrote the Constitution – did, in fact, consider and reject the idea of congressional term limits. In Federalist Papers No. 53, James Madison, father of the Constitution, explained why the Constitutional Convention of 1787 rejected term limits.
“A few of the members of Congress will possess superior talents; will by frequent re-elections, become members of long standing; will be thoroughly masters of the public business, and perhaps not unwilling to avail themselves of those advantages. The greater the proportion of new members of Congress, and the less the information of the bulk of the members, the more apt they be to fall into the snares that may be laid before them,” wrote Madison. https://www.thoughtco.com/why-no-term-limits-for-congress-3974547
What the Founders seemingly did not consider was that Congress would essentially become a full-time endeavor for some elected Representatives. But the States still had a winning Ace up their sleeves with Senators being directly appointed by the States themselves thereby protecting State’s essential interests. That was the State’s counterbalance against the lack of term limits for House Representatives. Then, there was a wrench thrown into the congressional works and it’s called…the 17th Amendment.
What the heck is the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution? From our National Archives:
“Americans did not directly vote for Senators for the first 125 years of the Federal Government. The Constitution, as it was adopted in 1788, stated that Senators would be elected by state legislatures. The first proposal to amend the Constitution to elect Senators by popular vote was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1826, but the idea did not gain considerable support until the late 19th century when several problems related to Senate elections had become evident. Several state legislatures deadlocked over the election of Senators, which led to Senate vacancies lasting months and even years. In other cases, political machines gained control over state legislatures, and the Senators elected with their support were dismissed as puppets. In addition, the Senate was seen as a “millionaire’s club” serving powerful private interests. The rise of the People’s Party, commonly referred to as the Populist Party, added motivation for making the Senate more directly accountable to the people.”
“In 1911, the House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 39 proposing a constitutional amendment for the direct election of Senators. An amended Joint Resolution was adopted by the Senate on a close vote in May of 1911. Over a year later, the House accepted the change, and the amendment was sent to the states for ratification. On April 8, 1913, three-quarters of the states had ratified the proposed amendment, and it was officially included as the 17th Amendment.” https://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/17th-amendment
The Founder’s wonderfully thought-out counterbalance in the Senate now looked more like a second branch of the House and marked the beginning of a push for unfettered Federalism at the expense of the State’s power and supremacy. It became clear to some states, early in the game, that they had made a mistake with passing the 17th Amendment.
“Congress was originally created to be an arena for competition between citizens, states and national government’s competing interests.”
“It’s in direct response to the passage of the 17th amendment that the federal government began its exponential growth. The primary brake on federal government expansion was removed.”
“Senators were no longer beholden to states, they were now beholden to the federal government. Senators became incentivized to promote unchecked growth of the federal system because Senators were now part of the federal system.” https://themarketswork.com/2017/11/26/our-great-mistake-the-17th-amendment/
Few citizens now realize that there are only 18 Enumerated Powers granted to the Federal government by the Constitution with all other powers reserved to the individual states. http://www.libertyzone.org/18-Enumerated-Powers.pdf Let me let you in on a little secret that you probably already figured out. Over time, the power of the Federal government has grown out of all proportion to the Founder’s intent and it is impossible to calculate what the Federal government does not control today. States’ Rights have been diminished beyond all recognition.
Federal Revenue Sharing:
One of the inducements to pass the 17th Amendment was what was to become one of the worst ideas in history, i.e., how the implementation of Federal Grants to be given to state and local governments came to be. Federal Grants have their nexus in the words, taken from the Constitution, to “Promote the General Welfare…” Grants started out as Land Grants, but by the early 1900s, began to be used coercively to have states perform and conform to Federal policies through the transfer of cold hard cash. States loved to get the money but soon realized that the Free Money sometimes became Unfunded Mandates. Despite this, states ceded more and more authority to the central government by taking ever more money with ‘strings.’ This power to grant Free Money made Federal politicians even more powerful. The net result of creating these grants was like adding rocket fuel to the power of the Federal government.
Eventually, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal initiatives had converted states into nothing more than addicts with the central government acting as their Dealer. They cannot continue to function without Washington continually returning money they took through taxation back to the states and counties in the form of grants. Some grants eventually do good things. Keep in mind though, that the Feds take their cut out each time. Better to allow local governments and the states to determine their own priorities and not send their money away in the first place. The grant scheme is essentially a money-laundering operation. Most importantly, our profligate spending now requires continuous ‘fixes’ from Big Daddy Government to maintain their ever-larger government operations.
“Following World War II, most New Deal programs had become entrenched in federal government domestic policy. In addition, new programs were enacted such as the G.I. Bill of Rights, which allocated millions of dollars for veterans’ postsecondary education. By 1962, federal categorical grants numbered 160, and they jumped to 379 by 1967, much of the increase resulting from the civil rights revolution and President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. By the end of the 1960s, the increases in domestic spending, as well as rising costs of the Vietnam War, severely strained the budget. At the same time, a critical mass of politicians and policy analysts raised questions about the proper role of the federal government in social and economic welfare policy. Critics argued that the national government was gaining too much power in policymaking at the expense of state and local governments.”
“It was not until 1972 that Congress passed and the President signed into law the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act, known as GRS. The states were to receive one-third of the money and local governments two-thirds. About 39,000 general-purpose political jurisdictions were allocated funds according to a complex formula based on population, tax effort, income tax collection, and need. No action was taken on SRS; however, the Comprehensive Employment Training Act and the Community Development Block Grant Act, enacted in 1974, contained features of SRS, known as block grants.” http://encyclopedia.federalism.org/index.php/Revenue_Sharing
Our goose was truly cooked now once the fox realized he owned the henhouse. Free Money was and is now an institution that is slowly but surely killing our country, one grant at a time.
Why don’t we balance our budget? I don’t know about you, but I can’t spend money I don’t make. Nothing good comes from deficit spending; wouldn’t you agree? Many states and virtually all local governments are required by their state constitution to balance their budgets. Why not the Federal government? Because it is not required in the Constitution and we have truly screwed the pooch!
Keep in mind that the US dollar is a fiat currency.
It has value only by government decree. Since it issues (“prints”) its own currency, it cannot go broke, and its spending is not limited to taxes and borrowing. Spending by a national government with its own currency does not have the same constraints as a household, business, or state/local government.
You don’t need an economist to understand that a monetary sovereign’s spending is constrained only by the effects it might have on (1) the pricing of goods and services and (2) the relative pricing of its currency on the currency exchange market. The first depends on the (seemingly easily explainable) “how’s” and “what’s” of the spending – and the second only on the world’s perception of how well the first is being managed.”
This is the best explanation I can proffer that explains these two factors:
- Why do we have inflation and the great lie that it can be fixed? Fundamentally, when we print or borrow money not backed by a hard asset, we make the pool of existing dollars worth less, i.e., we inflate them.
- If the world ever stops believing that America is the best Safe Harbor available; then we can no longer borrow cheap dollars and its game over.
Pilots sometimes call an autopilot “George” as in, “let George fly the plane for a while.” In the truest sense, George is flying the US economy. Entitlements make up over 50% of the government’s budget today with interest making up another 5% and that is going up quickly. All of these costs go up automatically without anyone having to pass anything. This was fiendishly implemented to give cover to those scoundrels in Congress who can say…” I didn’t vote for an increase.”
We are exiting a period of historically low-interest rates. I foresee that by 2025 we will be spending 60% of the Federal budget on entitlements and interest, perhaps more. You always hear about the Defense Department but at 11% its share is historically low and a piker when compared to its two big brothers.
You also hear the word “unsustainable” a lot. I agree. Please believe me when I say, there is some number, which we will reach in the future, that will exceed our ability to borrow to cover. What happens then? Do Social Security checks stop coming? Will Veterans Benefits or Pell grants go poof? Will Medicare and Medicaid just cease to exist? This is not unthinkable.
End Game. The United States is not alone in spending more than it takes in. However, it is worth noting that countries like Russia, China, most of the Middle Eastern countries, and many other nations take care of their people to one degree or another and still adhere to a philosophy of balanced budgets. Unbalanced budgets generally occurred in wartime but now, they are passed virtually every year. Why? At the root of the problem is leadership that spends to stay in power. Grants are the payola that the Federal government uses to buy off state and local governments. Without grants, state and local governments would be much more vocal in requiring the Federal government to use the same level of fiscal discipline that they are required to have. Grants are a bribe, hush-money payments, and a lowdown but effective tool to get those House and Senate members reelected. “Bringing home the bacon” is what almost all elected officials want you to judge them by at election time. This is a systemic failure that you can witness which demonstrates there is no depth to which elected officials are willing to stoop. With the recent return to Earmarks that came back from the dead just this year after being banned for a decade, there are now even fewer fiscal restraints. https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-03-16/california-brings-in-millions-in-new-congressional-earmarks
Government has failed us. Whether by chance or by design, so many issues have failed; fiscally, socially, morally and so many others that I can’t count them. The four issues I address herein can and must be acted upon. Sooner or later someone, something, or other unknown events will say “I call your bluff” and then, the jig is up.
Congress will not willingly make the changes that are essential to our current and future stability. I am only aware of one way out. And, our Founding Fathers gifted us that road as well with the act of calling a Constitutional Convention.
Read about Constitutional Conventions at https://conventionofstates.com to learn more. If America is to have a successful future and continue to lead the world going forward, we must put our own house in order. It won’t be easy, but it is something that must be done, for ourselves, our children’s future, and to protect the entire free world to which we are intrinsically linked. This is our legacy and it is also our way forward. We are Americans, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, that is who we are. The entire world has been made better through God’s grace in creating the likes of which had not existed previously. What will become of us if we can’t find the resolve to find our way forward?
God Bless America and especially at this time of extreme suffering in Ukraine.
Allan J. Feifer