Why We Must Reform Congress by 1983
W. Cleon Skousen. Why We Must Reform Congress by 1983. Published by The Freemen Institute, August 1981.
Recently, Richard L. Strout, dean of the Washington Press Corps, handed the United States Congress a left-handed jaw breaker by flatly stating that our distinguished law-making assembly of Congress, which is the most powerful legislative body in the world, should be abandoned in its present form and set up under a parliamentary system similar to England and her dominions.
A suggestion such as this would have shocked the Founding Fathers because they considered the parliamentary system two steps backward from the American three-department power structure which they had provided in the Constitution. Of course, political machinery is like industrial machinery. It is designed to be assembled and work in a certain way. It is also designed to perform an assigned task. When political machinery is assembled improperly and forced to function in areas for which it was never designed, it will perform just about like an industrial machine. It will lose its compression, begin making awful clanking noises, and more likely than not, stop performing.
That is what Richard L. Strout says he has seen happening in the United States Congress.
The Original Formula
In the beginning the United States Congress was rather simple. The people elected representatives to the House, and the state legislatures appointed two senators to represent the territory and rights of each particular state. Both the House and the Senate made up their own rules, elected a few necessary officers and set about the business of passing the few laws which came within the purview of the Federal government.
In 1801 the newly elected President, Thomas Jefferson, found the system working so well that he saw little need for adding any new laws to the federal register. Said he:
“The path we have to pursue is so quiet that we have nothing scarcely to propose to our Legislature (the Congress). A noiseless course not meddling with the affairs of others, unattractive of notice, is a mark that society is going on in happiness.” 2
However, even at this early date, the first seeds had already been sown which would grow and ripen into living political vegetation producing some strange fruits. None of these new implants in the political system were more disruptive than the rise of two separate political parties.
Of course, the Founders knew there would be “factions” and special interest groups to plague the Congress, but the Founders had hoped that these factions would remain fluid and temporary rather than crystallize into firm organizational structures of established political parties. By 1800, however, the factions of Federalists and anti-Federalists had structured themselves into solid bulwarks of political party power.
In his Farewell Address, President Washington expressed the most profound anxiety about the development of these “factions.” He wrote:
“… all combinations and associations under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberations and actions of the constituted authorities, are destructive…. They serve to organize faction, to give an artificial and extraordinary force, to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of the party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common councils, and modified by mutual interests.”
A Note on the Two-Party System
Perhaps the development of political parties was inevitable. And there are many authorities who point out that the United States is fortunate to have developed a two-party system rather than the multi-party systems which emerged in Europe. In a multi-party system a small minority representing the “swing vote” can intimidate the major parties and extort concessions which are neither proper nor beneficial. There are also other complications with multi-party systems involving party coalitions and the imposing of severe compromises on the dominant party which was elected by the majority to run the government.
But even with a two-party system, the power of political bosses who regulate the internal structure of the Congress, can be extremely harmful to the legislative process as the Founders envisioned it. Nevertheless, during most of our history, the two parties have generally cooperated together on national concerns. It is only in recent years that old-time Congressmen see a very unhealthy situation developing which could totally discredit the Founders’ legislative formula.
Congressman John J. Rhodes wrote a book entitled The Futile System. In it he emphasized how rapidly the people’s control of Congress has deteriorated in the last two decades. He indicates that Washington’s prophetic words are being completely and literally fulfilled. Here are Congressman Rhodes’ comments:
“The majority of congressional actions are aimed not at producing results for the American people as much as perpetuating the longevity and comfort of the men who run Congress. It is a rip-off for the American taxpayer, injurious to the national interest and an insult to the dignity of the legislative branch envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The massive deterioration that has taken place within the U.S. Congress during the past two decades is more than just a pity; it poses serious questions for the future of the country. For unless “the people’s branch” can be reformed — and soon — it is unlikely that America will find herself able to meet the pressing challenges that lie ahead.” 3
One need only check off a few of the actions of Congress in recent years to illustrate the disdain which some of the leaders have developed toward the expressed desires of the majority of the American people. For example, polls show that the will of the majority has not been respected in the busing legislation which Congress has approved year after year; nor in the giving away of the Panama Canal and paying a pro-Castro Communist dictator vast quantities of money to take it off our hands; nor in the massive loans and grants-in-aid to foreign countries, many of which are either Communist or pro-communist, and have been continually filling the airwaves with vituperations against the United States. Nor were the people in favor of raising the debt ceiling year after year; nor in running up tens of billions of dollars in deficit spending; nor in setting up gigantic regulatory agencies with a record of serious abuses which the ordinary citizen or small business cannot afford to fight in expensive litigation; nor in setting up a gigantic Federal Department of Education; nor in spending $10 billion a year for a counter-productive Energy Commission. But the spending went on.
The Monolithic Power Structure Inside Congress Many Congressmen
Many Congressmen have pointed out in speeches and books that the most corruptive and corrosive factor which prevents the “will of the people” from getting through the legislative channels in the people’s House of Representatives is the fact that five positions which are always held by the majority party are like massive legislative valves that shut off any bills the leaders of the majority do not approve. On the other hand, procedures have been developed so that they can virtually coerce the Congress into accepting a considerable amount of legislation which might otherwise be rejected.
Congressman John Rhodes says the six critical positions which operate like feudal fiefdoms in the House of Representatives are at present as follows:
1. The Speaker of the House
2. The Majority Leader
3. The Majority Whip
4. The Caucus Chairman
5. The Chairman of the House Administration Committee
6. The Chairman of the House Rules Committee
Here is how these positions have been structured to serve political bosses and political leaders rather than the American people.
Speaker of the House
The Speaker is elected by the members of the majority party to be the quarterback for their team. He has all the authority of a chairman in charge of the debates, reports, and procedures in daily sessions. He is also able to make some of the most important appointments to positions of power. As the chief strategist and tactician of the party he tends to be extremely party-conscious. He works closely with the President when the chief executive is a member of his own party but often works just as hard to make points directly against the President when the latter is not of the Speaker’s party.
Whether important bills move smoothly through the legislative channels is largely the responsibility of the Speaker. Not so long ago Congressman Robert Carr of Michigan commented on the impotency of the House leadership saying, “The leadership is out of touch with Congress, and Congress is out of touch with the country. The leadership is still trying to find 1935 answers to 1975 questions.” 4
One of the most serious problems connected with the present arrangement in the election of the Speaker is the fact that he has no limitation on the length of his office. This allows him to build up a tremendous power base. This might be good for the party he serves but it certainly violates the best interests of the people’s House of Representatives.
Suggested Reform: The office of speaker should be for two years and the incumbent should not be allowed to succeed himself.
The Majority Leader
There would be no such office as Majority Leader in the House or Senate if it were not for the political party system. As it exists, the Majority Leader is an important cog in the monolithic flywheel of power in Congress. First of all, he schedules bills on the calendar to suit his own purposes. He can put a controversial bill on the calendar with very little notice and thereby take the opposition by surprise. On the other hand, if the Majority Whip finds that the opposition to a bill is too well-organized to get it passed, the Majority Leader can pull the bill off the calendar at the last moment in order to give his party troops time to marshal the necessary votes to overcome the opposition.
The Majority Leader has the duty to announce toward the end of each week the legislative calendar for the following week. Members of both parties base their travel schedules, committee hearings, and other commitments on this information. A tactical device available to the Majority Leader is to make last-minute changes in the schedule after the members have already made appointments back home on the basis of the original announcement. This is only one of many tricks which an unethical Majority Leader can impose on the minority party to hinder it from pushing through some legislation of its own.
Before Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House he served as Majority Leader. After the opposition party objected to his tactics in short-circuiting their bills, Tip O’Neill retorted: “Republicans are just going to have to get it through their heads that they are not going to write legislation!” 5
Suggested Remedy: The House should make it a rule that once the legislative calendar is announced, it cannot be changed without the consent of the Minority Leader.
The Majority Whip
It is the responsibility of the party Whip to communicate the will of the party leaders to the rank-and-file. It is also his responsibility to pass on to the members of the party what the upcoming legislative calendar will be after the Majority Leader has made the selection.
On important bills, it is the responsibility of the Whip to canvass the party supporters to see if they will hold the line and vote with their leaders. He must also canvass the party members and advise the party leaders in advance what the vote tally will be on a particular bill. If the number of votes is inadequate, it is his job to work with the party leadership to solidify existing support and try to convince the uncommitted party members to close ranks.
The Majority Whip is chosen by the Speaker and the Majority Leader. For all practical purposes he is primarily a party functionary rather than an objective and independent legislator in the United States Congress.
There is no remedy for this situation since it is a natural outgrowth of political party structure. The successful function of each party in the legislative process requires party Whips in order to be effective. Nevertheless, if the recommended reforms went into operation, the role of the party Whips would be less formidable.
The Caucus Chairman
A caucus is a meeting of the party leadership and sometimes the party members. The purpose of the caucus is to discuss particular bills and the strategy to be used in passing or defeating them. The caucus is also important as an educational forum to gain a consensus of understanding concerning the nature and implications of a particular bill.
The political perversion of the caucus arises when it is used for secret, closed-door sessions to intimidate the members of the party into voting according to the dictates of the party leadership rather than according to conscience.
The party leadership has at its disposal important appointments, party funds, the giving or withholding of support for a Congressman’s legislative needs in his own particular district, etc. All of these can become weapons in the hands of party managers to force party members into line during a caucus meeting.
Beginning at the turn of the century, the perversion of the party caucus for political intimidation became particularly prevalent. However, in 1975 the Republican leadership announced a new policy for their caucus meetings. Party conferences were opened to the public and press. They also announced that when the Republican Party gained a majority in the House, it would no longer appoint the chairmen of various committees exclusively on the basis of seniority, but simply count it as one of several factors to consider. They recommended that the practice of coercing party members to commit themselves to vote a certain way (called “unit rule”) should be outlawed. It was pointed out that:
By means of the “unit rule,” as few as one-third of the members of the Democratic Caucus can dictate procedural and substantive matters in the various committees and may well determine the legislative outcome on the House Floor. This is a most serious if not unconstitutional affront to our democratic system. Allegiance to the Caucus, under the “unit rule” procedure takes precedence over one’s conscience and the needs of one’s constituencies. 6
Suggested Reform: All caucus conferences should be open to the public and the press and the “unit rule” of caucus control over the voting rights of party members should be outlawed.
Chairman of the Committee on House Administration
Until recent years this committee was a very minor assignment with little more than routine bookkeeping chores, but when Congressman Wayne L. Hays became its chairman he transformed this committee into a substantial power base. In 1971 he pushed through a bill which authorized this committee to issue office allowances and personal benefits to Congressmen without a ratifying vote by the full House.
In short order Hays began authorizing the expenditure of funds by Congressmen without any specific legislative authority other than the general enabling act granted to his committee. Congressmen found themselves with a 116% increase in the number of trips a Member could make to his home District and back, an 85% increase in a Member’s stationery allowance, a 300% increase for optional travel and a 75% increase in the funds available for District office rentals.
Inflation had made some of these increases necessary, but the defect in the procedure was allowing the Committee on House Administration to pass out these expenditures involving tens of millions of dollars without the Congress specifically approving them. By this means the principle of accountability was violated and in all probability it also violated the Constitutional requirement in Article I, section 8 that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law….” An appropriation made by the ruling of a Congressional committee would hardly seem to satisfy this specific Constitutional requirement.
Suggested Reform: No committee should be authorized to commit the U.S. Treasury to any expenditure of funds which has not been specifically authorized by the Congress itself.
Chairman of the Rules Committee
There has to be a Rules Committee in the House to regulate the flow of legislation from the various committees to the House floor. However, party managers have manipulated the authority of this committee into a powerful choke-hold on the legislative process which can be devastating to the legitimate requirements of the law-making responsibilities of the House.
Every bill requires a “rule” from this committee before it can reach the Floor, therefore, the Rules Committee can effectively kill a piece of legislation simply by denying it a “rule.” Furthermore, the rule issued by the Committee on a particular bill can restrict the main body of the House from a full discussion or even prevent the bill from being changed. The Rules Committee can thereby cut off from Floor discussion a wide range of legislative options which might be available. To the average citizen it may seem totally nonsensical, but the fact remains that under existing procedures the Rules Committee can send a bill to the floor under a “closed rule” and no amendment to this bill can be offered from the Floor.
It is interesting that for many years the Speaker of the House was always the chairman of the Rules Committee. However, conservative Republican “Joe” Cannon so abused this double portion of power under the aegis of these two positions that they were separated in 1910. But it was virtually an idle gesture. The Speaker won the right to personally appoint the Chairman of the Rules Committee so the two continued to work for all practical purposes as one entity.
Suggested Remedy: All legislation should be the product of all the people’s representatives; therefore it should be sent to the Floor under an “open” rule. The “unit rule” should be outlawed.
A Political Party Exhibits Moral Decay When Left In Power Too Long
The history of the past 200 years clearly demonstrates that the weaknesses of any human structure such as the Congress will be ferreted out and exploited to the hilt by any political party which is allowed to remain in power too long. For example, the Republican Party thoroughly corrupted the legislative process during their long domination of Congress beginning in 1860 and extending off and on up until 1911. A similar reign of prolonged power by the Democrats began in 1933 and projected its control of Congress up through most of the next 48 years. In both cases the party leaders took advantage of structural weakness (or created some of their own) in order to impose their will on the people’s representatives, often to the serious detriment of the nation’s welfare.
One of the reasons why an objective, bi-partisan reform of the Congress is so desperately needed is the existence of several procedures and practices which short-circuit the legitimate law-making authority of the Congress as originally designed by the Founders. This has created a monstrous credibility gap between Washington and the people. This is what led the veteran press corps observer, Richard L. Strout, to suggest that we dump the whole system and adopt the parliamentary approach to law-making. Unfortunately, history has shown that this is not a viable option. We would be much better off keeping our Congress but cleaning off the barnacles from the ship of state.
Here are some of the biggest barnacles where power piles up in quantities that frustrate the healthy flow of legislative issues.
The Untouchable Committee Chairmen
During the four decades of almost continuous power in the Congress by the Democrats, the leadership has followed the custom of appointing committee chairmen according to their seniority. Once appointed, they remain in their positions until they die, retire, or the opposition party takes over. Three unfortunate and sometimes tragic developments have resulted from this practice.
First of all, it has given these committee chairmen such a sense of security in their jobs that they often become arrogant toward the whole body of Congress, including their own party. When Representative Philip Campbell of Kansas was serving as the chairman of the House Rules Committee, he said to the rest of the committee who were trying to get some important bills released:
“You can go to hell. It makes no difference what a majority of you decide. If it meets with my disapproval, it shall not be done. I am the committee. In me reposes absolute obstructive power.” 7
A second difficulty has been the reluctance of the party leadership to remove a chairman who has lost public confidence because of a sex scandal or other malfeasance in his personal life. A number of these instances have occurred just within the past few years. Party leaders have often behaved as though they were virtually powerless to remove these offenders.
A third problem has been senility. Some chairmen have been in their positions of power so long their metabolical processes have deteriorated. Eighty-four-year old Ray J. Madden of Indiana was finally defeated after serving 17 terms in the House. Prior to that time his advanced seniority had given him the chairmanship of the powerful Rules Committee and on several occasions his disorientation and inability to concentrate on the business at hand almost produced a crisis for the nation.
For example, during an international crisis involving an arms embargo, the House and Senate worked far into the night hammering out a joint resolution. Finally, the Senate passed the resolution and rushed it over to the House. However, the House could not act on the matter without a “rule” from the House Rules Committee. Right at this moment when Ray Madden, the chairman of the Rules Committee, was so urgently needed, he absent-mindedly rose from his seat, left the chamber, climbed into his car and went home. By the time the rest of the House realized what had happened it was too late. The Speaker refused to appoint a temporary chairman and so the House was forced to adjourn for a holiday without the needed action being taken.
Although most Democratic Congressmen sympathized with the elderly Madden, they nevertheless wanted the party leadership to replace him, but the seniority rule prevailed to the bitter end. Madden had the annoying habit of whistling during committee meetings. Members of the Rules Committee have been known to walk out of hearings in disgust because the chairman could not maintain a relevant train of thought in conducting the hearings.
Suggested Remedy: After each congressional election, new chairmen should be elected through secret ballot by the members of the majority party. No chairman should be elected for more than two years and no chairman should be allowed to succeed himself.
One Congressman stated that the idea of rotating chairmen would solve 90% of the problems presently plaguing the Congress.
Unpublicized Pay Raises
In 1967 the members of Congress felt they deserved a raise in pay but were hesitant to risk a backlash from the public because it was a time of high inflation and serious unemployment.
The party leadership decided to get the raise indirectly and without publicity. This was achieved by establishing a new commission to recommend pay rates for members of Congress, top executives in the government, and federal judges.
A new law was passed providing that this Commission could make recommendations to the President and the President could then incorporate the suggested raises in his next budget. The law further provided that unless Congress passed a “motion of disapproval” which would cancel these recommendations, the raises went into effect automatically. The Democrats were in charge of Congress and they made any “motion of disapproval” a non-privileged motion. This meant that no individual Member could get such a motion onto the Floor for debate without the acquiescence of the majority leadership.
Later on, the 94th Congress further subverted the system by passing a bill tying the salaries of the Members of Congress and other top government officials to the “cost of living” index. This provided that as the cost of living goes up, so does a Member’s pay. He will never have to cast a vote on the matter.
It is believed these developments emphasize a need which has existed for a long time to get the people’s representatives in both the House and the Senate off the federal payroll. James Madison said this whole arrangement was “indecent.”
Suggested Solution: It is recommended that a uniform level of salary be established by an act of Congress; however, except for expenses directly related to the work of the national government, all salaries or other emoluments should be paid to Senators and Members of the House of Representatives by their respective states.
It is believed that this proposal would be politically popular among the people. However, because of the provision in Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution, this proposal would require a Constitutional amendment.
Democrats Attempt to Force Their Leaders to Reform Congress
When it became apparent to the Democrats in Congress that the best interests of both the country and the party were being defeated by machinations set up by a small handful of their party leaders who had entrenched themselves in positions of power, they decided to force through a reform bill which would make the Congress functional again.
On January 31, 1973, the House voted to set up a bi-partisan Select Committee with Congressman Richard Bolling, a Democrat from Missouri, as the chairman. This committee was to begin by restructuring the confused network of House Committee assignments. Some idea of the fantastic miasma of mishmash which exists in Committee assignments may be deducted from the fact that 33 committees and 65 subcommittees claim jurisdiction over some phase of Energy Research and Development.
Education is another example. There are 22 standing committees in the house and 18 of them claim some degree of jurisdiction over education. In addition there are more than 70 subcommittees involved. Collectively, they have given birth to 439 federal programs administered by 50 separate federal agencies relating to higher education alone.
As a result of this multilateral distribution of the committee workload, there are numerous hearings, mountains of paper in voluminous reports, a constant flow of press conferences, lots of noise, but no decisive legislative action.
The whole procedure is maddening to the bureaus and administrators in the Executive Branch of the government. For example, in merely eight months officials involved in energy were called to testify before 86 separate Congressional panels. They made 344 appearances, gave 732 hours of testimony based on an estimated 15,000 hours of briefings and preparing reports or memoranda. 8
It was a herculean task for the Bolling Committee to start unraveling such a snarled ball of yarn, but after 14 months of exhaustive hearings and an expenditure of $1.5 million of taxpayers money, the Select Committee on Congressional Reform was ready to report.
The Proposed Reform is Stonewalled
The Bolling Report for Congressional reform was strongly supported by both Democrats and Republicans, but when the Speaker and various committee chairmen saw what it was going to do to their individual kingdoms of power, there was a mad scramble to sidetrack the whole proposal.
This was accomplished by the Democratic leaders calling a caucus and voting by secret ballot to assign the Bolling plan to a subcommittee for complete revision. Therefore a watered-down bill was pushed through which changed nothing of significance and House business continued along its muddled meandering as in the past.
Many Democrats, including Congressman Bolling, were bitterly disappointed that this much-needed reform had been stonewalled by the emasculating forces in their own party. In the end they had received far more support from the Republicans than they had received from their own leaders.
The Republicans Set Up a Task Force to Map Out a Reform
Shortly after the Bolling plan failed, the Republican leadership in the House established a task force to examine the broad spectrum of the whole legislative process in order to come up with some viable answers of their own.
Because of the history of the Bolling Select Committee, the Republicans knew they would get substantial support from many Democrats if the Republicans ever gained control of the House so that a reform could be initiated.
Here are some of the major recommendations of the Republican task force.
1. Conduct open committee hearings except where public disclosure would be inimical to the national interest.
2. All committee records should be available to the public with a recorded vote on each committee decision regardless of the number present at a hearing or conference.
3. Jurisdiction on specific issues should be assigned exclusively to specific committees.
4. Members of Congress should only be allowed to serve on one standing committee at a time.
5. Each standing committee should outline at the beginning of each Congress its plans for “oversight” supervision of those governmental operations assigned to that committee.
6. Automatically terminate every government program which does not undergo a mandatory four-year review and justify the reasons for its continuance.
7. Since the majority party has a tendency to swell the ranks of government to its own advantage, the main oversight watchdog of the Congress — the Government Operations Committee — should be permanently under the direction of the minority party.
8. No committee member should be allowed to turn over his vote to another member and thereby record a “proxy” vote when he was not even present at the meeting.
9. No member should be bound by party leaders in caucus to vote a certain way. The “unit rule” should be outlawed.
10. There should be a firm schedule of legislation published in the Congressional Record at least one week in advance and all bills should be considered by the full House.
11. The Congressional Record should reflect accurately and authentically what actually happens in the chambers of the House and Senate just as the record does in the courts. No member should be allowed to change his remarks on the floor, but supplemental material should be authorized so long as it is clearly identified as an addendum to what was said on the Floor. Supplementary material appearing in the record should be restricted to matters of legislative interest.
12. Minority party members should be allowed up to one-third of the total committee staff in order to adequately prepare the data needed to reflect an opposing view where needed.
13. Party representation on committees or subcommittees should be apportioned according to their relative membership in the House itself.
Bring the Congress Back Under the Constitution
The Republican Task Committee also recommended that the Congress should have its own legislative goals and not depend on the power-building tendency of the Executive Branch to dictate the legislative priorities of the Congress.
The Congress needs to show its independence by vigorously pursuing a policy of bringing all programs of the government back under the Constitution. It is estimated that over half of the federal budget is used for programs that are not authorized by the Constitution nor its amendments. The fact that the Supreme Court has embraced the political climate of collectivism and sustained these non-constitutional expenditures, merely compounds the offense against the American people. It does not make them Constitutional. In a future study we will discuss the Judicial Reform Amendment which is needed to bring the Supreme Court back under the control of the people.
It should be kept in mind that under the principles of Socialism which have dominated government policy for over 40 years, the Executive Department is the source of central control and the Legislature is merely a cosmetic agency of formal approval or a rubber-stamp endorsement. The Founding Fathers had it turned around the other way. The Congress was to decide policy and programming. The Executive was simply to administer it. In fact, all the Constitution allows the President to do is “give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend for their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” (Article II, Section 3) It was up to the Congress to decide what to do about it.
What Socialism Has Done to the Congress
Only the older Congressmen remember what it was like before the powers of government invaded the regulation of nearly the entire economy and increased taxation 10,000%. In 1954 Congressman John J. Rhodes was the first Republican elected from the state of Arizona. He later became the minority leader in the House. Congressman Rhodes describes how different it was in those days when Congress was operating within the channels of the Constitution far more strictly than it is today. He writes:
“Most everything in those days was done on a smaller scale. The staffs were smaller, The workload was smaller. The pressures were lighter. When I first started as a Congressman I had a staff of five…. In the early days, I received an average of ten to twelve constituent letters a day. Now it is a rare day that I do not receive at least 150 letters from home. A typical session [of Congress] usually lasted until July or maybe early August. When the time arrived for Congress to adjourn, usually at the hottest point in summer, my administrative assistant would pack up office supplies and files and we would all move back to Arizona for the remainder of the year. It was unusual for a Congressman to be able to afford a permanent district office in those days.” 9
Much that has happened since those days has literally fulfilled the warning of Thomas Jefferson when he wrote that: “a single consolidated government would become the most corrupt government on earth.”
Twenty-one years later he saw certain influences which he felt would become rooted in our society and destroy the American charter of liberty. He wrote:
“Our government is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.” 10
In the Federalist Paper No. 45, Madison pointed out how important it was to prevent the Federal Government from meddling in the affairs of the States and the privacy of individuals. Today the continuous violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments has become typical of the American life style.
Unconstitutional Programs Should be Closed Out, Not Phased Out
We need people elected to Congress in 1982 who will take their oath of office seriously and start a massive roll-back away from Socialism and federal collectivism so that Americans can breathe free under the Constitution once again.
The roll-back should commence early in 1983. The first order of business should be the reform of Congress itself so that it can become operational once more. It must reflect the will of the people instead of party bosses if it is to regain its credibility.
Then we need a massive deregulation and removal of the federal government from the economy. This does not mean the doctrine of laissez faire as some would suggest, because government does indeed have the responsibility to serve as a referee, but it was not intended to become involved as a competitor and certainly not as a mad meddler.
The Congress should start cutting the budget a hundred billion dollars at a time for three or four years. Programs of no Constitutional authority or which have proved useless should be cut out, not phased out. For some reason or other “phased-out” programs never die.
There needs to be a massive monetary reform with somebody besides bankers setting up the system. We need to go back to Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln. We need to start issuing our own money based on precious metals and begin outlawing fractional banking.
We need a judicial reform where five Supreme Court justices can no longer impose their will on the people in violation of sound constitutional principles and the well-being of the country.
We need to revive the Monroe Doctrine, use peaceful pressures to clip the talons of terroristic foreign governments, and build the technology of our armed strength where an attack involves too great a risk for Communist adventurers.
Reduce the Sessions of Congress to Five Months
Only legislatures in Socialist countries need to be in session year-round. An American Congress should spend two months in conducting its committee hearings, and no more than three months in evaluating and finalizing legislation. Then they should go home, This was the original design and we need to get back to it.
The President can always call a special session if necessary but even these, except in time of war or serious emergency, should never extend beyond two months.
Congressmen should maintain their homes and live most of the time in the states they represent. They should be compensated by their respective states and not look upon themselves as part of the federal establishment as many of them do now. In our day Congressmen have to represent around half-a-million people when they go to Washington. They cannot adequately maintain contact with the people they represent unless they are living among them most of the time. When they live almost year-round in Washington, they feel they should be “passing laws” and solving all the problems of the universe. We already have too many laws, too many programs, and too many taxes to pay for them. What Americans need above everything else is more freedom from government. The government has plenty to do fulfilling its assigned task of providing a better quality of justice, a stronger national security, a sounder dollar, and a free flow of commerce.
Restore the Concept of a Citizen Congress
The Founders expected members of Congress to come from the professional ranks of the citizenry. The idea of major offices being occupied by life-long professional politicians was abhorrent to them.
With the passing of time, however, a variety of abuses developed which required remedial action. For example, lawyers or businessmen elected to Congress on the East Coast or the vicinity of Washington, D.C., began taking off Friday and Monday for private business and were only serving in Congress Tuesday to Thursday. In derision other members began calling them the Tuesday-Thursday Club.
The Standards and Ethics Committee also found some Congressmen receiving large payroll checks or dividends from their former businesses or employers. A conflict of interest could arise in these cases.
It was also observed that a number of better-known Congressmen and Senators were often absent making convention speeches for substantial fees.
Efforts to remedy these abuses have proven neither effective nor fair. In fact, the requirement that members of Congress divest themselves of all business connections and most other sources of income has created a Congress of men and women who are so dependent on their jobs as Congressmen that they are subject to potential intimidation by special interest groups and their lobbies.
Suggested Remedy: Only a small prescribed number of absences from Congressional sessions should be allowed. Fines should be automatically imposed for absences in excess of the minimum. Instead of requiring a divestiture of stocks and business connections, a Congressman should be required to declare the percentage of his income from each and every source and be subject to a major penalty set by Congress for failure to do so.
1982 Should Give the Nation a 1983 Reform
Many Americans think they get reform by electing a good President. This is not true. The law-making power is in the Congress. That’s where all of the Socialist programs were passed. That’s where the taxes were increased. That’s where the regulatory throttle was yoked onto the economy. If Americans want reform in 1983 they have got to work for it in 1982. Every voter can readily discover whether he is represented by a big spender and a puppet of party bosses. That kind of representative will never support reform.
Every voter should pick his representatives from among those candidates who have demonstrated their integrity and are committed to sound economics and fundamental Constitutional principles.
Every candidate should be asked if he has taken a course on the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers. If not, invite him to do so.
No candidate in either party should be elected who is not totally committed to reform. We are too far down the trail to risk another heavy dose of big-brother smotherism. There is nothing ahead but economic collapse, misery and enforced suffering by the people if we don’t start moving back now.
1983 has to be the year.