Déjà vu, all over again?


By: Guest Authors

By: David Coughlin (dscough@yahoo.com)

I don’t know about you, but I voted in November to send a message to stop run-away spending, stop government expansion, and defend our country from our enemies. I voted against incumbents, both Republican and Democrats, who voted against my wishes. Yes, I celebrated with my compatriots across the country who voted the same way I did. Unfortunately I am sensing that this new class of politicians may disappoint just like the last one!

Already I am getting a sinking feeling in my gut that this new crop of “politicians” may fall prey to the same “inside the beltway” disease. I did not vote for “business as usual,” but instead I voted for representatives who would begin to dismantle the damage done over the last two years by the current administration. As Mark Meckler, from Tea Party Patriots, said, “If this new bunch of representatives doesn’t do what we want, we’ll toss them out also until we elect ones who will.”

When these candidates were running for office earlier this year, they were asked about the “Contract from America” as a blueprint for actions. Some signed up to endorse this list, while others danced and weaved around the question because they couldn’t support one or two actions. These ten items sure looked like a common sense list to guide their initial days in office.

When these candidates were running for office earlier this year, they were also asked about Congressman Paul Ryan’s “Road Map for America’s Future” as a comprehensive plan to begin to address the debt burden facing this country. A few endorsed this approach while others bobbed and weaved around the question to avoid getting linked to some of the more controversial elements in the road map.

Finally the Republican Party published a “Pledge to America” as a platform guide for actions once in office. Again this document also did not gain sufficient traction by the candidates to give confidence that it would actually be followed by the new class in Congress.

The recent leak of the President’s Deficit Commission preliminary report gave some insight on how the new Congress will act. Unfortunately it looks a lot like “business as usual.” Capping spending at the highest rate in recent history is not spending restraint. Capping tax revenues at a rate never seen before portends a huge unspecified tax increase in our future. Finally raising taxes to new highs to fund new expanded spending is not the sign of innovative solutions, but rather “incrementally raising the heat under the pan to boil the frog!” Tweaking the indecipherable tax code is not the answer either, since fundamental overhaul is long overdue with eventual replacement with a flat Fair Tax being the ultimate objective.

Incremental changes will not fix systemic problems. Just like jumping a motorcycle across the Grand Canyon can’t be achieved with a series of 100 yard mini-jumps. Our government suffers from 75 years of incremental “improvements” that have all but obscured the initial admirable objectives from the kluge of regulations and governmental over-reach that has accumulated through the years. For America to return to its limited government roots, much of the rules and regulations created over the years must be re-evaluated and in some cases discarded completely.

The fundamental question that must be asked is what is the proper role of the federal government? The Constitution tells us that “The powers not delegated to the United States (federal government), nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’ The first thing to be done therefore would be to abolish more than half of the existing Cabinet Departments of: Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, and Transportation as unconstitutional expansions of federal power.

The federal government today is doing many things never envisioned by the Founding Fathers, and we should stop doing anything not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. The next thing would be to privatize many federal programs and agencies that the government has no legitimate role: Social Security; Medicare; Fannie Mae; Freddie Mac; Ginnie Mae; all ownership positions in various private banks, insurance, and automobile companies; the Postal Service; Amtrak; and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

We not only need to change direction, but we need to repair the damage done by repealing a number of laws that stretched the Constitution all out of shape. The transformation of this country back to its roots of free market capitalism, limited government, and a strong defense will take at least one term to reverse the damage done by the current administration and at least another term to begin the downsizing of our federal government back to the Founding Father’s common sense approach to government.

The federal government could easily be cut in half by privatizing or transferring programs to the states where they belong. This reduction in size and mission should also reduce federal taxes by at least half. Imagine a world with half the federal government and half the regulations!

Many Americans have been yearning for someone to appear who can describe what needs to be done and the steps to fulfill his vision. Where are the business people to help devise realistic and pragmatic transition plans to guide us in un-doing the damage already done? The current politician culture is an incremental one of “What can be done?” not a transformational one of “What must be done?”

What I sense is that there is no one on the horizon with foresight enough to lead this required change.

David Coughlin recently retired from IBM after 31 years. He is now a political pundit who manages his web site “Return to Common Sense” and is an active member of the White Plains Tea Party. He was educated at West Point (Bachelor of Science, 1971) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Masters, Administrative Science, 1976). He currently resides with his wife in Hawthorne, NY.

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