Monday, January 16, 2012

A Part-Time Congress Is Not the Answer

- A Well-Regulated and Restrained Federal Government -

Texas Governor and Presidential candidate Rick Perry has suggested a part-time Congress as a way to reduce the power of the federal government. Governor Perry is still one of the candidates that I would prefer to both President Obama and to leading GOP candidate Mitt Romney but, in this instance, Governor Perry is wrong.

English: Detail of Preamble to Constitution of...
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I am certainly in favor of the reduction of federal power, but this is the wrong place to start. I understand that people are disappointed with Congress, but the US Representatives and the US Senators are directly elected by the people. If we citizens do our jobs properly, then we should want them to be full-time agents of the American people. We have certainly made mistakes in whom we have chosen, but we can also correct those poor choices.

Far more importantly, the power in Washington will not go away simply because Congress is in session a lesser amount of time. All of the power that the federal government has purposefully accumulated over the past 150 years or so will not disappear. Those powers will be wielded by others that we do not elect. The usage of those powers will be publicly justified as the necessary means of conducting the people's business.

The proper way to uncoil the serpentine rope that now seems to entwine every portion of our lives is to untie those cords that the federal government has used to restrict our state and local governments. Those tightly knotted bindings are made of the very money we pay in taxes to the federal government. The chains that bind our lesser governments are forged in taxpayer gold; taken and given to both discourage disobedience and encourage passivity.

The federal government has used federal grant and federal program money to ensure that state and federal governments follow its directives. Those directives have prevented governments that are closer to the people from developing more efficient, more responsive and more innovative measures.

The proper way to lessen the far-removed power of the federal government is to restore the proper responsibilities and the proper funding for such power from the federal government to the individual states. The closer government is to the people, the safer the people will be.

In the meantime, if Congress is unable to exercise its power, that power will devolve to unelected agencies, enforced by unelected bureaucrats. Those agencies and federal employees will fall under the influence of a full-time executive branch if not indirectly under its power. This would be an outcome that would outrage every Founding Father, but especially Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, though for different reasons. 

A part-time Congress would be at a loss in writing proper legislation. It would find itself dependent on a full-time bureaucratic staff and the real experts on individual issues: full-time lobbyists. People forget that lobbyists provide more than money; they also provide information. Like all good salesmen they are well-informed about their products and their offered solutions. I do not think that this is what Governor Perry or his supporters desire.

The problem is not Congress. The problem is the unrestrained power of the federal government. Give the power back to the people and to the individual states. Follow the 10th Amendment and the original intent of the Founders and restore the power and the responsibility where it belongs. This should be our ultimate goal in repairing our wayward government.

Written by Ken Carroll

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