You’ve heard all the debate about President Bush’s budget over the last few days.

Some say the $2.6 trillion spending plan is too big. Some say it is too small. Some quibble with certain programs getting cut. Others say they are not getting cut enough.

The American people sit by and their eyes glaze over.

What they never hear in the course of this debate is something I’m going to tell you: Almost every spending program you’ve heard about in this plan and others like it is unconstitutional.

  • There is no justification whatsoever for the federal government being involved in Medicare, which gets a $50 billion increase in Bush’s budget.

  • There is no justification whatsoever for the federal government being involved in subsidizing farmers.

  • There is no justification whatsoever for the federal government being involved with arts funding.

  • There is no justification whatsoever for the federal government being involved in education.

I could go on and on. Nearly everything the federal government does today is a violation of its most sacred trust with the American people – the Constitution.

The Constitution just doesn’t matter to the clowns in Washington any more – not to the executive branch, the legislative branch or the judicial.

It’s not even a matter of theory any more. Twenty years ago, there were debates within the Republican Party about the constitutional validity of Washington’s meddling in education, for instance. Today there is not. Today, it’s just a matter of which party is going to be more “compassionate” spending your money.

And if spending your money is the definition of compassion, President Bush is Mother Teresa.

“This Republican Party is much less fiscally conservative than the one that took Congress 10 years ago,” said Brian Riedl, a budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “That Congress believed in eliminating entire departments that weren’t justified. You don’t hear that these days. I wish we did.”

No one in Washington, with the exception of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, raises the constitutional test for legislation. No one asks if a spending plan is grounded in morality and law. It’s all one big utilitarian debate.

As President Bush explained it: “I fully understand that sometimes it’s hard to eliminate a program that sounds good. The important question that needs to be asked for all constituencies is whether or not the programs achieve a certain result.”

But that is not the first question that should be asked in policy debates in Washington.

The primary questions should be: Are we authorized to do this under the Constitution? Where in the Constitution are we as lawmakers empowered to pass this piece of legislation? What is my authority as defined by the Constitution?

Have you ever heard those questions asked? You can read tens of thousands of pages of debates in the House and Senate on spending programs and never find the word “Constitution” mentioned. Read all the news accounts of this $2.6 trillion budget plan and tell me how many times you see references to the Constitution.

It’s not about results. Because results can’t be measured until after the money is spent. It’s about authority. It’s about power. It’s about freedom. It’s about the Constitution and the limits it places on the president, on Congress and on the courts.

And it matters not whether you elect Republicans or Democrats. Already, some Republicans have joined the Democrats in condemning Bush’s outrageous overspending plan as too cheap.

“Programs like Amtrak, beach replenishment and education funding have so much support in Congress that I believe the funding will be restored,” said Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del.

Do you think we’ll ever get back to constitutional government in the United States? Will it take the introduction of a third party committed to the principles of our founding fathers? Or will it require those of us who never broke faith with the Constitution to start over again – to start anew, in a new place, with like-minded people who understand the principles of self-government?

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