Next week I will have the opportunity to share with thousands of libertarian activists at FreedomFest in Las Vegas about America’s last chance to return to something resembling constitutionally limited government short of revolution.
It’s a simple plan. Doable. It will take the commitment of libertarians and conservatives. And, at the very least, it will determine once and for all whether the Republican Party will live up to its limited-government rhetoric or continue to enable Washington’s long march to unlimited government – otherwise known as tyranny.
But first the problem.
The founders of America did not believe in direct taxation – for all the right reasons. But, back in 1913, Americans were sold a bill of goods called the income tax. At the time, proponents swore it would never be more than a 1 percent tax and would provide the means to institute all kinds of wonderful programs. Once the camel’s nose was under the tent, it didn’t take long for income taxes to skyrocket. Then came the socialist notion of a “progressive” tax. Soon, Washington insiders began spending money designed to empower themselves at the expense of the people and the constitutional limits on federal authority.
Still, Americans didn’t like high taxes. And Republicans especially found they couldn’t get elected by supporting tax increases. So a new mechanism for spending was found – one with virtually no accountability to the people.
Today, about 40 percent of federal government spending is with this kind of funny money – borrowed from banks and foreign countries. Now, thanks to this irresponsible, immoral policy, Washington has amassed nearly $17.5 trillion in debt with no end in sight. Periodically, Congress is asked to raise the limit on borrowing, and it seldom disappoints. It has been raised more than 100 times since 1960.
It’s politically tougher for Congress to raise taxes to support unlimited government than it is to simply raise the debt limit and borrow money to spend on unconstitutional programs.
It’s understandable why Democrats, mostly Keynesians who believe deficit spending stimulates the economy, would follow such a path blindly. But what about Republicans who at least give lip service to limits on government power and frequently condemn unchecked, unaccountable borrowing and spending?
That’s where my plan comes into play.
I’ve been promoting the “No More Red Ink” campaign since January 2011. It is designed to pressure House Republicans (and House Republicans alone) to freeze borrowing with a simple rejection of raising the debt limit. To date, it has been responsible for delivering to House Republicans more than 1.5 million red letters demanding they stop digging what is rapidly becoming a bottomless pit of debt.
With control of only one house of Congress, Republicans have held within their hands the power to return Washington to something resembling constitutionally limited government practically overnight – with one negative vote.
What would be the effect?
It would instantly require a reduction in federal spending of more than $1 trillion a year.
It would spell the end of the Obamacare nightmare.
It would spell the end of the unconstitutional and wasteful Department of Education.
It would spell the end of the job-killing Environmental Protection Agency.
It would spell the end of taxpayer subsidies for state propaganda through NPR and PBS.
It would spell the end of taxpayer subsidies for Planned Parenthood.
It might even require the dismantling of the National Security Agency and its spying on American citizens.
Worst case scenario, Republicans continue to enable Barack Obama’s spending priorities by giving him all the funny money he needs to “fundamentally transform America.”
I say it’s time to put Republicans to the ultimate test.
According to most polls, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of freezing the debt cold turkey. Some 80 percent of Republican voters support it. About 70 percent of independent voters favor it. And a remarkable 60 percent of Democratic voters support it.
For purely mercenary reasons, if Republicans are looking for ways to expand their political base, taking a hard line on borrowing would seem to be the ticket.
The challenge is to launch a grass-roots movement that defies Democrats’ instincts and challenges Republicans to live up to their rhetoric.
If the outpouring is strong enough, I think Republicans, who have capitulated reluctantly to pressure against raising taxes, will reluctantly capitulate to these popular demands.
If not, we know where we stand. Constitutionally limited government is dead. And the two-party system is a hopeless sham.
Then we know it’s time for revolution.