Saving Congress from Itself: Emancipating the States and Empowering Their People

Saving Congress from Itself: Emancipating the States and Empowering Their People

James L Buckley

Language: English

Pages: 120

ISBN: 1594037744

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Saving Congress from Itself proposes a single reform: eliminate all federal grants-in-aid to state and local governments. This action would reduce federal spending by over $600 billion a year and have a profound effect on how we govern ourselves. The proliferation of federal grants-in-aid programs is of recent vintage: only about 100 such grants existed before Lyndon Johnson took office, and now they number more than 1,100. Eliminating grants to the states will result in enormous savings in federal and state administrative costs; free states to set their own priorities; and improve the design and implementation of programs now subsidized by Washington by eliminating federal regulations that attend the grants. In short, it will free states and their subdivisions to resume full responsibility for all activities that fall within their competence, such as education, welfare, and highway construction and maintenance. And because members of Congress spend major portions of their time creating grants and allocating funds assigned to them (think earmarks), eliminating grants will enable Congress to devote its time to responsibilities that are uniquely national in character.

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organization, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. State agencies have also used the leverage of federal funding to achieve changes in state laws, as illustrated in a study by University of Virginia Professor Martha Derthick (The Influence of Federal Grants). Massachusetts, like other New England states, had long relied on town selectmen to administer assistance to the poor. In the 1960s, this rankled the state’s welfare director, who sought a rule requiring that

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District of Columbia. It will merely require adjustments in the destinations of their tax payments. If Congress adopts this proposal, it will phase out over $700 billion of current federal expenditures (the $640.8 billion in federal grants estimated for FY 2015 plus an estimate of more than $60 billion in federal administration costs) and take a major step towards balancing the nation’s books. It will also eliminate the substantial costs associated with the overlapping federal and state

the president to a single six-year term and members of the Senate and House to two and six terms respectively—with, of course, appropriate grandfathering provisions to encourage disinterested votes on the part of those who would have to approve it. The arguments against congressional term limits are that it takes time for newcomers to become effective legislators, that limits on tenure will increase the influence of staff over the work of Congress, and that term limits will result in the loss of

the virtues of the federalism that its framers built into our Constitution. They consciously limited the federal government’s authority to the handful of responsibilities they thought necessary to enable their new nation to function effectively; and with the enactment of the Tenth Amendment, they explicitly preserved the states’ exclusive authority over all other proper governmental concerns. That, at least, was their intention. FEDERALISM’S EMASCULATION Unfortunately, those who insisted on the

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