by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer
George Will is a columnist with whom I sometimes disagree, but this time he has hit the nail on the head so squarely that every American should hear his words. He pointed out that without the power of the purse, and I paraphrase, the Congress has no meaningful powers at all. Sadly, the Congress has surrendered its power of the purse to the Executive Branch. This can and should be reversed. Only a lack of will (no pun intended) prevents it from happening.
The Constitution was designed in such a way as to prevent any one branch of government from overwhelming any other branch. This is why it is ridiculous for Democrats to complain that Congress is thwarting the will of the President. It would be equally accurate to say that the President is thwarting the will of the Congress. The difference is that Congress is largely populated by cowards whose only aim is to get reelected, whereas the president is a far left ideologue who will stop at nothing (and stoop to anything) to enact his agenda.
Will’s proposed remedy is simple and practical. Instead of waiting an entire year to submit an all-or-nothing budget to the president, Congress should send smaller, targeted appropriations bills, let us say, one every month, or even every week. For example, one bill might allocate money to military purposes, while another addresses welfare payments. The threat of “government shutdown” would all but disappear. While this would present problems with budget coordination, those problems would pale in comparison to the fifteen-trillion-dollar national debt, and the fifty trillion in unfunded government liabilities.
To Will’s proposal, I add one of my own. To augment the power of Congress, one must reduce the power of individual members of Congress. Huh? While it sounds counterintuitive, it makes sense. Let me explain.
The original Constitution mandated not more than one representative for each thirty thousand voters. Unfortunately, each representative now represents vastly more than that number of voters. This gives each representative enormous power, and makes them attractive targets for lobbyists, bribes, and other forms of corruption. As a result, no ordinary citizen can get a personal meeting with his or her representative, except under extraordinary circumstances, for example a fat wad of cash.
If instead of 430 representatives in Congress there were 4,300, then no one representative would have so much influence over legislation that his vote would be worth a bribe or lobbying expense. Ordinary citizens would have far more influence in Congress. In other words, we would govern ourselves, instead of being ruled by distant over-lords.
As it now stands, Congress does not represent you or me. It represents its elected members, and is owned by special interest groups with lots of money. That situation is the opposite of a republic. It is a disguised form of tyranny.
Left as it now is, the system will collapse, and indeed is collapsing, of its own weight. It is like a giant tree, outwardly majestic, but inwardly rotten. Its collapse will be sudden and catastrophic. Restoration of the republic will not be easy to accomplish. Neither was its establishment in 1776.
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Footnotes concerning “the power of the purse.”
“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 7, clause 1
“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 9, clause 7