The Second American Revolution
After the Ryan Plan, what next?
Chairman and VP nomine Congressman Paul Ryan has crafted an important and timely plan for how the United States gets out of going over a physical cliff within the next 3 years. It is the only plan on the table to date, and it has been rightly endorsed by the House Republicans, the Romney campaign, and most conservative thinkers who have seriously studied it. Chairman Ryan is a rare Member who not only brings enormous competence but also political courage to his office. He has shown this party and the American people how to lead, not how to push or pull, but how to lead at a time when our current President does none of the above. He clearly is an extraordinary Republican and a great VP pick.
But let’s assume for now that we have prevailed in November and the Ryan Plan is on the table and in the process of approval and then full implementation. It is not a quick fix, but a carefully nuanced strategy for starting to control spending not using simple across the board percentage reductions, but thoughtful choices, even restructuring. For some it does not make sufficient changes fast enough. Here it is important to remember, that political change is "the art of the possible". You need to lead, but not so far out in front that a majority of the folks can’t keep up. This is critical to successful political reform. Chairman Ryan and Gov. Romney both clearly understand leadership in this 2012 political time and space.
Stopping the spending is the outcry of the Tea Party and the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Stopping the spending is an important and strategic first step and we are starting to make progress. In 30 years of working with Congress and Wash, D.C. this change is palpable and the Tea Party Caucus is why it is and why it continues. They, and their leadership, have made a difference – critical to the future of America.
But stopping the spending will not solve the problem.
Yes, we MUST stop the escalation of spending in almost all areas of governance. We need to do the same at the state and local levels as well, and we are, but I’ll focus here on the federal system. You see, what many don’t clearly understand is that spending is as much a function of legal mandates (requirements of law) created by Congress as it is the personality of Congress and any Administration. In many areas if you only reduce spending, you may cause harm to essential economic activity – activities that, as a function of law, require federal permits, permissions, consultations, etc. to create the jobs and economic activity essential to our future and our energy independence.
Clear examples of such are Section 404 permits from the Army Corps of Engineers. Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultations, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes for any resource related project that requires a federal permit, a host of EPA permits, Section 106 consultations dealing with historic properties – this list is very long.
If we only reduce spending but do not addresses the "causes" of such spending, we can harm economic activity so critical to jobs and economic growth as well as our own energy independence.
If we leave these legal requirements on the books, do you not think left leaning special interests will not go to court and stop everything?
We MUST think seriously about beginning a formalized process of systematically peeling away these federal legal mandates that cause and justify federal spending. This is by far the more difficult challenge to this President, to this Party, and to the immediate future of a vibrant America.
So, what should we do to continue our efforts in spending reductions while at the same time beginning to reduce, if not also restructure, the scope of the federal government? This is the broader issue, the more fundamental question we need to seriously begin a party and national conversation about. This is what this short white paper is about.
On August 24, 2012, there was a motion at the RNC Platform Committee during their consideration of the Government Reform Subcommittee Report, and offered by the Delegate from Alaska, which outlined a detailed strategy by our new President and hopefully our new Congress to begin this effort. Although it had been presented to the subcommittee its author was not a member of that committee and it was not considered. Such were the rules of that subcommittee. So it was offered on the floor of the full committee at the beginning of its consideration of the Government Reform Plank of the Platform. As it was distributed and then presented, a number of members of the Platform Committee voiced surprise, serous interest, and a desire to have an opportunity for discussion and more background. The proposal was shocking, far too bold to be "argued" at the time given the constraints of time of the full committee, but since it was placed on the table and in that forum, a number of committee members and other Republican leaders have approached and asked for much more detail and expressed a serious interest in keeping this discussion open. This White Paper is in response to these requests.
What is the proper or most acceptable scope of our federal government?
No question this is an issue that can be debated long and hard, with serious deep and broadening chasms in our national political landscape, and often with few early winners. But, wait a minute; one of the most overshadowing questions during the Constitutional Congress was this very issue. Thirteen states were frankly and correctly afraid of a strong, ever encroaching federal government. There is really no question that our current federal construct is inconsistent with what these founding states and their delegates embraced in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention. Keep in mind that for about ten years, this issue rose as states tried to address cross state issues and came to understand that there needed to be some level of federal governance. Why was this cornerstone issue so important at this time? What were their fears and what did they craft as the solution? Is this framework still relevant today?
The function and purpose of the Constitution, among other things, was to clearly establish the limits, they insisted on very specific limits – where there should be no lack of clarity, of a new federal government while at the same time clearly respecting sovereign states and individuals.
Within the Constitution there is a list of clearly "enumerated powers" specifically and solely assigned to the federal government. Since ratification and the inclusion of the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, these have been expanded and further enlarged by court decisions. Unfortunately, for about the past seven decades, Congress has paid little if any attention to these clear limitations and instead launched an ever escalating and expanding "extra-constitutional" wave of far reaching laws dramatically expanding the scope, the power and control, and thus the cost of the federal government to the clear detriment of "sovereign" states, and the individual and the financial security of our nation. Thankfully the new House majority now requires that any bill introduced clearly state under what specific Constitutional authority it should be considered.
But there is no question that we do have an authentic, clearly defined, adjudicated list of specific - even exclusive powers or responsibilities assigned to the federal government as a function of Constitutional law. The challenge now is to work back from where we are towards that list of enumerated powers and in so doing constrict the existing mega-government that now overshadows states and individuals. Something clearly our Founders, did not want to happen, and clearly feared.
Controversial? No question. In fact in many ways this is revolutionary – and for a good reason.
Appropriate? Little question. If we are going to reduce "scope" it is the only plan we have.
Essential? Absolutely. Both in scope and cost, it is essential.
Difficult? Without question.
Possible, even probable? Yes – with clear strong leadership and a plan.
Such an effort may cause fear and concern in a wide range of contemporary special interests now either employed or dependent of these same authorities, agencies, and programs. Can this be fairly addressed in a national culture now so dependent? Can this level of structural change be accomplished without harming the political futures of the party and those politicos who initiate such a task? Can we enable new coalitions, new power bases, new interests that might just offset any negative reaction? Where to start?
Not many Americans can list the enumerated powers in the Constitution, so here they are:
To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts,
Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Note that many
Now, I would submit to you that this is a long and substantive list of "powers" and will require significant taxation and spending, but it is far less than what we are now attempting to provide. Frankly, I think Congress will still be very busy operating within these powers.
So how should we proceed? My suggestion is that the President, in consultation with our new Congressional leadership, announce the immediate formation of a Commission on Government Reform (in some ways similar to the Grace Commission under Pres. Reagan but with a broader mandate) to include key Members of Congress, past federal officials, and a couple Governors to review, program by program, all functions of the federal government and to make specific programmatic recommendations to the President and Congress.
First we need to know exactly what we are talking about. What are the programs, agencies, activities, etc that we need to review and consider?
Some of the more objective entities in Washington, D.C. are the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Both of these entities are controlled by Congress, so it is the leadership of Congress who must initiate these requests, but the President should ask.
We suggest posing the following questions to both entities:
What are the enumerated powers of the Constitution as amended?
What federal programs (in their purpose and function) clearly fall within these enumerated powers?
What federal programs do not, clearly falling outside of these enumerated powers?
Are their some programs where there is a question as to whether they do or do not "clearly" fall within our outside of these enumerated powers? Explain in detail why.
This is then an "academic" apolitical process that can quite quickly be organized and cooperatively accomplished by the CRS and the GAO. Their combined report should not take more than 90 days as it really is just a function of inventorying laws and case decisions, even with printing. The report then becomes a public and powerful document not only available to Congress but to all Americans – and it MUST be on the Web when presented.
During these 90 days of research, the Federal Commission on Government Reform would be formally established by Executive Action of the President, but in consultation with the leadership of the House and Senate. Further, the President should request the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader to form a new Special Joint Committee of Congress on Federal Government Reform. Such action would require both majority and minority leadership cooperation and commitment. In the event this does not happen, the President and his Commission should press forward, in hope that Congress will establish such a joint committee. Such a Joint Committee would be a threat to some committee chair’s power, so adept leadership is essential and any Chairperson who is objectionable should likely be placed on the Joint Committee.
So, in 90 days of making the initial decision, we already have:
The Federal Commission on Government Reform, established by Executive Order
The Joint Congressional Committee on Government Reform, established by Congress
The report from the GAO and CRS addressing these critical "academic" questions on programmatic delineations
Now there is no question that these activities will certainly stimulate public and media discussion. But having the report, fixes at least from the initiation of this process, "The Facts" from which we will begin. Keep in mind that the delineations are based on programmatic purpose and function not on agency, nor constituency, nor partisan considerations.
The Federal Commission on Government Reform must operate with competent staff and leadership consistent with the Open Meetings Act. I would suggest that it (the Commission) also function under the watchful eye of C Span and that a complete detailed record of the Commissions considerations be kept in written and digital form. These are historic events and discussions. I’d suggest that if I could go on the Net and buy the full DVD set of the Constitutional Congress as they argued the formation of our Constitution, it would be a best seller – and for decades.
So, what should be the work and accomplishments of the Federal Commission and the Joint Congressional Committee?
The purpose and function of this Commission shall be:
The review of the report by the CRS and GAO on the alignment of all federal programs as within or outside of the enumerated powers, and a clear articulation of any disagreements as to their findings.
Formal action by the Commission to approve, as presented or amended, this report as the formal statement of our government on these programs.
Request by the Commission of the Joint Congressional Committee on Government Reform that they formally concur with the Commission’s findings and actions. Such action may include a minority report.
The prioritization for a review of all federal programs identified by the report that are not clearly within the enumerated powers and the initiation of discussions on where such programs should be placed. In or out?
Once this process is completed, and programs are either placed within or outside of the enumerated powers, a report to that effect be constructed and sent to the Joint Congressional Committee for their consideration and concurrence.
The development of a systematic process by which all federal programs that are now agreed to be outside of the powers of the federal government to states, if (states must be offered an "opt in or opt out" choice)they agree, over a specific period of time and with specific federal block grants to assist states during this transition. Such transitions and grants shall not exceed five (5) years.
The request that Congress, consistent with the recommendations of the Commission and the Joint Congressional Committee, formally repeal all federal laws that in any way enable the function of these programs by the federal government that are clearly outside of the enumerated powers as presented to Congress by the Commission.
The accumulation, with the consent of states, of all "Statehood Compacts" that to any significant degree limit the ability of any state to achieve the same level of economic and political freedom as the first 13 states have enjoyed.
A review of each compact with the Governor or his/her appointed representative on any changes they may desire that further enable their state’s realization of full economic and political equality with the original 13 states.
The presentation to Congress of any new compacts or the repeal of those no longer necessary.
The complete compilation, for a report to the Commission by the CRS and GAO, on the legal status of all lands owned by the federal government, by agency, for what purpose, and under what authorities. This inventory must be organized by state.
The identification of all federal lands that clearly fall within the authority of the Constitution for federal ownership such as those essential for military purposes and boarder security.
The development of a systematic process by which all federal lands not included in the inventory of military and boarder security lands or for those functions or purposes as authorized by the Constitution, be conveyed to states, if they agree, over a specific period of time and with specific federal grants to assist states during this transition. Such transition/conveyances and grants shall not exceed five (5) years.
Conservation units within the federal estate that are conveyed to states, may remain as congressionally titled, even when under state, local, or private management.
A report to the President, the Congress, and the American people on the actions of the Commission to include specific costs per program per state, and the completion of the Commissions responsibilities. Upon publication of this report, the Commission shall be ended.
What have we accomplished?
We have reduced federal spending, with understanding and care – but we have accomplished it.
We have reduced the scope of the federal government by formal conveyance of federal programs, lands, and authorities to states consistent with our Founders plan.
As a result we have also repealed federal laws that create such programs, agencies, authorities, and activities as NOT within the enumerated powers as prescribed by the Constitution.
We have conveyed all federal lands not within the authority of the Constitution to states and provided assistance for this transition to states.
We have eliminated dozens of federal agencies, but not "harmed" the programs or functions they were created to provide as now they are fully within the authority and control of states.
Let’s look at some specific examples of federal programs and what this will mean. Let’s start with the most controversial; the ones most certainly to capture the left as they mobilize to argue against this effort.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
An essential cornerstone of liberalism or as I refer to it federal paternalism, the EPA was created by Congress at the request of President Nixon on the advice of then Secretary of the Interior Walter Hickel, twice governor of Alaska. Why was this done at this time? Because it was needed at the time as some states, local governments, and industries did not shoulder their natural responsibilities to our environment. Infamously rivers in Ohio were catching on fire, raw sewage and industrial wastes were being dumped in rivers and oceans. Critical wetlands were being filled. Pollution created in one state was moving down rivers, across boarders in the air, etc. into neighboring states – causing harm. If you were alive and aware then, you must agree that as a nation we did not have the environmental or conservation ethic we should have had, nor did we understand our environments as we do now.
But this has changed. We have cleaned up the water, the air, and the soil. We have educated our children who have grown to better understand the value of a clean environment, not just in esthetics but also as a component of public health. We have inventoried and come to understand our wetlands, our water bodies, our groundwater and their value to clean water, wildlife, and public health. This was a big job, but we did it.
Can we do more? Yes, but at what cost and under whose authority now? Do we really still need an EPA?
Most are unaware that we now have 50 mini-EPAs. One in each state, and most with "primacy" over the EPA in air and water quality issues. In addition, most are unaware that in many cases states have established higher air and water quality standards than those mandated by Congress and the EPA. But that is the point; we no longer need an EPA. The states and their local governments are now doing this job and doing it rather well because their citizens continue to demand it. Why? Because they live there.
But what about pollution that crosses state or jurisdictional borders? Who will deal with these issues?
Again, this is a function of states coming to an agreement under whatever authorities or mechanisms they decide in the mitigation of cross boarder "harm". And I’m not suggesting the only option is court action or some federal intervention. Most environmental harm is caused by a very localized activity, even non-point source contaminations. If we have learned anything in addressing such issues through governance, it is that the closer we are to the problem in our formulation of a solution, the more responsive and responsible our actions. Joint state commissions, multi-state river compacts that include all involved, etc. These are options that better fit the specifics of a problem to that location and its environs – but not necessitating a "federal" action.
National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, Forests, and Historic Sites
Is it possible for a nationally significant historic, cultural, or ecological site to be responsibly managed by a state?
Let me suggest that it can, and in many cases for decades have. What is a greater national treasure then the home of George Washington? What about Thomas Jefferson’s home? These and many other clearly national treasures have for decades been managed and protected by private groups, let alone states.
Are there any state parks that have nationally significant vistas? What about state wildlife refuges/preserves that have critical wildlife habitat? And what about state forests? Alaska has state forests larger than many states. Yes, there are dozens of such examples. These agencies, at the state level, have the skills and the experience and the commitment to manage such resources, even if under a national "title".
The point is that even with the conveyance, as suggested in this paper, of a National Park or Refuge or Forest to a state’s ownership and management, the designation as a "National" does not need to change. They can and should likely remain as titled and even under the same management plans already developed and approved – but now under state control. There is little question that many of these conservation units are economic resources as well as historic or ecological. It is in the best interest of states to responsibly manage these areas as "of value" to the state.
There is also little question that many of these so called "National" areas truly have no national significance. Dozens of units within the National Park Service for example (the city beaches of NY for example) where added to the agencies inventory for other reasons draining resources of that agency necessary to care for what truly are sites and areas of national significance.
Think for a minute of the people impacted by these federal conveyances to states. The federal workers now assigned to a park, or refuge or historic site, will most likely remain there. Yes there may be some who will want to move to another location within their areas of skills and experience, but that is a workforce that is well trained and even under federal management often mobile. Certainly regional and national employees that may be involved in the management of federal conservation units will see their positions eliminated (overhead reduction), but again with the increase in state management for such areas, there will be a need for them in almost any state. Local worker displacement should be minimal if any.
Do you not think your state can manage these conservation units responsibly? And we have suggested a block grant program (not to exceed 5 years) to assist states in this transition. The construction of such block grants would likely be based on the cost of managing these spaces or facilities as well as programs.
Again, let me say that it was clearly never the intention of our Founders that the federal government should continue to own over a fifth of the land within our borders. It was always their intention, and certainly that of the states, that new lands acquired by the nation be conveyed to the states.
Continued Federal Ownership of Lands and Waters within States
The federal government continues to own over one fifth of the lands of the United States and shows no interest in conveying these lands to states consistent with the clear intentions of our Founders. The "inalienable right to life, liberty, and property" was a recognition of human nature in Europe, prior to the construct of America, during what is referred to as "The Age of Enlightenment". Thomas Jefferson incorporated these concepts into the Declaration and the Constitution and the first Congress made it exceedingly clear that the federal government could only "acquire" and with the consent of the states within which it was located and such acquisitions would be limited to essentially military bases, boarder security (which at the time was a function of the military), and post offices.
Although what is referred to as the Enclave Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 8, clause 17 authorizes Congress to purchase, own and control land within the boundary of a state, it is very specific and clearly limiting as to what type of lands the federal government can own and control within a given state. It also leaves no doubt that the state legislature has to formally relinquish control of those lands. The relevant portion of the Enclave clause reads:
Congress may exercise exclusive legislative "authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;"
The initial federal policy was to transfer ownership of lands acquired by the federal government to private and state ownership. Congress enacted many laws granting lands and authorizing or directing sales or transfers, ultimately disposing of 1.275 billion acres. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 began a reverse process which has accelerated until in 1976 Congress formally declared, regardless of Constitutional limits, that national policy was now to retain all remaining lands in federal ownership as stipulated in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Additionally, under the federal Land and Water Conservation Act, up to $900 million dollars (an income stream provided by off shore drilling) a year are authorized for use in the acquisition of addition lands.
Although the Constitution requires "consent of state legislatures" to acquire any lands within a state, unfortunately most states have passed what is generally referred to as the "general consent provision" allowing without specific state legislative consent, the federal government to "take" land within a state. Every state should repeal these laws immediately, if only to ensure that each state’s legislature is at least aware of and grants permission to any further federal acquisitions. To not do so is an abrogation of the oath of office of state legislators.
Property is the most ancient, the most vital institution, with which man became concerned. Its original function was to secure physical existence. It is a social concept and being a social concept is a creation of law.
Property and law are born together and die together. Before laws were made there was no property and that if the laws were taken away property would cease. If the definition of property is examined and compared from the Anglo-American Jurisprudence and from the Russian Jurisprudence, they reflect contradictory views.
The 5th and 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America says that, "No person shall be deprived of his life, liberty or property, without due process of law". According to this phrase, property, the term in its broader sense, is the right of dominion, possession, and power of dispossession which may be acquired over a physical thing, and not the thing itself.
Property, in a sense, is the projection outside, of a man’s personality. Man is identified by his physical and mental characteristics. And in the image of the person must be included not only his tastes, preferences, but also the objects of personal possession indissolubly associated with him. These things achieve an immorality of their own.
The notion of State economic and political equality with the original 13 states, was advanced some decades past as western states, specifically limited by their statehood compacts/Acts realized that they could never really achieve such "equal" status as the original states with the federal ownership of lands and waters often exceeding over one half of their state. Without the inherent right to make their own decisions on their own "property" to the highest and best use consistent with their public’s consent, in fact limits their economic freedoms as a state and clearly limits their equal standing as a community of citizens. This is directly contrary to the fundamental notions of the "right to property" recognized in the Constitution and its amendments.
- 84.5% federally owned
Of all the states not allowed by compact nor continued federal ownership to fully realize their equal economic and political status, when compared to the original 13 states, Nevada is the classic example. Their state, due to a clear inaction of Congress, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the railroads is a sectional checkerboard of federal, state, railroad and private ownerships. If Nevada is to ever fully realize it’s given or "natural" potential, it must be freed from this nightmare of mixed ownerships and mixed management.
The negotiations between the State of Nevada and the Government Reform Commission on both the full conveyance of federal lands and agency authorities to the state would cause an economic revolution across that state to the benefit of the people of Nevada and to the nation.
Again, most of the current federal employees who deal with such things as grazing permits, and other permissions would not have to leave their homes or jobs. It would be in the best interest of the State of Nevada to assimilate them into their workforce. Now, I’d also suggest that if there is a group or an individual company that has been grazing livestock across these lands for, in some cases three generations, maybe these areas should be sold by the states to such users at fair market value, but that’s up to the state once they have their right of ownership – their natural property.
– 69% federally owned
As a condition of its Statehood Act/Compact, Alaska is not allowed to sell any of its subsurface rights (oil, gas, minerals) covering about 101 million acres. No other state has this limitation as a function of its achieving statehood.
Alaska is the largest state in the United States in land area at 586,412 square miles, which is over twice the size of Texas, the next largest state. Alaska is larger than all but 18 sovereign countries. Counting territorial waters, Alaska is larger than the combined area of the next three largest states: Texas, California, and Montana. It is also larger than the combined area of the 22 smallest U.S. states.
According to an October 1998 report by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), approximately 65% of Alaska is owned and managed by the federal government as public lands, including a multitude of national forests, national parks, and national wildlife refuges. Of these, the BLM manages 87 million acres, or 23.8% of the state. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuges is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It is the world's largest wildlife refuge, comprising 16 million acres.
Of the remaining land area, the state of Alaska owns 101 million acres; its entitlement under the Alaska Statehood Act. A portion of that acreage is occasionally ceded to organized boroughs, under the statutory provisions pertaining to newly formed boroughs. Smaller portions are set aside for rural subdivisions and other homesteading-related opportunities, though these are infrequently popular due to the often remote and roadless locations.
Many federal conservation units in Alaska are larger than many states. The National Petroleum Reserve, established by Congress as a backup for WWII energy needs is now under federal threat of having vast areas placed under "other than development" federal designations. Additionally, vast areas of Alaska remain under federal permitting jurisdiction such as Section 404 of the Army Corps of Engineers, marine mammals under NOAA, ESA, Section 106, and on and on.
Not being allowed to fully develop even those lands "granted" to it (the state), is a significant limitation on Alaska’s ability to fully realize its economic non-dependence – but maybe that’s the idea. It is interesting to remember that one of the overarching issues discussed in Congress during their consideration of Alaskan statehood, was the ability of the new state to care for itself financially.
One of the trends seems to be that as new states were added going west and then north, more and more land was withheld by the federal government.
Utah – 55.4 % federally owned
Oregon – 53.1% federally owned
Idaho – 50.1% federally owned
Arizona -48% federally owned
California – 45.3% federally owned
Wyoming – 42.33% federally owned
New Mexico – 41.7% federally owned
Colorado – 36.6% federally owned
The notion of "equal footing" as expressed in the equal footing doctrine (based on language within Article IV, Section 3, Clause1 of the Constitution), and found in state enabling acts, provides new states with equality to the original states in terms of constitutional rights, but has yet to be used successfully to force the divestment of federal lands to states.
If states are denied ownership of the lands and resources within them to the extent as illustrated in Alaska to Colorado, how can they fully realize their "equality" among states? It is clear that Congress has little appetite to make changes here. If the financial crisis America faces does not enable this to change, it will require a change in the men and women in Congress.
Giving our Members of Congress some help in saying, "No".
Too often we allow ourselves to get so caught up in the policy questions of the day that we forget essential basics. The extraordinary understanding illustrated in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence that makes it truly unique is our Founders substantive knowledge of human and organizational (governance) behaviors. These are the keys to our past and our future as a nation.
Public policy that does not act from such an understanding (human or organizational behavior) will most likely fail. We know this to be true from any study of human and governance history.
That is why Socialism fails, it is not based on this understand of people or their organizations. That is why liberty and free markets succeed, because it takes advantage of these natural behaviors.
Having spent many years working with legislators to include U.S. Senators, a President, Governors etc, one of the most difficult things for them to say is, "No". It is just not in their nature. After all, they exist as Members solely based on the support of voters. It is not human nature to tell someone who needs something that you cannot or will not help them, especially when they are the reason you are in position.
We have thought, especially over the past few years as evidenced by the birth and maturation of the Tea Party and the Conservative movement, that budget limitations would afford our Members the courage to say, "No." But alas that has not been our experience and as a result we as a nation face unrecoverable debt and structural disfigurement. As Chairman Paul Ryan has stated, "We only have three years."
So we must provide our Members with another reason to say, "No." And, we have a very convincing one.
"I’m sorry, that is just not within the Powers of Congress, as provided in the Constitution."
I can see a Member actually saying this and just as easily defending it with anyone. It’s also nice because it is NOT about cost, but authority. People can argue about cost, but authority is most often prescribed. It is clear, unambiguous.
This is an essential point as we move forward in this and every election we engage over the coming decades. This is transformative, based on where we are as a nation. This dramatically limits liberals, because it is a function of authority and not of spending or income.
If all Members of Congress (at least the majority) and their staff clearly understood these limitations and accepted them as a matter of fact, we as a community of citizens can change the direction and cost not only of our Federal government, but also state and local governance. We must stay within the powers authorized.
This does not mean that a national organization of voters cannot change these limitations on governance, they can, but such is not likely unless there is clear national support for such a change. We have done this in the past, and will likely do so again in the future, but this is the construct we need to stay within.
And so we go back to the question of human nature and how we choose to be governed. That is a good place to go back to. That is a good place for our party and our nation to stand.
We must teach our citizens what these limitations are, in fact. That is not hard, but it does require leadership, effort, funding, commitment, and persistence.
We stopped "earmarks" and Members now say, "We cannot do earmarks anymore, sorry those are the rules."
We can also do this.
What has been proposed here is without question controversial even revolutionary, but it is clearly consistent with the original blueprint of our federalist system, a republic of states with clearly limited federal powers, as argued by our Founders and the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Why is it not? If this construct worked, then why not return to it? It is our abandoning of this exceptional crafting of a new governance concept that has pushed the United States into financial trouble and clearly changed the balance of power within our prescribed system of governance. It is time to begin the process of righting this balance and again limiting the scope and cost of our federal government while returning power to our states and citizens.
The Left will claim that this cannot be done. That we have "moved on" from those agrarian days of our founding. That life is far more complicated now, than it was then. That technology has changed us and how we should be governed. In making such arguments they have missed the point of the construction which was clearly based on the collective human experience of governance and its failures since recorded history. These are timeless concepts not notions of a moment in time.
This was not a construct born out of "a collection of interests" but an architectural framework for a new national idea, one based on the revolutionary notion of citizen governance rather than the alleged divine right of kings. This was a totally upside down notion of governance. One based on a republic of states, rather than an all-powerful "federal" or national government. It was an idea of citizens and their states controlling the accumulation of power and its exercise. Again, it was a construct of ideas – not interests.
The Republican National Committee in its 2012 Platform states clearly that we need " substantive and structural change" as a nation. This reference is not just to budgets and financial issues, but also to our governance. The question then is where do we go for a new blueprint? A new plan? That’s just it, we don’t need a "new plan" we need to return to the clearest delineation of our structure as a nation, our Constitution, and that is where we MUST start.
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Mr. President - that is where we start.