Granted We Have Problems

Government at all levels is dysfunctional and James L. Buckley in ‘Saving Congress from Itself‘ may have hit upon a critical first step toward regeneration.


Bruce Paterson made a pertinent point at the last Union County freeholder meeting about the deleterious effect of grants on local governance:
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While in response to the Central States pension decision last week Teamsters representative John Murphy was quoted as saying:

The MPRA was a horrible piece of legislation that would have never passed through Congress on its own merits. It passed in the eleventh hour as a self-executing amendment to a spending bill that had to go through. In the short term, we intend to continue to push through legislative remedies that will fix the negative aspects of the MPRA while fighting to repeal the law in the long term.

Mr. Murphy is right.  MPRA is a bad law that was pushed through by special interests for their own benefit without adequate consideration of consequences or alternatives.  Congress failed to do its job as legislators were preoccupied with dictating to other levels of government.

Which brings us to Mr. Buckley’s book and these excerpts from the Introduction that make the connection:

The United States faces two major problems today:  runaway spending that threatens to bankrupt us and a Congress that appears unable to deal with long-term problems of any consequence. A significant source of each is a category of federal expenditures that has somehow escaped the notice it deserves. I refer to federal grants to state and local governments that have soared from $24.1 billion in 1970 to an estimated $640.8 billion in 2015. Grants-in-aid programs now absorb major portions of congressional time, thereby diverting Congress form its core national responsibilities, and they expend extraordinary amounts of money on objectives that are the constitutional concerns of the states. They also come freighted with detailed federal directives that deprive state and local officials of the ability to meet their own responsibilities in their own ways and undermine their citizens’ ability to ensure that their taxes will be used to meet local priorities rather than those of distant bureaucracies. (page XI)

The use of federal money triggers a host of mandates (such as the obligation to pay union wage scales on construction work financed with federal dollars) that can add substantially to what a state would spend on a particular project if it were only using its own money. (page XII)

Had my senator asked me, I would have told him that my greatest worry was over the future the little girl seated across the aisle from us will face if Congress fails to screw up the courage to address our deficits and the runaway costs of our entitlement programs. In time she and her playmates will be faced with economy-crushing levels of taxation and/or savings-destroying rates of inflation if Congress fails to act. This is the sort of problem my senator and his colleagues in Washington should be concentrating on, not matters like bus schedules that governors and mayors are far better able to address. (pages XIV-XV)

Congress’s current dysfunction is rooted in its assumption, over the years, of more responsibilities than it can handle. As a result, its members now live a treadmill existence that no longer allows them time to study, learn, and think things through. Instead, they substitute political reflex for thought. To compound the problem, their eyes are now so fixed on their particular political bases that they hesitate to make the compromises that the legislative process requires, and to ensure reelection, they avoid coming to grips with divisive issues whenever they can. When members of Congress do manage to enact a complex piece of legislation, they no longer have the time or patience to attend to all the minutiae that responsible legislation requires. Instead, they pass the messy details along to federal agencies, which spin out the regulators that will give the law shape. So no one, including those who drafted those laws, really knows how their handiwork will affect the real world until the regulations have been issued and put into effect. (page XVI)

As radical as it may at first appear, my modest proposal, namely the eradication of all federal grants to state and local governments, requires no more than that members of Congress honor the principle of federalism that is embedded in the Constitution they are pledged to defend. (page XVI)

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Eric on May 15, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Congress, if it members were “freed up” to read and to learn, the additional time would not be expended upon the laws being enacted. Most members are merely political “whores” and not students of reason, fairness and honesty, and simply have absolutely no integrity. They still would be directed how to vote, and would not read one bill. They would consume their time by “chasing” underage interns for sexual favors. So long as they voted the establishments’ wishes, they would be left alone.
    I do miss Ron Paul. He had my vote over Romney and Obama.
    If Hillary were to win, the death of the nation would be complete. The ruling elite, for whom the laws do not apply, would direct her to implement their plans of world domination through endless wars, and the destruction of the middle class. Big Pharma and Wall Street have already paid her. She refuses to release her speeches to Wall Street which were a quarter of a million dollars per speech. A “victory” in November would simply be time to collect what has already been purchased. The continuation of the Unaffordable Care Act, written by Big Pharma, more Wall Street bailouts to protect the 1%, and perhaps a world war with Russia, by constantly conducting military exercises on her border, along with installing missile defense systems to provoke a “hair trigger” response in a crisis. Gotta support those military contracts.
    How would the US like Russia to conduct military exercises in the Gulf of Mexico?
    JFK responded to the missile bases in Cuba. Why would Putin not seek to defend his country as well? Is he not allowed? He is an enemy of the establishment since he wants Russia to be autonomous. That is a big no no.
    As to the youth of today, they are young enough to leave the crumbling Roman Empire, or they can remain to greet the barbarians at the gate as their liberators.
    At least they are smart enough to support Bernie. He opposes the treaties, drafted by large corporations, and Hillary, that continue to impose outsourcing of jobs and slave wages to those who remain. Paper or plastic mam? Yes, I have a college degree mam. Have a nice day.
    Thank god I am an old man.
    Eric

    Reply

    • Posted by Rex the Wonder Dog! on May 16, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Congress, if it members were “freed up” to read and to learn, the additional time would not be expended upon the laws being enacted. Most members are merely political “whores” and not students of reason, fairness and honesty, and simply have absolutely no integrity. They still would be directed how to vote, and would not read one bill. They would consume their time by “chasing” underage interns for sexual favors. So long as they voted the establishments’ wishes, they would be left alone.
      So true. Big Business OWNS the Congress, much as Pubic Unions now own our state legislatures. $$$ rules the day, and the elected chumps care more about their OWN re-election than for the general welfare of society as a whole.

      Reply

      • Posted by lFor fairness on May 17, 2016 at 2:46 pm

        Baloney. The state unions are as powerless as everyone else. Corporations and wall Street banks and millionaires own New Jersey, not unions. Wake Up. This is more propaganda. Raise the top tax bracket to ^0% federally and there will be plenty of jobs and a middle class rebirth as the infrastructure is rebuilt. when did the middle class start to disappear ? After the Regan and Bush tax cuts that benefited the top brackets. Now government can’t afford to fix problems and money is only spent on wars.

        Reply

  2. Posted by skip3house on May 15, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    per POTUS at Rutgers …Get Informed. Logic, Reason, Facts, Evidence, Truth “Take ’em on ” Be Involved…. VOTE…….

    Reply

    • Posted by dentss dunnigan on May 16, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Yeah, we fooled a few people …..”you can keep your insurance ……..”

      Reply

      • Posted by skip3house on May 16, 2016 at 10:46 am

        Not supporting any now. Even ‘W’ Rx plan did not allow Medicare to bargain prices. We need a full Medicare plan for all, maybe based on age, buy in, ?
        POTUS had the right phrases at Rutgers, now we need to use them to hold politicians in check.

        Reply

        • Posted by Rex the Wonder Dog! on May 16, 2016 at 1:23 pm

          Even ‘W’ Rx plan did not allow Medicare to bargain prices. Excellent example. On the national level Corporations control America, just look st Big Pharma by way of example, while other nations set wholesale drug prices, the law prohibits the U.S. government from bargaining under Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate lower drug prices. This was part of the FRAUD/SCAM Big Pharma extracted (was GIFTED by the Congress for $$$) for its support of the Affordable Care Act of 2010….basically ALL Fortune 100 companies/Big Business is in general are buying off Congress; the Public Unions learned and are doing this on the local and state level so they too can become a protected and enriched class, at the expense of everyone else. .

          Reply

  3. Posted by lFor fairness on May 17, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Except Public unions aren’t buying off anyboldy. That is the propaganda those corporations want you to believe so they can keep you fighting against fellow middle class people instead of fighting them.

    Reply

  4. […] grants have played a major role in accelerating tax increases according to James L. Buckley yet  elected officials selected to keep the tax spigot wide open don’t get the connection: […]

    Reply

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