- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Do we want statist or a constitutionalist government? That is the question that confronts American politics today. What is the difference between them? A constitutionalist wants the limited government that lives by the checks and balances in our Constitution. A statist believes that our Constitution is a “living document” and it can be used to justify the creation of any government program imaginable. Here is an explanation of how we now have a statist government and how we can bring back the constitutional government we once had.

A statist’s hero is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A constitutionalist’s hero is James Madison. Both men were presidents of the United States. One wrote most of our Constitution. The other threw it away. How did FDR throw away our Constitution? He did so when he changed the meaning, the understanding of an important phrase in our Constitution. This phrase can be found twice in our Constitution. The first time is in the preamble but the most important timeis in Article I Section 8 of our Constitution. It is in Article I Section 8 that the enumerated powers of our government are found. What are those two words? They are the words “general Welfare.” FDR with the creation of the New Deal changed the meaning of the “general Welfare” from what James Madison meant to what FDR wanted them to mean. When FDR did that, he threw our Constitution away. Here is what Madison had to say about what the phrase general welfare means when he wrote Article I Section 8 of our Constitution:

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions.”

The New Deal gave Congress the discretionary power to promote the general welfare by spending as much money as it wanted to on whatever Congress wanted to spend money on. According to the man who wrote Article I Section 8 of our Constitution, that is not limited government. Who should we listen to when it comes to what our government can and cannot do, James Madison or FDR?

This is what FDR believed about our Constitution:

“The United States Constitution has proved itself the most marvelously elastic compilation of rules of government ever written.”

A statist will harken to FDR, the man who threw away our Constitution with his New Deal. A constitutionalist will affirm James Madison, the man who wrote much of our Constitution. Constitutionalists are firmly committed to James Madison’s understanding of the words “general welfare.” The limited government that we had from when our Constitution was ratified up to the days of the New Deal made the United States the great country it is. Even after some 70 years of New Deal statism, the strength of the blueprint for limited government is still working. However, with the very strong possibility of a new, New Deal being enacted, our Constitution might not survive. The idea that the cause of our problems, the New Deal, will also be the cure for our problems is extremely doubtful.

What, then, would cure the problems facing our country and how can the cure be brought about? First, we need to change how our political campaigns are financed. Second, we should repeal as many laws as we possibly can. Implementing these two changes will be difficult.

In our elections we do not, in theory, allow anyone to vote who is not a registered voter in that district. Why, then, do we allow anyone who is not a registered voter in that district vote for candidates with a financial contribution? If candidates were only able to take financial contributions from registered voters in their district, it would have several positive effects on our political campaigns:

c It would make our elected officials more accountable to the voters in their district.

c It would reduce the amount of money spent on political campaigns.

c It would require candidates to spend more time in their district.

c It would encourage people who had lived a long time in the district to run for office.

Why would this happen? When candidates can only get money from their friends and neighbors, people they have known, people they see and do business, with they are less likely to be dishonest. When the money comes from a smaller area, the amount that can be raised is smaller. When the candidates can only raise money in their district, they have to spend more time there. When the candidates are longtime residents of the district, they know the district better.

The first law that should be repealed is one that few people have ever heard of but one that affects them every payday. What is this law and how does it affect every working American? It is the 1943 Current Payment Tax Act (CPTA). It allows our government to deduct taxes from our paychecks. What that does is make it so that our taxes get paid before we do. Why should our taxes get paid before we do? When our taxes are paid before we are, then the growth of our government goes unnoticed. That is the statist’s dream - an unnoticed and unaccountable flow of money into an ever-growing government.

A constitutionalist thinks that the unnoticed, unaccountable flow of money into an ever-growing government is a nightmare. To start to bring back the constitutional government that Madison created requires the repeal of the 1943 CPTA. Its repeal will be fought by the statists in our government. That is why it must be done. The repeal of the 1943 CPTA will tell Congress that the money we earn is ours, not our government’s. When we pay our taxes, rather than having them confiscated from us, we begin to control our government. Our Constitution was written so that we control our government. The repeal of the 1943 CPTA will return the control of our government to whom it belongs, “We the People of the United States.”

Bryan Bjornson is president of the A1S8 Society, which advocates the return to smaller government.

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