fiscal responsibility

NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: The Limited-Government Big Tent

By Michael G. Franc

In February an impressive cross-section of national conservative leaders, including one Kathryn Lopez of NRO fame, released the Mount Vernon Statement. This succinct document eloquently sets forth the tenets of constitutional conservatism. To me, its most significant passage is the one that summarizes how the “natural fusion” provided by America’s founding principles unites the various traditions of modern American conservatism:

[Constitutional conservatism] reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

The Contract From America sets forth a similar case for limited government, arguing: “When our government ventures beyond [those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people] and attempts to increase its power over the marketplace and the economic decisions of individuals, our liberties are diminished and the probability of corruption, internal strife, economic depression, and poverty increases.”

Its policy platform calls on lawmakers to first, do no harm: repeal Obamacare, jettison the regulatory nightmare of cap-and-trade, and reject tax increases of any kind. On the proactive side, the Contract calls on Congress to approve a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a “simple and fair single-rate tax system,” an “all of the above” energy policy that would revive domestic energy production, an end to earmarks, and a hard cap on overall federal spending.

Continue reading at National Review Online

LARRY KUDLOW: “America’s Constitutionalist Revolt”

By Larry Kudlow

So much is being written in the mainstream media about who the tea partiers are, but very little is being recorded about what these folks are actually saying.

We know that this is a decentralized grassroots movement, with many different voices hailing from many different towns across the country. But the tea-party message comes together in the “Contract from America,” the product of an online vote orchestrated by Ryan Hecker, a Houston tea-party activist and national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots.

With nearly 500,000 votes recorded in less than two months, this Contract forms a blueprint of tea-party policy goals and beliefs.

Of the top-ten planks in the Contract, the number-one issue is protect the Constitution. That’s followed by reject cap-and-trade, demand a balanced budget, and enact fundamental tax reform. And then comes number five: Restore fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government in Washington.

Note that two of the top-five priorities of the tea partiers mention the Constitution.

Filling out the Contract, the bottom-five planks are end runaway government spending; defund, repeal, and replace government-run health care; pass an all-of-the-above energy policy; stop the pork; and stop the tax hikes.

What’s so significant to me about this tea-party Contract from America is the strong emphasis on constitutional limits and restraints on legislation, spending, taxing, and government control of the economy. Undoubtedly, the emphasis is there because no one trusts Washington.

As I read this Contract, tea partiers are reminding all of us of the need for the Constitution to protect our freedoms. They’re calling for a renewal of constitutional values, including — first and foremost — a return to constitutional limits on government. The tea partiers who responded to this poll are demanding a rebirth of the consent of the governed. The government works for us, we don’t work for it.

Continue reading at National Review Online

NYT: A Revised Contract for America, Minus ‘With’ and Newt

By Bernie Becker

WASHINGTON — Sixteen years after the Contract With America, say hello to the Contract From America.

On Wednesday, some members of the Tea Party movement released a legislative agenda they want elected officials to follow. The 10 planks of the Contract from America — heavy on fiscal restraint and limited government, light on social issues — were chosen through an online ballot and unveiled the day before a round of Tea Party protests scheduled to be held across the country on April 15, Tax Day.

The contract, to use its own language, asks candidates to agree to: 1) protect the Constitution; 2) reject cap-and-trade regulation of climate-warming gases; 3) demand a balanced budget; 4) enact fundamental tax reform; 5) restore fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government in Washington; 6) end runaway government spending; 7) defund, repeal and replace government-run health care; 8) pass an “all-of-the-above” energy policy (referring, in part, to the exploration of domestic energy reserves); 9) stop the pork; and 10) stop the tax hikes.

The announcement of the list came after a seven-week contest that organizers said attracted more than 450,000 votes.

Continue read at the New York Times

End Runaway Government Spending

Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (Mark Meckler, Sacramento, CA)

SUMMARY

Since 2001, federal spending has grown 51 percent faster than inflation, and now stands at $29,813 per household. President Obama’s budget could push real federal spending above $37,000 per household by the end of this decade. Taxpayers clearly cannot afford to fund this level of spending.

Families and businesses are tightening their belts and capping their spending. Yet Congress is not subject to any statutory spending caps. Entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare grow 7 percent annually on autopilot with no Congressional oversight. Discretionary spending is budgeted annually (at growth rates recently averaging 8 percent), yet Congress bypasses even those minor restraints by declaring any additional spending “emergencies.”

The only way to force lawmakers to set priorities and make trade-offs is to enact a law capping the growth of the federal government to the inflation rate plus population growth (approximately 3.5 percent annually). No more blank checks, no programs on autopilot, all programs competing against each other for tax dollars. Any additional spending should require a 2/3 supermajority vote (which should be reachable during a real emergency). Such a spending cap – starting from the pre-recession 2008 spending levels – could likely balance the budget by 2020 without tax increases. It’s a vital step towards protecting the family budget from the federal budget.

~ Brian Riedl, Heritage Foundation