Reduce the reach of the government



Guest Columnist Vern Wensche speaks about returning the federal power to the states and back to the local people.

Vern Wuensche, Guest Columnist

Editor’s Note: Vern Wuensche has been active in Republican politics for 50  years and has written commentary published in Texas and elsewhere for a decade. He is a small town Texas farmboy with an MBA and CPA who is a businessman, a Christian, a veteran and an early marathoner who ran for President in 2008 and 2012.

All true conservatives believe that our government should be downsized. Our Founders intended for the federal government to be small, handling national security, finances and a few other functions—not the octopus of today with 450 departments and 2.2 million employees. They designed it to include three balanced bodies with laws strongly and properly enforced. Not the questionable and often unenforceable 185,984 pages of regulations in the Federal Register today with an out-of-control Justice Department.

 A great start in this downsizing would be to enforce our Constitution’s Tenth Amendment by shifting most federal government functions to the individual states. It reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Founders intended each state to be a laboratory of democracy with its recognized best practices to be copied by other states. They knew that governing by individual state officials would be superior as they were closer to the people.

To implement the Tenth Amendment, Congress should sunset some departments, eliminate others and return many necessary functions to the states. A good first candidate for elimination would be the Department of Education. The $74 billion Department of Education budget should be distributed to the fifty states to use as each saw fit.

 An additional downsizing tool would be to allow an incoming president to fire 10 or more percent of nonsecurity, nonmilitary government personnel. In doing, so he or she would be afforded more control and would be more properly accountable to the public for the decisions made and their implementation. An added benefit is that this legislation would improve the efficiency of all government employees as each of their jobs would be at risk each day. The same as the employee of any business.

  A further major step would be to pass term limits on those in Congress. Seventy percent of all Americans support them. Passing a bill on this would over time shrink government as these elected officials would know that they would shortly live living under any unnecessary laws they passed. And would hear about it from their friends and neighbors.

  Focusing on fraudulent government spending would also help. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that $43 billion of the $862 billion amount spent by Medicare is fraudulent. To solve this problem private businesses should be engaged in locating fraud and be given a fair percentage of what they recover. The remaining portion should be returned to the American people as a direct payment or a tax cut. Fraud would be reduced automatically as crooks would know that an active free enterprise system—not a passive uncaring government—would be after them. And rewarding taxpayers would guarantee its continual implementation.

  Furthermore, as a condition of holding office, a senator or representative should be forbidden to do any lobbying after leaving office. Since today the Hatch Act prevents current officeholders from personally benefiting while working for the government, why should they be allowed to set themselves up to benefit after they leave? The negative effect on the public is generally the same.

  Many might consider any idea mentioned above to be pie in the sky because of the entrenched interests of Congress, unions, government workers and lobbyists, etc. Yet our last president began the process by insisting that for every new regulation passed, two must be eliminated. Ten for one would be better. And a number of the ideas mentioned could be tested on a smaller scale and adjusted and improved as necessary, a process employed by businesses every day.

  Just as an aircraft carrier changing its direction one degree can end up in a much different place far away, beginning to change our process with an unbending disciplined approach can do the same. Pressure should be applied to those in power. Let’s start now!