With the re-election of Barack Obama, America started a new era—an era in which those of us who still believe in the principles of the Founding Fathers are not just a minority, we are “radicals.” Concepts such as limited government, low taxation, personal responsibility, individual liberty, free-market economics, and constitutional integrity—the principles upon which America was founded—are now considered radical concepts, and those who still believe in them have replaced Marxists and social deviants as the “radicals” in contemporary American society.
If being committed to restoring America’s founding principles makes conservatives radical then we should make the most of it by striving to be effective radicals. It was to this end that my colleague, Archie Jones, and I wrote our new book, Rules for Conservative Radicals (available at www.patriotdepot.com). This column provides an introduction to the first rule in our book: Commit to the concept of limited government and work tirelessly to re-establish this principle. To return America to the limited government set forth in the Constitution will require that we take an ax to the federal budget.
When conservatives use the term “big government,” they mean unlimited government—government that has grown too big and is prone to grow even bigger. When they use the term “small government” they mean government that operates within the specified limits of the Constitution. In other words, they mean limited government. The limits established by the drafters are enumerated in the various articles that make up the Constitution and are clarified by the Bill of Rights, especially the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. The federal government is allowed to do certain enumerated things and is not allowed to do what is not specifically delegated to it by the Constitution. Some powers are forbidden to state governments by the Constitution. The rest of the powers—by far the most powers—are reserved to the states. The federal government that exists today has so far exceeded its enumerated powers as to not even resemble the government set forth in the Constitution.
The federal government is too big because it has grown beyond the scope of its Constitutional boundaries. What was intended by the founders to be a limited federal government that carried out specific enumerated duties has, over time, become an unlimited monstrosity that exceeds its enumerated duties and any reasonable interpretation of the duties that were not enumerated. Minor cuts to entitlement programs and minimal economic adjustments will no longer suffice. Americans must demand a majoring restructuring of the federal government and a downsizing of the public’s expectations of government. What follows are the authors’ recommendations for “taking an ax” to the federal budget.
We recommend elimination of the following extra-constitutional federal departments: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Labor, and the Department of Transportation. In addition to eliminating these federal departments, the following miscellaneous cuts are recommended: reduce civilian government employee compensation by 10 percent, cut foreign aid by 50 percent, privatize the Army Corps of Engineers, repeal the Davis-Bacon Labor rules, end all EPA state and local grants, end foreign military financing, end all subsidies for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, end all subsidies for the Corporation for Community Service, privatize TSA, and eliminate the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation.
The sum of the various budget reductions recommended here will result in a savings to American taxpayers of approximately $ 1 trillion annually. By making the recommended budget reductions—and only by doing so—can America return to the limited government described in the Constitution. Making the kinds of changes recommended in this strategy will require courage, perseverance, and determination on the part of America’s elected officials, things that are typically in short supply inside the beltway. Consequently, conservative “radicals” must be prepared to do what is necessary to elect people with steel in their spines instead of steal in their hearts.