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Public Statements

Issue Position: Debt

Issue Position

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Our ever-increasing national debt is negatively impacting our society, burdening our children, and creating a concern for our national security. We need to make drastic cuts in our national spending, and we need to do so now!

We need to immediately stop spending more than the federal government takes in each year in revenue, and actually spend significantly less in order to pay-off the current national debt. Such fiscal responsibility can realistically be achieved by implementing the following approach:

(1) Eliminate all unconstitutional and unnecessary federal bureaucracy, such as the Department of Education, federal level welfare programs, etc.;

(2) Drastically reduce and closely monitor spending in all areas of the budget;

(3) Eliminate all earmarks and multi-subject bills--each bill should only have a single topic, and the only funding approved in such bill should be for that specific bill; and

(4) Eliminate the Federal Reserve as an entity independent of the federal government, and put it under the direct control of our federal government as a true federal agency regulated and controlled by the federal government instead of a private venture.

Background

When the Congressional Budget Office closed out the 2011 fiscal year on September 30, it estimated that our federal government once again over-spent its budget by $1.299 trillion dollars. 2011 was the third consecutive year that our federal government has over-spent its budget in excess of a trillion dollars ($1.294 trillion in 2010, and $1.4 trillion in 2009). All told, in the last three years our federal government has spent almost $4.0 trillion dollars more than it earned in revenue, significantly adding to an already large debt. (http://www.cbo.gov; http://www.treasury.gov/Pages/default.aspx)

Unless some drastic changes are made, the federal government is projected to have a $1.316 trillion dollar deficit in 2012 (and historically the actual dollars spent by the federal government consistently exceed preliminary projections).

Our country's debt as a whole did not exceed four trillion dollars until September 30, 1992. However, our current administration (Congress and the President) nearly equaled that four trillion debt in a mere three-year period from 2009 through 2011. (http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo4.htm)

The recent annual shortfalls have increased our total national debt to more than $15 trillion dollars (and this figure does not even include the trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities for which Congress has already obligated us to pay, or the trillions of dollars lost from the federal reserve as shown by a partial audit for which we are also obligated to pay).

Spend Less than We Make

Our nation is currently on a reckless path of irresponsible spending that would not be permitted by any responsible household or business venture, and should not be tolerated by our federal government.

The simple concept of not spending more than you make has been lost on generations of politicians in Washington who seem to adhere to the fallacy that I must still have money if I still have checks. Politicians have completely lost touch with reality and are ignoring the consequences of spending more money than they have available to spend, and it is the everyday citizens like you and me, and in particular our children, who will have to pay the consequences of such reckless spending.

In light of our already staggering national debt, reducing the amount of each current yearly deficit, or even balancing current year budgets, is simply not enough. The federal government has to immediately spend significantly less than it receives in revenue each year in order to have the funds available to pay-down, and eventually pay-off, our existing national debt.

It is indeed possible for Washington to spend less than it makes. Truthfully, some difficult decisions are going to have to be made in order to do so. Politicians have consistently lacked the desire and/or courage to make such tough decisions. However, if we fail to make those tough decisions now, catastrophic consequences for our nation as a whole are inevitable in the very near future.

Mere rhetoric and endless discussion of the need to reduce federal spending will not reduce our national debt--we need action, not more discussion. Calls for reform will never cure our national debt, and are a poor substitute for the necessary medicine of actual elimination of federal programs, agencies and spending.

I will flatly refuse to vote to raise the debt ceiling by a single dollar, but rather I will work to actually reduce the debt ceiling in conjunction with reducing, and eventually eliminating, our national debt.

For purposes of implementing a realistic and meaningful plan to reduce spending, the three major categories of the federal budget must each be analyzed: mandatory spending; discretionary spending; and interest payments.

Mandatory spending is not truly mandatory as politicians would like you to believe, but rather simply consists of spending that automatically continues each year without Congress having to approve it. We can indeed make substantial cuts in mandatory spending.

Discretionary spending is funding that Congress must re-appropriate each year. Discretionary spending accounts for more than 35% of our annual budget as a country, and is projected to be $1.043 trillion dollars in 2012. We can indeed make substantial cuts in discretionary spending.

As long as we have a national debt, we have no choice but to pay interest thereon. The only way to reduce, and eventually eliminate, interest payments is to pay-down, and eventually pay-off, our national debt. In 2011, our country paid more than $450 billion dollars in interest, accounting for approximately one-third of the overall 2011 deficit. The irony is that we are going further into debt in order to make the interest payments on our national debt, continuing the vicious cycle of destruction.

Eliminate All Unconstitutional and Unnecessary Federal Bureaucracy

If you drop a live frog into a pot of boiling water, the frog will immediately attempt to jump out in order to save its life. However, if you put a live frog into a pot of tepid water, and gradually turn up the heat by small degrees, the frog will sit in the pot even when the water starts boiling, and the frog will die.

Our Founding Fathers would be horrified by the magnitude of today's federal bureaucracy and spending, and similar to a frog being dropped into a pot of boiling water our Founding Fathers would immediately attempt to jump out of the boiling federal bureaucracy and programs. However, the citizens of this nation have been placed in a pot of tepid water, and gradually over time federal bureaucracy and programs have been incrementally added; although at times the increased heat may make us feel uncomfortable, we find it bearable without understanding the ultimate impact it will have in boiling and killing our nation.

There is simply no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to meddle in such things as education, the environment, energy and/or social welfare (which matters should be left to the individual states as mandated by the Constitution).

Commerce Clause: The Commerce Clause found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution reads: "The Congress shall have Power . . . To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." Because each of the states within the union are independent sovereign states, it was necessary to grant the federal government the power to regulate commerce among the several states so that states did not impose fees and tariffs on goods imported into a state from a neighboring state. The Founding Fathers never intended that this clause empower the federal government to regulate commercial activities occurring solely within a particular state (such as the education of the citizens of that state, or the production of wheat on a farm located in a single state for personal consumption by the owner of that farm within the state).

Necessary and Proper Clause: The Necessary and Proper Clause found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 of the Constitution reads: "The Congress shall have Power . . . To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." Accordingly, unlike the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause is not an independent source of power or authority for the federal government, but rather is only a clarification that Congress can make laws necessary and proper to execute a particular power of the federal government specifically enumerated elsewhere within the Constitution.

General Welfare Clause:

The Preamble to the Constitution makes reference to promotion of "the general Welfare." The United States Supreme Court has even acknowledged: "Although the Preamble indicates the general purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution, it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government of the Unites States or on any of its Departments." Jacobsen v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 22 (1905).

Whenever the "General Welfare Clause" is relied upon, reference is actually being made to what is more commonly known as the Taxing and Spending Clause found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution, which reads: "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the Common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States."

In his 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, the revered United States Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story concluded that (similar to the Necessary and Proper Clause) the General Welfare Clause is not an independent grant of power, but rather is merely a qualification on the taxing and spending power expressly granted to the federal government in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 (set forth above). The United States Supreme Court has officially adopted Justice Story's interpretation as being the correct interpretation of the General Welfare Clause. United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1, 65 (1936).

This interpretation of the General Welfare Clause is consistent with Thomas Jefferson's explanation that "the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They [Congress] are no to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose." (Boyd, Julian P., ed. (1950), The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 19. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 285. http://www.princeton.edu/~tjpapers/index.html.) Notably, Jefferson was concerned with the "welfare of the Union" in matters such as national defense, not the welfare of individual citizens.

This interpretation of the General Welfare Clause is also consistent with statements made in 1824 by John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court: "Congress is authorized to lay and collect taxes, &c. to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States. . . . Congress is not empowered to tax for those purposes which are within the exclusive province of the States." Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1, 199 (1824).

Congress has grossly exceeded the actual power and authority granted to it by the Constitution, and has through tortured interpretations and misapplications of the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the General Welfare Clause, excessive, unnecessary, and unconstitutional federal bureaucracy and programs have been allowed to proliferate unchecked.

Not only has Congress created unconstitutional departments, agencies and programs, but Congress has put much of the funding for such matters on auto-pilot under the guise of "mandatory spending" (again, meaning that the funding for such matters is automatically provided in each year's annual budget with little or no discussion or review). Various laws commit the federal government to pay for various welfare programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc. Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security collectively account for approximately 70% of all mandatory spending.

We need to eliminate all social welfare programs at the federal level, and allow the states to handle the welfare of their respective citizens as contemplated by our Founding Fathers in framing the Constitution, and expressly setting forth the specific powers of the federal government, with all other powers reserved to the individual states.

Millions of Americans have already paid into the Social Security system, and it would be manifestly unjust to cut those individuals off from any future benefits. However, such injustice does not warrant the open-ended continuation of this unconstitutional program either. Difficult decisions have to be made, and some method of transitioning from the federal Social Security system has to be immediately implemented whereby people who have paid into Social Security over an extended period of time will still receive some benefit therefrom, but the program itself is actually discontinued on a federal level.

Each and every federal department, agency and program must be evaluated to see (1) if it is even constitutionally permitted at the federal level, and (2) even if constitutionally permitted, (a) is it still a good idea, and (b) can it be done more efficiently and economically.

At a bare minimum, the Departments of Education and Energy, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, should be completely eliminated from the federal government, with some components of the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency being absorbed into the Department of Defense to the extent there are matters that affect our national security.

Drastically Reduce and Closely Monitor Spending in All Areas of the Budget

At least annually, each and every federal department, agency and program must justify its existence and the budget required for its operation, including a comprehensive accounting for all monies spent in the previous year.

While it will always be necessary for the federal government to raise revenue through taxes, and spend such revenue for welfare of the United States as a whole, efficiencies should be actively sought out and rewarded.

Eliminate all Earmarks and Multi-Subject Bills

Each bill should only have a single topic. It is very common to throw completely unrelated matters into the same bill so that one can piggyback on the other. Each matter must stand or fall on its own merits.

Similarly, funding within a bill should relate specifically and solely to the single subject of the bill. Again, each funding request must stand or fall on its own merits.

Within the bills enacted by Congress, the subject matter thereof should be set forth in an orderly and comprehensive manner so that Senators and Representatives know and understand what they are actually enacting. Instead of enacting readable bills, Congress has been enacting incomprehensible books (and Senators and Representatives are being told how to vote without actually understanding the bills on which they are voting).

For example, what is known as "Obamacare" consists of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, along with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. The actual bills for these two Acts totaled 2,471 pages. Admittedly, bills have wide margins and are double-spaced. However, the printed statutes resulting from these two Acts still total 961 pages. Additionally, the Acts themselves are so vague and ambiguous that they require 1,093 pages of regulations. However, the actual number of pages is misleadingly low--unlike the printed statutes, the regulations are printed in very small print with three columns to a single page. While the statutes themselves consist of 425,116 words, the regulations consist of 1,147,271 words (270% more than the actual statutes), for a total of 1,572,397 words. (http://obamacarewatcher.org/articles/172) For comparison purposes, there are 783,137 words in the King James Bible (less than half of that of Obamacare), and it takes 70 hours to read the Bible out-loud. (http://agards-bible-timeline.com/q10_bible-facts.html) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy has only about 560,000 words, and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo has only about 513,000 words (a third of that of Obamacare). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_longest_novels#cite_note-13) How many Senators and Representatives have actually read and really understand everything in Obamacare?

Eliminate the Federal Reserve as an Entity Independent of the Federal Government

Reigning in the Federal Reserve is an absolute necessity if we are to ever control our burgeoning national debt. Surprisingly, the Federal Reserve is currently not even a true federal department or agency, but rather it is an independent entity that has a dramatic (and often negative) impact on our economy. We need to enact laws that bring the Federal Reserve squarely within the control of Congress, and make the Federal Reserve directly accountable to Congress.

In July 2011, the U.S. Government Accountability Office prepared a report to Congress regarding operations of the Federal Reserve from August 2010 through July 2011 that is available on-line at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11696.pdf. In that report, the following explanation is given of the Federal Reserve Act, which was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on December 23, 1913.

"The Federal Reserve Act made the Federal Reserve System an independent, decentralized bank . . . . The Federal Reserve System consists of the Federal Reserve Board located in Washington, D.C.; 12 Reserve Banks, which have 24 branches located throughout the nation; and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which is composed of the Board of Governors, as well as five Reserve Bank presidents, serving on a rotating basis. . . . Although the Federal Reserve Board is required to report to Congress on its activities, its decisions do not have to be approved by either the President or Congress. Unlike the Federal Reserve Board, the Reserve Banks are not federal agencies. Each Reserve Bank is a federally chartered corporation with a board of directors. . . . Federal Reserve System revenues contribute to total U.S. revenues, and deductions from System revenues thus represent an indirect cost to U.S. taxpayers."

In other words, while loosely labeled as a federal agency, the Federal Reserve Board is not accountable to the federal government and acts independently without the need for approval of its decisions and actions by either the President or Congress. The actual 12 Federal Reserve Banks do not even pretend to be federal agencies, but rather act completely independent of the federal government under the direct of each bank's own board of directors. Nevertheless, losses from the Federal Reserve System are passed on to U.S. taxpayers (even though such losses are not currently being included in the current calculations of our national debt, meaning our national debt is substantially larger than even being reported). Independent entities, such as the Federal Reserve Banks, should not be permitted to unilaterally distribute taxpayers' dollars without the consent or control of the federal government.

Some of the more notable aspects of the partial audit of the Federal Reserve for a single operating year have been summarized on the website for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont as follows (http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=9e2a4ea8-6e73-4be2-a753-62060dcbb3c3).

""As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world,' said Sanders. "This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you're-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.'

Among the investigation's key findings is that the Fed unilaterally provided trillions of dollars in financial assistance to foreign banks and corporations from South Korea to Scotland, according to the GAO report. "No agency of the United States government should be allowed to bailout a foreign bank or corporation without the direct approval of Congress and the president,' Sanders said.

The non-partisan, investigative arm of Congress also determined that the Fed lacks a comprehensive system to deal with conflicts of interest, despite the serious potential for abuse. In fact, according to the report, the Fed provided conflict of interest waivers to employees and private contractors so they could keep investments in the same financial institutions and corporations that were given emergency loans.

For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed's board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. Moreover, JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed's emergency lending programs.

In another disturbing finding, the GAO said that on Sept. 19, 2008, William Dudley, who is now the New York Fed president, was granted a waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General Electric at the same time AIG and GE were given bailout funds. One reason the Fed did not make Dudley sell his holdings, according to the audit, was that it might have created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

To Sanders, the conclusion is simple. "No one who works for a firm receiving direct financial assistance from the Fed should be allowed to sit on the Fed's board of directors or be employed by the Fed,' he said.

The investigation also revealed that the Fed outsourced most of its emergency lending programs to private contractors, many of which also were recipients of extremely low-interest and then-secret loans.

The Fed outsourced virtually all of the operations of their emergency lending programs to private contractors like JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. The same firms also received trillions of dollars in Fed loans at near-zero interest rates. Altogether some two-thirds of the contracts that the Fed awarded to manage its emergency lending programs were no-bid contracts. Morgan Stanley was given the largest no-bid contract worth $108.4 million to help manage the Fed bailout of AIG.

Private bankers should not be permitted to continue lining their own pockets at taxpayers' expense. Immediate and dramatic changes need to be made to the Federal Reserve System to actually bring it under the control of, and make it truly accountable to, the federal government.

Warnings About Debt From Our Founding Fathers

Our founding fathers warned us about going into debt as a nation, but we have simply ignored their sage advice.

"There are two ways to enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt."
--John Adams

"Think what you do when you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty."
--Benjamin Franklin

"No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable."
--George Washington

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

"The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife."
--Thomas Jefferson

"Allow a government to decline paying its debts and you overthrow all public morality--you unhinge all the principles that preserve the limits of free constitutions. Nothing can more affect national prosperity than a constant and systematic attention to extinguish the present debt and to avoid as much as possibly the incurring of any new debt." --Alexander Hamilton

"If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper, Nov 29, 1802

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay it's own debts as it goes. A principle which, if acted on, would save one half the wars of the world; and justifies I think our present circumspection." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to A.O.V.O. Destutt De Tracy, Dec 26, 1820

"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Shelton Gilliam, June 19, 1808

"To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion [extravagance of expenditures] and servitude." --Thomas Jefferson

"There have existed nations, and civilized and learned nations, who have thought that a father had a right to sell his child as a slave, in perpetuity; that he could alienate his body and industry conjointly, and à fortiori (argument) his industry separately; and consume its fruits himself. . . . But we, this age, and in this country especially, are advanced beyond those notions of natural law. We acknowledge that our children are born free; that that freedom is the gift of nature, and not of him who begot them; that though under our care during infancy, and therefore of necessity, under a duly tempered authority, that care is confided to us to be exercised for the good of the child only; and his labors during youth are given as a retribution for the charges of infancy. . . . [W]e shall all consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay them ourselves: and consequently within what may be deemed the period of a generation, or the life [expectancy] of the majority." --Thomas Jefferson

"To preserve independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses, and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes, have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account, but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers."
--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1816


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