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Guest Dispatch: “A Republic if we can keep it”

By Guillermo Vallejo

Get the bottles of champagne ready to go.  A debt deal “solution” was finally reached.  Hopefully, you see through the media hype and realize this solution was no solution at all.  For weeks we heard most pundits appeal to bipartisanship, civility and pragmatism.  Our political leaders claim that they have reached a historic compromise.

In reality, they have once again kicked the can down the road.  It seems few people have the courage to address the real issue confronting our nation: the federal government’s out of control growth.  It’s the elephant in the room.  Our government sorely needs to go to rehab, but no one wants to do an intervention.

A nation’s debt limit can’t be called a “ceiling” if it can be raised whenever we spend beyond our means.  Yes, we did get a much needed $2.1 trillion in spending cuts.  Unfortunately, those cuts are to take effect over the next decade.  To make matters worse, the federal government gets an immediate $400 billion to spend.  I find it amusing to see how liberals in the media are portraying this deal as a defeat for the President and Democrats.

If this is their loss who won?  It’s certainly not those us who believe in limited government.  Cutting spending while at the same time giving the government more money with which to borrow is akin to a parent chastising his son for blowing his allowance and afterwards giving him some extra cash.  You’re sending mixed signals.

Maybe the solution to our economic troubles can be found by looking to our Republic’s roots.  The Federalist Papers can give us a view into the vision our founder’s had for our then-fledgling nation.  In Federalist #12, Alexander Hamilton argues that the best way for the federal government to raise revenue is through indirect taxation, such as excises on imports.

Direct taxation was seen as anathema to our system of government.  In Federalist #32, Hamilton expounds on the subject and stated that our government, “…requires that the individual States should possess an independent and uncontrollable authority to raise their own revenues for the supply of their own wants.”  In essence, the federal government’s ability to levy taxes was meant to be limited in scope, while the states’ ability to do the same was meant to be much broader.

The reasoning behind this was simple:  States are responsible for most of their own affairs and know what method of taxation is best for its residents.  The federal government should be limited and thus shouldn’t be able to draw unlimited revenue from the citizens.  The moment we gave the federal government the authority to use a progressive income tax system; our nation’s trajectory has been leading to our present crisis.

Some might say that this original vision cannot sustain our nation’s current financial responsibilities.  Exactly!  It shouldn’t.  The federal government needs to be starved so that we can restore fiscal sanity to our government coffers, while at the same time restoring the right of states to determine their own destinies.  We have leviathan, we need to trade it in for a Republic.

Guillermo Vallejo works on Capitol Hill for a Florida Member of Congress. He is originally from Miami, Florida and holds a Masters Degree in Democracy and Governance from Georgetown University. The views expressed herein are his own and provided in a personal capacity, not tied to his work in the U.S. Government.

  • Verde

    I agree that starving the federal government would go a long way toward reducing it. But how to accomplish it? With an entrenched bureaucracy resisting, as I’m sure they would, how can the spending be cut?

    I’ve been reading about the run up to the American revolution and I’m beginning to think maybe we should do what our founders did. They set up their own government in the form of the continental congress and declared to the crown that they would be running their own lives from that point forward.

    That would require the internal fortitude to ignore federal rules and regulations and would also require the responsibility, on the part of the people refusing to obey the government, to take their own affairs in hand and begin to run them. We do have, after all, a history of local and state governance, so it is not beyond the realm of experience to do something like this.

    If enough people could be persuaded that locally formed governmental councils would take care of the basics, like policing and fire fighting, etc. then maybe they also could be persuaded to stop sending their taxes to D.C. and instead fund the local councils.

    Just a thought.

  • Thank you for your comment Verde. Keep them coming. Starting over sounds tempting, especially during tough economic times; however, unless there is a mind shift about the true role of government, as you lay out, things will stay the same.You should chime in locally with your school boards, county or town commission, and other local government entities. Tell these folks what you think and hold them accountable in the 2012 elections.

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