I've Had Just About Enough. How About You?

After listening to the rhetoric from the President, Congressional leaders, various members of Congress, and the ever chattering media about the fiscal cliff, taxes, and out of control spending, I have to say I've had enough.

It has become apparent to me that no one is really serious about solving the problem of our profligate government spending, shrinking revenue base, economy-strangling regulations and rogue government agencies. Oh, they make all of the appropriate noises about reining in the trillion dollar deficits, but only over a period of ten years (or more). As if we're going to believe them this time. (I certainly haven't the last umpteen times those promises have been made.)

Give me and 5 friends an hour or so and I know we can cut the budget, broaden the tax base while lowering tax rates, shrink the size of government, and get the economy moving again, all while maintaining the more important social programs.

I know the argument will be made by the Powers-That-Be that simplistic solutions are not the answer to the complicated fiscal problem in which we find ourselves, but that's a cop-out. If the fiscal problem is an overgrown forest, then pruning shears won't fix it. We need to use chainsaws.

The problem with letting the 'professionals' deal with it is that there's always some program/agency/subsidy that somebody somewhere wants preserved, even if it makes no sense to do so. (A lot of that comes down to what I call the “But we've always done it that way!” reaction.) The professionals can't be objective because they're beholden to the folks who helped them get elected. (I am not talking about the electorate. They merely voted for the professionals. I'm talking about the folks who provided financial and other kinds of support to help them get elected.)

Maybe it's time to start cleaning house by firing everyone.

First, come the 2014 elections (assuming we haven't already slipped into a depression), we vote everyone out, Democrats and Republicans alike. Get new folks in there who have never held office before.

Second, we push to repeal the 17th Amendment and return the election of senators to the state legislatures. Direct elections makes them nothing more than super-representatives to Congress, beholden the special interests that helped them get elected. (Not that there won't be some of that if legislatures elect senators, but I think their influence will be greatly diminished.) By returning senatorial elections to the state legislatures the senators will have to answer to the legislators back home if they don't represent the best interests of their home state. If they don't do their job they get fired.

Third, any budget or tax bill would have to be reviewed by randomly selected accountants, business people (big and small), financial, and some ordinary citizens. If the bill doesn't pass the smell test it never makes it out onto the floor for a vote.

Fourth, no spending or tax riders allowed on proposed legislation that has nothing to do with either. This helps lessen the “Gee, if you don't vote to pass the rider you're bill is dead and all those starving children will go hungry...” extortion often used in state houses and Congress. (My home state of New Hampshire already has a constitutional ban on such mechanisms and it's worked pretty well for us.)

Fifth, amend the Constitution to limit congressional sessions to no more than 4 months in any calendar year, maybe two in the spring and two in the fall. I don't mean legislative days when the House or Senate are in their respective chambers, but 4 calendar months, period. The other 8 months they should go home. The problem with the present system is that it allows Congress too much time to waste time and tax dollars on things we really don't need or want. If they're limited to 4 months out of the year to get things done, they won't have enough time to do anything but what's needed.

Last, but not least, figure out some way of preventing what I can only call “Do Something!” legislation. There are usually all kinds of unintended consequences to such legislation and it rarely achieves its purported goals, all while costing money we don't have or could use better elsewhere. All it is really is feel-good legislation that in the end does more harm than good.