Elder: Our Only Hope to Stop Government's Spending Rampage Is Article V of the Constitution


Republicans look poised to retake the House and perhaps even the Senate in November.

After all, crime is hitting levels not seen since the 1990s. In January, The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Several cities set new records for murders last year. Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., Louisville, Ky., and Albuquerque, N.M., had their deadliest years on record.” In Chicago this past weekend, seven people were killed and 36 others shot, making it the city’s most violent weekend of the year.

Inflation has not been this bad since the early 1980s. USA Today recently wrote that “consumer prices climbed further into the stratosphere in March.”

The number of attempted illegal entries last fiscal year (which ended in September) was at the highest level since 1960, when Border Patrol started recording illegal entry attempts. President Joe Biden’s disastrous pullout from Afghanistan has frightened friends and allies and emboldened enemies.

As campaign issues used against Democrats go, this is low-hanging fruit. But what is the Republican plan to rein in spending and the size and intrusiveness of government given that most of the spending is on autopilot?

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Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare take the biggest chunk, and combined with Social Security these entitlements (aka “programs”) take more than half of taxpayer (aka “government”) dollars.

Next is income security, which includes general retirement and disability insurance; federal employee retirement, disability and military retirement; unemployment compensation; housing assistance; nutrition assistance; foster care; Supplemental Security Income; and the earned income and child tax credits. They are followed, in decreasing order, by national security and interest on the debt. Combined, these programs consume almost all federal spending.

When then-President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, Republicans called it costly, intrusive and a giant leap toward the Democrats’ ultimate health care goal: single-payer. Republicans vowed to repeal it. Candidate Donald Trump promised to “replace Obamacare with something better.” But Obamacare became increasingly popular, and Republicans failed to offer a replacement. Republicans stopped calling for its repeal.

When Ronald Reagan first ran for California governor in 1966, his opponents were quick to point out that he said Social Security should be “voluntary.” After the attack, he dropped the idea and never again suggested it.

Should the states call a constitutional convention to rein in federal spending?

As a presidential candidate in 1980, Reagan promised to abolish the new Department of Education. By the time he left office eight years later, however, the department had not only survived, but it was bigger than when he entered office.

Former President George W. Bush promoted a plan to allow workers to direct a portion of their Social Security contribution into a private savings account that could be used to invest in the stock market. Democrats pounced, calling the “privatization” plan risky and dangerous. Rep. Nancy Pelosi later called Bush’s increasingly unpopular idea a “political gift” for Democrats. Republicans who once supported the idea ran away from it, and Bush dropped it.

Both parties spend. But campaigning to reduce, let alone take away programs, is political suicide. And there is increasingly less discussion or even concern about the growing national debt.

The only path forward is to tie the hands of Congress through an amendment to the Constitution that fixes government spending to a set percentage of our gross domestic product, with exceptions for war or natural disasters.

Article V of the Constitution gives states the power to call a convention to propose amendments. Thirty-four states must agree to do so. Last month, South Carolina joined, putting the number of states calling for a convention at 19. More than halfway there.

Op-Ed: We Now Have Proof - It's Impossible for the US Government to Balance Its Books

It’s our only hope to stop the spending rampage. Few Republicans are calling for this. Their silence is deafening.


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