We see four major abuses perpetrated by the federal government.
These abuses are not mere instances of bad policy. They are driving us towards an age of "soft tyranny" in which the government does not shatter men's wills but "softens, bends, and guides" them. If we do nothing to halt these abuses, we run the risk of becoming, as Alexis de Tocquevill warned in 1840, nothing more than "a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1840)
1. The Spending and Debt Crisis
The $17 trillion national debt is staggering, but it only tells a part of the story. If we apply the normal rules of accounting, the federal government owes trillions more in vested Social Security benefits and other programs. This is why the government cannot tax its way out of debt. Even if they confiscated everything, it would not cover the debt.
2. The Regulatory Crisis
The federal bureaucracy has placed a regulatory burden upon businesses that is complex, conflicted, and crushing. Little accountability exists when agencies—rather than Congress—enact the real substance of the law. Research from the American Enterprise Institute, shows that since 1949 federal regulations have lowered the real GDP growth by 2% and made America 72% poorer.
3. Congressional Attacks on State Sovereignty
For years, Congress has been using federal grants to keep the states under its control. Using these grants accompanied by mandates (which are rarely fully funded), Congress has turned state legislatures into their regional agencies rather than truly independent republican governments.
A radical social agenda and an erosion of the rights of the people accompany all of this. While substantial efforts have been made to combat the social engineering and to protect peoples’ rights, we have missed one of the most important principles of the American founding.
4. Federal Takeover of the Decision-Making Process
The Founders believed that the structures of a limited government would provide the greatest protection of liberty. There were to be checks and balances at the federal level. And everything not specifically granted to Congress for legislative control was to be left to the states.
Collusion among decision-makers in Washington, D.C., has replaced these checks and balances. The federal judiciary supports Congress and the White House in its ever-escalating attack upon the jurisdiction of the fifty states.
We need to realize that the structure of decision-making matters. Who decides what the law shall be is even more important than what is decided. The protection of liberty requires a strict adherence to the principle that power is limited and delegated.
Washington, D.C., does not believe this principle, as evidenced by an unbroken practice of expanding the boundaries of federal power. In a remarkably frank admission, the Supreme Court rebuffed another challenge to the federal spending power by acknowledging their approval of programs that violate the will of the Founders:
This framework has been sufficiently flexible over the past two centuries to allow for enormous changes in the nature of government. The Federal Government undertakes activities today that would have been unimaginable to the Framers in two senses; first, because the Framers would not have conceived that any government would conduct such activities; and second, because the Framers would not have believed that the Federal Government, rather than the States, would assume such responsibilities. Yet the powers conferred upon the Federal Government by the Constitution were phrased in language broad enough to allow for the expansion of the Federal Government's role.
New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 157 (1992).
What Does this Mean?
This is not a partisan issue. Washington, D.C., will never voluntarily relinquish meaningful power—no matter who is elected. The only rational conclusion is this: unless some political force outside of Washington, D.C., intervenes, the federal government will continue to bankrupt this nation, embezzle the legitimate authority of the states, and destroy the liberty of the people. Rather than securing the blessings of liberty for future generations, Washington, D.C., is on a path that will enslave our children and grandchildren to the debts of the past.
The problem is big, but we have a solution. Article V gives us a tool to fix the mess in D.C.