“Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.” With these words President Ronald Reagan captured the essence of the biggest problem that faces America today. Not only has the size and scope of the federal government grown well beyond the scope of the limited national authority created by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution, the recent scandals of the United States government demonstrate that constitutional protections are in grave danger.
While partisans on both sides of the political divide like to point fingers at each other, the truth is that political scandals are bi-partisan in nature and take place regardless of which party controls the White House and Congress.
Recent scandals of the Obama administration have been much in the headlines lately:
- IRS targeting conservative political groups. This is nothing new; as Time magazine reports in the 1960s both Kennedy and Nixon used the IRS to target their ideological enemies, sometimes in cahoots with the FBI. Legitimate government functions should treat and protect all citizens equally. Targeting political opponents is clearly a violation of law, ethics and the First Amendment.
- The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi in which four Americans lost their lives. In the aftermath, the Obama administration attributed the attack to an inflammatory video, when in fact it was a coordinated terrorist attack. To this day, the Obama administration continues to stonewall the congressional investigations into what happened on September 11, 2012. At the very least, it appears that the lack of a coordinated military response to the threat contributed to the tragic loss of life. Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton summed up the administration’s point of view quite succinctly when she yelled “What difference at this point does it make?” during a congressional hearing.
- The “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal in which the ATF allowed illegal straw purchasers to purchase guns from federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs) and sell or give them to members of Mexican drug cartels. Of the 2,000 firearms which were sold, only 710 have been recovered. In essence, the Federal government encouraged FFLs to break the law, allowed dangerous weapons to fall into criminal hands which resulted in the deaths of more than 200 Mexicans.
- Living the high life in Las Vegas. In 2010 the head of the General Services Administration and two staffers were fired or resigned after it was revealed that they had spent $822,000 in Las Vegas for a four-day training conference. This abuse of taxpayer money was legally and morally wrong.
Perhaps the most egregious government scandal of late – the NSA spying program – had its start during the administration of George W. Bush. In a well-intentioned but ultimately misguided effort to protect the national security of America President Bush signed the “Protect America Act” which allowed the NSA to start the PRISM program. NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified NSA documents which revealed the extent of NSA spying, which included spying on American citizens.
This warrantless spying is a clear violation of the 4th Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Another source of dissatisfaction with the Federal government has to do with the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” as its partisan supporters used to call it. This law was enacted during a time period when one party – the Democrats – had control of two-thirds of the federal government. They developed and enacted a law that amounts to nothing less than a government takeover of nine percent of the US economy. With its perverse incentives and cross-subsidies, and a significant part of the plan involving IRS administration and subsidies to certain individuals it is impractical and morally wrong. In this case, though, nobody can blame the Republicans since the Act passed Congress without a single Republican vote in support. In a recent poll, CBS news reports that only 31 percent of Americans approve of Obamacare.
Since the early 1990s when a national health care law was first debated – remember “Hillarycare”? – I have had the sense that the Federal government is out of control and is actually a threat to the liberty and freedom that we Americans take for granted. It did not come as a surprise to me to learn that in the Gallup poll released yesterday that a full 72% of Americans say that Big Government is the greatest threat to the United States, eclipsing both big business and big labor. What did surprise me was the number of Democrats – 56% – who identified big government as the biggest threat.
This could represent a major shift in electoral politics. I believe (and hope) that this foreshadows a change in 2014 with Republicans gaining ground in the House, gaining control of the Senate and gaining ground in the state houses and legislatures as well.
One thing is clear, however. As Mark Levin writes in his book The Liberty Amendments “The federal government consumes nearly 25 percent of all goods and services produced each year by the American people.” Further, “It is the nation’s largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, health-care provider, and pension guarantor”. 1
This behemoth must be brought under control and downsized. It is good to know that almost three quarters of Americans realize this.
1 Mark Levin, The Liberty Amendments – Restoring the American Republic, pages 6 and 7
By Richard D. Turnquist
December 19, 2013