With President Obama about to deliver another State of the Union address, I offer a three year old correction to the legislative priorities of our President and Congress. Unlike President Obama’s long long long boring and uninspired utterances, this superior address is only slightly longer than President Washington’s initial address.
Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
In accordance with our Constitution, I come before you to report on the state of our Union, and recommend necessary legislation to protect the individual rights of our fellow citizens.
Today, the state of our Union is precarious. Truly, the republic has seen more acute peril, met firmly the challenge of that day, and progressively expanded the liberty of our citizens. However, we are again at a critical moment of choice.
In these times, our Constitution is being challenged. Governor Perry of Texas has openly discussed secession. More than 30 states pay lobbyists to represent them to Congress and the federal executive branch. State legislatures around the country consider bills designed to nullify existing and potential federal statutes within their borders. Former Speaker of the House Gingrich, a potential presidential candidate, has called for the impeachment of judges who protect individual citizens’ rights from prosecutions by subjective majority opinion.
The bitter and thoughtless partisanship within our polity is symptomatic of our malady. Instead of reasoned discourse, vitriol and hyperbolical rhetoric exaggerates small difference for the sake of political theater and advantage. Worse, our parties encourage extreme factions–who seek to violate the rights of their neighbor–to partisan action.
Another symptom is our recent economic downturn that was exacerbated by government regulation, which previous legislators had falsely promised would eliminate risk.
Further, the expansion of the public domain has strangled the independence of our civil society. Government aid became government influence, but now metastasizes into government control. As everything becomes politicized our fundamental liberties have been checked and subordinated in the name of the government’s interest.
However, our problems are more fundamental than these chilling symptoms. More than an unrestrained fiscal deficit, our republic suffers from a Justice deficit. Declining Achievement, falling Production, and constrained Freedom are the consequences of rising injustice. Ultimately, the metric by which we can assess improvement upon this Justice deficit is the degree to which the legislature, executive, and judiciary act to protect the individual rights of our citizens.
Instead of an expansive list of budget initiatives, I call your attention to four courses of action designed to address the fundamental issue of Justice and restore our constitutional balance by constraining unchecked executive power, averting a looming fiscal bankruptcy, ending national legislative encroachments upon state police powers, and restoring constitutional limits upon federal statutes.
First, I call upon the Congress to enact civil right legislation to extend substantive due process rights to our citizens who challenge executive administrative actions and rulings. Since 1984, the Supreme Court’s Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council decision has put an undue burden upon citizens seeking to defend themselves, their property, and their enterprises from federal executive powers that are beyond court review. That the executive can run unchecked by the judiciary is an injustice that Congress can and should redress, so that our citizens can defend their rights in court.
Second, to address our impending fiscal bankruptcy, I call upon the Congress to pass legislation to stop accruing eligibility for new federal Social Security and Medicare program benefits. This can be done in such a way as to protect the interests of those who have been paying into the system.
To prevent the expansion of existing liabilities, individual payroll taxes should be eliminated, thus freezing federal benefit liabilities at that point in time. Existing liabilities should be paid through tax reform, the sale of federal assets, and voluntary buyouts to be paid with bonds from the Social Security trust fund. By tax reform, I mean the combining of individual payroll and income tax withholdings at a lower flat rate without deductions, and the triggered phase out of employer payroll taxes.
Everyone will receive the benefits for which they have paid, but they will also be free from making future payments into the trust funds so that they can invest for their own retirement.
Third, I call upon the Congress to pass legislation to eliminate federal domestic policy mandates upon states and convert existing federal matching funds into a single no-strings-attached block grant program. These grants should be apportioned by legislative representation and reduced over time so as to decline to zero. By cutting the federal funding link to state policy, we can end the usurpation of state police powers committed by prior Congresses. Further, by maintaining and then drawing down funding, we will give the states the transition time required to adjust their own laws and funding sources.
Fourth, I call the Congress’ attention to prior Congresses who exceeded their enumerated powers, especially related to the interstate commerce clause. Although the President can protect our citizen from future unconstitutional legislation through the veto, past unconstitutional statutes must be corrected by the legislature and the courts.
On an on-going basis, to aid you in the protection of our citizens’ rights, I shall take the following actions:
(1) request the Congress either substantiate the constitutionality of prior statutes impinging upon our citizens’ rights or repeal such statutes,
(2) veto future appropriations that specifically support past statutes that remain unconstitutional in my judgment, and
(3) direct U.S. Attorneys to not challenge the standing of individuals seeking protection from previously noted unconstitutional statutes in court, and to limit the government’s response to constitutional challenges to those substantiations which Congress provided.
These transforming actions—directed towards civil rights, entitlement reform, federalism, and constitutionally focused government—have been selected because of their broad impact as first steps in governmental reform. There is much more that can and should be done. However, within this session of Congress, definitive and complete legislative action is necessary on all of these priority issues. Next year, there will be new challenges requiring our focus and cooperation.
In closing, let me repeat, and let us act upon, the words of President Washington in the first State of the Union message:
The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed, and I shall derive great satisfaction from a cooperation with you in the pleasing though arduous task of insuring to our fellow citizens the blessings which they have a right to expect from a free, efficient, and equal government.