There are lots of things that our federal government has to do, should do, and that we want it to do. They are listed in the Constitution of the United States.
But then the Constitution says that what isn't specifically delegated to the federal government should be left to the states or the people.
We have run into serious economic trouble because the federal government doesn't stay within its constitutional limits. It tries to do too much and spends too much, unconstitutionally and unwisely -- and runs a trillion-dollar-plus deficit each year despite too-high taxes.
What do you think would happen if the federal government limited itself to its constitutional functions -- and left the rest to the states or the people, as the Constitution provides?
In recent years, the word "earmarks" has come into familiar use. It has become the custom for members of Congress not to do just pertinent and constitutional things, but to add onto essential bills many "earmarks" to provide money for other things. Some may be desirable for some, but many are unconstitutional or uneconomical, or both.
Lots of us like to get a variety of "goodies" from the federal government, as though they were "free." But we could go a little of the way toward balancing our federal budget and easing our taxes if we just did away with "earmarks."
Conservative Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio recently said, "The time has come for House Republicans to adopt an immediate, unilateral moratorium on all earmarks."
He's right. But why should it be "unilateral"?
Liberal Democrat Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii indicated he would oppose a ban, saying, "I don't believe this policy of ceding authority to the executive branch on any spending decision is in the best interests of the Congress or the American people."
What do you think would happen if both Democrats and Republicans made a concerted effort to squeeze out of federal spending everything they could that is unconstitutional -- or just unwise and uneconomical?
Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., who is chairman of the House Appropriations panel, said that if there were a ban on earmarks favoring companies that earn profits and make political campaign contributions, a result would be fewer ethics problems, not to mention saving a lot of money.
But sadly, earmarks are not on the way "out" -- and government economy and balanced budgets are not on the way "in."
But shouldn't we, the voters, think it would be a good idea to elect representatives, senators and presidents who would have government spend less, tax us less and produce more reasonable and constitutional federal finances?