So what about THIS debt-reduction plan?

Yet another bipartisan commission is proposing a plan to cut the federal deficit.  What do you think of this one?  From  co-chairs Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin:

To ensure a more robust recovery, we propose a one-year “payroll tax holiday” for 2011, suspending Social Security payroll taxes for employers and employees. We also would phase in the steps to reduce deficits and debt gradually beginning in 2012, so the economy will be strong enough to absorb them.

We would stabilize the debt held by the public at less than 60 percent of gross domestic product, an internationally recognized standard; reduce annual deficits to manageable levels; and balance the “primary” budget (everything other than interest payments) by 2014.

We would dramatically simplify the tax system, establishing individual tax rates of 15 and 27 percent (from the current high of 35), cutting the corporate tax rate to 27 percent (from 35 today), ending most deductions and credits while simplifying the rest, and ensuring that nearly 90 million households no longer have to file returns. To reduce the debt, we would supplement our spending cuts with a 6.5 percent “debt-reduction sales tax.”

We would strengthen Social Security so it can pay benefits for the next 75 years by gradually raising the amount of wages subject to payroll taxes; slightly reducing the growth in benefits for the top 25 percent of beneficiaries; raising the minimum benefit for long-term, low-wage workers; indexing benefits to life expectancy; and changing the calculation of cost-of-living adjustments to better reflect inflation. We would not raise the age at which senior citizens can begin receiving benefits.

We would control health-care costs – the biggest driver of long-term deficits – by reforming Medicare and Medicaid while, starting in 2018, capping and then phasing out the tax exclusion for employer-provided health care. We would reform medical malpractice laws and help address the health costs tied to rising obesity by imposing a tax on high-calorie sodas.

We would freeze domestic discretionary spending for four years and defense spending for five, both at 2011 levels, and then limit their future growth to the rate of growth in the economy.

Finally, we would cap domestic and defense discretionary spending (with tight exceptions for true emergencies) and trigger across-the-board cuts if the caps are breached; enact a strict pay-as-you-go statutory rule for tax cuts or expansions of entitlements; and enact long-term budgets for major entitlements while creating a Fiscal Accountability Commission that would recommend policy changes every five years if entitlements are exceeding their budgets.

via Pete V. Domenici and Alice M. Rivlin – Payroll tax holiday and other measures to reduce the debt.

The Social Security payroll tax holiday for an entire year would be enormously popular and would put extra money in people’s paychecks immediately.  Maybe that would be the boost the economy needs.  I like the flat tax in principle, but I worry that eliminating charitable deductions (if that’s part of it; the article doesn’t say) would hurt churches and other good causes.  And wouldn’t a 6.5% “debt reduction sales tax” hurt the economy, taking away the good other parts of this plan might do?  Caps and freezes would probably be good.

Again, what do you think?  Do you have better ideas?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • collie

    You know what I’d like to say to Congress re: 6.5% debt reduction sales tax? You go first. Cut 6.5% from the fed gov’s total budget, including entitlements, then we’ll think about helping pay extra to whittle down the debt some more.

    An aside about Alice Rivlin: I like her. She interviewed Steve Forbes a few years back, and though the two couldn’t be more different when it came to economic policy, they were very civil in discussing their differences. I found the exchange interesting, even though I don’t much understand economics. I’m pretty sure the interview was on C-Span.

  • collie

    You know what I’d like to say to Congress re: 6.5% debt reduction sales tax? You go first. Cut 6.5% from the fed gov’s total budget, including entitlements, then we’ll think about helping pay extra to whittle down the debt some more.

    An aside about Alice Rivlin: I like her. She interviewed Steve Forbes a few years back, and though the two couldn’t be more different when it came to economic policy, they were very civil in discussing their differences. I found the exchange interesting, even though I don’t much understand economics. I’m pretty sure the interview was on C-Span.

  • WebMonk

    Yawn.

    It’s not like anything serious will come of this. It’ll get amended out the wazoo and MAYBE trim a percentage point or two from spending. It might even cut taxes just an itsy bitsy bit. It will almost certainly have next to zero effect on the national debt.

    My cynicism is peaking out.

  • WebMonk

    Yawn.

    It’s not like anything serious will come of this. It’ll get amended out the wazoo and MAYBE trim a percentage point or two from spending. It might even cut taxes just an itsy bitsy bit. It will almost certainly have next to zero effect on the national debt.

    My cynicism is peaking out.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    What WebMonk says. Also, suspending FICA taxes would simply bring Socialist Insecurity’s actuarial disaster a few years closer. Not a good thing with a Congress that needs to be threatened with a Taser to get anything substantive done!

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    What WebMonk says. Also, suspending FICA taxes would simply bring Socialist Insecurity’s actuarial disaster a few years closer. Not a good thing with a Congress that needs to be threatened with a Taser to get anything substantive done!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Webmonk, is it peeking out, like through the curtains? Or is it almost at its highest point ever? Either way, I’m concerned for you.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Webmonk, is it peeking out, like through the curtains? Or is it almost at its highest point ever? Either way, I’m concerned for you.

  • DonS

    Ultimately, if enacted as is, this would be a horrible plan. But, it is constructive to have these conversations and to be talking about our options going forward.

    The reason why this particular plan is horrible is because it seeks to lock in spending at current levels, and then increase taxation to cover that spending. The federal government spends way too much currently as a percentage of GDP and needs to be rolling back at least to historical norms. And Collie makes a good point, which I have also made in the past. Our government is much better at raising taxes than cutting spending. Tax increases are generally immediate and permanent, while spending cuts are generally “phased in” and based on anticipated future increased spending rather than on current spending. We seldom actually see real spending reductions, and never on a broad scale.
    1. Why a one-year payroll tax holiday now? We’ve got a problem — let’s get to work. This was a good idea in 2009, but we chose to issue 150 million checks and contribute funds to so-called “shovel-ready projects”, to certain favored special interests, instead. We cannot afford more “stimulus”.
    2. A flatter and more simplified tax system is a good thing. And were it to stay in place, I wouldn’t mind the elimination of most tax deductions. What happened in 1986, though, was the same thing — two rates, 15% and 28%, in exchange for eliminating many tax deductions, including deduction of most debt interest, full deduction of medical expenses, and the like. Then, the Democrats gradually raised the rates back up to 39.6% during the Clinton years, without restoring any of the deductions, to make it “fair”. They’ll do it again, in a heartbeat. So I don’t trust ‘em.
    3. The 6.5% national sales tax, on top of the income tax, is a crock. In many states, that would put the sales tax at more than 15%.
    And it would never go away. Rather, it would just gradually be increased, as all sales taxes are. I would love to REPLACE the income tax with a national sales tax, because I think it is a good idea to tax consumption rather than production. But not both.
    4. Social Security tax — they want to raise the payroll tax caps, thus slamming higher income workers with tremendously increased taxes, while also lowering their benefits. Hmmm, does that seem fair? When you’re already taxing their income at marginal rates of 27-37%, after removing their tax deductions, and then you want to layer another 15.5% FICA and Medicare tax on top of that, you’re talking about taking over half of someone’s marginal income, for someone making as little as just over $100,000. Plus whatever the taxpayer’s state takes. That’s way too much, both as a matter of fairness and as a matter of economic sense. At some point you disincentivize production, and cause a greater lack of compliance with the tax code because of perceived unfairness. In a voluntary compliance tax system, that’s a dangerous thing.
    Social security taxes are way high enough. Benefit formulas need to be adjusted, and the retirement age needs to be sharply increased, quickly. Why are they specifically rejecting an age increase, in favor of tax increases? That’s nonsensical.

    5. Health care costs — what about repealing Obamacare, and replacing it with commonsense cost reform, including, primarily, a move to high deductible catastrophic policies combined with HSA’s and contributions to those HSA’s for lower income people? That makes a lot more sense, and gives the health care market a much more healthy relationship of the patient to costs. A soda tax? What a joke. And anything put off until 2018 is never going to happen.

    6. Freezing domestic discretionary spending at bloated 2011 levels is a joke. Go back to 2008, and you’ve got something. Placing arbitrary caps on defense spending is impossible, because you have to put in too many provisos for “emergencies”. When you allow for emergencies in spending caps, there are a lot of them. Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger about that.

    7. Entitlements — A Fiscal Accountability Commission? I pronounce this plan gutless.

  • DonS

    Ultimately, if enacted as is, this would be a horrible plan. But, it is constructive to have these conversations and to be talking about our options going forward.

    The reason why this particular plan is horrible is because it seeks to lock in spending at current levels, and then increase taxation to cover that spending. The federal government spends way too much currently as a percentage of GDP and needs to be rolling back at least to historical norms. And Collie makes a good point, which I have also made in the past. Our government is much better at raising taxes than cutting spending. Tax increases are generally immediate and permanent, while spending cuts are generally “phased in” and based on anticipated future increased spending rather than on current spending. We seldom actually see real spending reductions, and never on a broad scale.
    1. Why a one-year payroll tax holiday now? We’ve got a problem — let’s get to work. This was a good idea in 2009, but we chose to issue 150 million checks and contribute funds to so-called “shovel-ready projects”, to certain favored special interests, instead. We cannot afford more “stimulus”.
    2. A flatter and more simplified tax system is a good thing. And were it to stay in place, I wouldn’t mind the elimination of most tax deductions. What happened in 1986, though, was the same thing — two rates, 15% and 28%, in exchange for eliminating many tax deductions, including deduction of most debt interest, full deduction of medical expenses, and the like. Then, the Democrats gradually raised the rates back up to 39.6% during the Clinton years, without restoring any of the deductions, to make it “fair”. They’ll do it again, in a heartbeat. So I don’t trust ‘em.
    3. The 6.5% national sales tax, on top of the income tax, is a crock. In many states, that would put the sales tax at more than 15%.
    And it would never go away. Rather, it would just gradually be increased, as all sales taxes are. I would love to REPLACE the income tax with a national sales tax, because I think it is a good idea to tax consumption rather than production. But not both.
    4. Social Security tax — they want to raise the payroll tax caps, thus slamming higher income workers with tremendously increased taxes, while also lowering their benefits. Hmmm, does that seem fair? When you’re already taxing their income at marginal rates of 27-37%, after removing their tax deductions, and then you want to layer another 15.5% FICA and Medicare tax on top of that, you’re talking about taking over half of someone’s marginal income, for someone making as little as just over $100,000. Plus whatever the taxpayer’s state takes. That’s way too much, both as a matter of fairness and as a matter of economic sense. At some point you disincentivize production, and cause a greater lack of compliance with the tax code because of perceived unfairness. In a voluntary compliance tax system, that’s a dangerous thing.
    Social security taxes are way high enough. Benefit formulas need to be adjusted, and the retirement age needs to be sharply increased, quickly. Why are they specifically rejecting an age increase, in favor of tax increases? That’s nonsensical.

    5. Health care costs — what about repealing Obamacare, and replacing it with commonsense cost reform, including, primarily, a move to high deductible catastrophic policies combined with HSA’s and contributions to those HSA’s for lower income people? That makes a lot more sense, and gives the health care market a much more healthy relationship of the patient to costs. A soda tax? What a joke. And anything put off until 2018 is never going to happen.

    6. Freezing domestic discretionary spending at bloated 2011 levels is a joke. Go back to 2008, and you’ve got something. Placing arbitrary caps on defense spending is impossible, because you have to put in too many provisos for “emergencies”. When you allow for emergencies in spending caps, there are a lot of them. Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger about that.

    7. Entitlements — A Fiscal Accountability Commission? I pronounce this plan gutless.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    My cynicism is piqued as well.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    My cynicism is piqued as well.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yes, tODD, concerned for you as well.

    And my cynicism? Well, let’s just say I need a peak-load of prayers.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Yes, tODD, concerned for you as well.

    And my cynicism? Well, let’s just say I need a peak-load of prayers.

  • CJB

    http://philanthropy.com/article/Deficit-Plan-Would-Eliminate/125420/

    The article linked above does discuss the part of the deficit plan that would eliminate tax deductions for charitable giving.

    Certainly such an action could have an enormous impact on churches and other non-profit organizations

  • CJB

    http://philanthropy.com/article/Deficit-Plan-Would-Eliminate/125420/

    The article linked above does discuss the part of the deficit plan that would eliminate tax deductions for charitable giving.

    Certainly such an action could have an enormous impact on churches and other non-profit organizations

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    This is stupid. Corporations are already hoarding more cash than ever before. If we really want an economic recovery we will STOP PRINTING MONEY. Just my 2 cents…

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    This is stupid. Corporations are already hoarding more cash than ever before. If we really want an economic recovery we will STOP PRINTING MONEY. Just my 2 cents…

  • Porcell

    Actually, both this proposal and the Bowles-Simpson one are quite well studied and considered, though most Americans, not really understanding that we are on the brink of financial disaster, stand around harping and cynically quailing about details rather than getting seriously concerned.

    Personally, I have placed most of my investments abroad, to some extent in Asia and mostly in Switzerland and other sensible European- and some emerging market- entities, as it becomes increasingly clear that most Americans don’t wish to face up to the underfunded liabilities of assorted American “entitlements” and assorted other fiscal excrescences. A few serious politicians, including Paul Ryan and Scott Brown, understand this, though most are going for arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic solutions. While Rivkin and Dominici get it, most Americans are whistling Dixie past the graveyard.

    Given that the Fed has doubled its balance sheet and on top of this is just now adding a QE2 printing of an additional some $800 billion, a future drastic inflation is inevitable. The Tea Party has the right idea, though once their politicians arrive within the Beltway, they will inevitably become corrupted by the siren songs of big government.

  • Porcell

    Actually, both this proposal and the Bowles-Simpson one are quite well studied and considered, though most Americans, not really understanding that we are on the brink of financial disaster, stand around harping and cynically quailing about details rather than getting seriously concerned.

    Personally, I have placed most of my investments abroad, to some extent in Asia and mostly in Switzerland and other sensible European- and some emerging market- entities, as it becomes increasingly clear that most Americans don’t wish to face up to the underfunded liabilities of assorted American “entitlements” and assorted other fiscal excrescences. A few serious politicians, including Paul Ryan and Scott Brown, understand this, though most are going for arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic solutions. While Rivkin and Dominici get it, most Americans are whistling Dixie past the graveyard.

    Given that the Fed has doubled its balance sheet and on top of this is just now adding a QE2 printing of an additional some $800 billion, a future drastic inflation is inevitable. The Tea Party has the right idea, though once their politicians arrive within the Beltway, they will inevitably become corrupted by the siren songs of big government.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell: Asia? Really? China is a bubble just waiting to burst.

    Speaking of “financial disaster,” do you know who “understood this” long before Paul Ryan (hack) and Scott Brown (double hack)? Ron Paul. But he doesn’t have the “cajones” to applaud our numerous foreign wars, so he never makes your list. Not that this is relevant, but I merely had to reiterate my support for one of the few sincere representatives in Congress.

    I’ll second Don’s objections to this particular proposal.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell: Asia? Really? China is a bubble just waiting to burst.

    Speaking of “financial disaster,” do you know who “understood this” long before Paul Ryan (hack) and Scott Brown (double hack)? Ron Paul. But he doesn’t have the “cajones” to applaud our numerous foreign wars, so he never makes your list. Not that this is relevant, but I merely had to reiterate my support for one of the few sincere representatives in Congress.

    I’ll second Don’s objections to this particular proposal.

  • SKPeterson

    Bad, bad and bad. 27%? Along with a 6.5% sales tax to encourage savings, so interest can continue to be taxed at the the current rate and corporate income still gets taxed twice? How about eliminating a few departments and then reducing real expenditures by 10%? Try a top income tax rate of 15%, and progressively go down to 5%. Then eliminate the payroll tax on the first $25K of every worker’s income. And stop QE, QE2, QE3, … or creating more money. Here’s another thought, try cutting spending by twice the amount you cut taxes.

    Yeah, my cynicism isn’t just peeking out, it’s leaking out all over.

  • SKPeterson

    Bad, bad and bad. 27%? Along with a 6.5% sales tax to encourage savings, so interest can continue to be taxed at the the current rate and corporate income still gets taxed twice? How about eliminating a few departments and then reducing real expenditures by 10%? Try a top income tax rate of 15%, and progressively go down to 5%. Then eliminate the payroll tax on the first $25K of every worker’s income. And stop QE, QE2, QE3, … or creating more money. Here’s another thought, try cutting spending by twice the amount you cut taxes.

    Yeah, my cynicism isn’t just peeking out, it’s leaking out all over.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, As to China, I’m involved through an American firm with some private equity positions. At this point, I wouldn’t touch a Chinese a regular equity. I’m, also, looking into the soundness of the Taiwan and Bombay exchanges.

    As to Ron Paul, I regard him as naive on international matters and unserious on domestic ones. The American people showed discriminating judgment when they overwhelmingly rejected him in the 2008 presidential primaries. The fellow is a wing-nut.

    SK Peterson, Rivlin and Domnici are two grownups who understand the depth of the impending financial disaster. Their plan is bolder than Bowles-Simpson, as it more realistically deals with Medicare. The best of all the plans is that of Paul Ryan.

    Frankly, I don’t much care which measures are taken, as long as the basic fiscal problem is addressed, though I seriously doubt whether the largely spoiled American people and Congress are capable of taking any strong fiscal medicine.

    ,

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, As to China, I’m involved through an American firm with some private equity positions. At this point, I wouldn’t touch a Chinese a regular equity. I’m, also, looking into the soundness of the Taiwan and Bombay exchanges.

    As to Ron Paul, I regard him as naive on international matters and unserious on domestic ones. The American people showed discriminating judgment when they overwhelmingly rejected him in the 2008 presidential primaries. The fellow is a wing-nut.

    SK Peterson, Rivlin and Domnici are two grownups who understand the depth of the impending financial disaster. Their plan is bolder than Bowles-Simpson, as it more realistically deals with Medicare. The best of all the plans is that of Paul Ryan.

    Frankly, I don’t much care which measures are taken, as long as the basic fiscal problem is addressed, though I seriously doubt whether the largely spoiled American people and Congress are capable of taking any strong fiscal medicine.

    ,

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus:

    As a fellow Wisconsinite, why do you consider Paul Ryan a “hack”?

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus:

    As a fellow Wisconsinite, why do you consider Paul Ryan a “hack”?

  • Porcell

    Good O, Kerner, as a Massachusetts guy, I might ask why Cinci. regards Scott Brown as a double hack. My Massachusetts pride has been shattered.

  • Porcell

    Good O, Kerner, as a Massachusetts guy, I might ask why Cinci. regards Scott Brown as a double hack. My Massachusetts pride has been shattered.

  • Cincinnatus

    Why do I regard Ryan and Brown as hacks? Brown’s hackery should be fairly apparent, but as for Ryan, I tend to subscribe to the Epicurean notion that politics is a worthless pursuit for worthless men. Particularly in America, and particularly at the federal level, truer words have never been spoken. The sort of personality required to run for national election is of the narcissistic, “political” type–and that’s only to run. Imagine the hackery needed to win repeated elections, the sort of favors one has to make and take, the sort of promises one has to fake and break. Ryan, with his half-baked, unsubstantive “economic roadmaps for America,” is little better than the rest of them (example: voting and lobbying for TARP, but then grandstanding about its evils and fighting to preclude the disbursement of its remaining funds). The only reason I am hesitant to include Ron Paul in this category is that he is perhaps the only Congressman who takes states’ rights and federalism seriously, and who is willing to expend political capital (because he has none to waste) on advocating gutsy but hopeless endeavors like auditing the Fed or severely restricting the size and seriousness of our foreign military commitments. But he’s probably a hack on some level too.

    Before you savage my “mischaracterizations” of various political idols, I must confess that I generally despise democracy as a regime type (except at the local level). And I particularly despise the federal government as a whole. All of it.

  • Cincinnatus

    Why do I regard Ryan and Brown as hacks? Brown’s hackery should be fairly apparent, but as for Ryan, I tend to subscribe to the Epicurean notion that politics is a worthless pursuit for worthless men. Particularly in America, and particularly at the federal level, truer words have never been spoken. The sort of personality required to run for national election is of the narcissistic, “political” type–and that’s only to run. Imagine the hackery needed to win repeated elections, the sort of favors one has to make and take, the sort of promises one has to fake and break. Ryan, with his half-baked, unsubstantive “economic roadmaps for America,” is little better than the rest of them (example: voting and lobbying for TARP, but then grandstanding about its evils and fighting to preclude the disbursement of its remaining funds). The only reason I am hesitant to include Ron Paul in this category is that he is perhaps the only Congressman who takes states’ rights and federalism seriously, and who is willing to expend political capital (because he has none to waste) on advocating gutsy but hopeless endeavors like auditing the Fed or severely restricting the size and seriousness of our foreign military commitments. But he’s probably a hack on some level too.

    Before you savage my “mischaracterizations” of various political idols, I must confess that I generally despise democracy as a regime type (except at the local level). And I particularly despise the federal government as a whole. All of it.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, While politics is secondary to culture, especially religion and family, one must pay attention to it, as, given the tendency of fallen men to aggregate power, totalitarianism has a way of becoming dominant. The twentieth-century was proof of this. For better or worse, as Aristotle remarked, Man is a political animal whose nature it is to live in a polis.

    In our history great statesmen, including Bradford, Winthrop, Washington, and Lincoln have served the nation well. Just now, Paul Ryan and Scott Brown fit the definition of statesmen in that they are skilled, experienced, and respected political leaders. Few politicians can be truly regarded as statesmen.

    The vocation of statesman is among the more important ones on this earthly plane.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, While politics is secondary to culture, especially religion and family, one must pay attention to it, as, given the tendency of fallen men to aggregate power, totalitarianism has a way of becoming dominant. The twentieth-century was proof of this. For better or worse, as Aristotle remarked, Man is a political animal whose nature it is to live in a polis.

    In our history great statesmen, including Bradford, Winthrop, Washington, and Lincoln have served the nation well. Just now, Paul Ryan and Scott Brown fit the definition of statesmen in that they are skilled, experienced, and respected political leaders. Few politicians can be truly regarded as statesmen.

    The vocation of statesman is among the more important ones on this earthly plane.

  • Cincinnatus

    Given that I’ve dedicated my career to the study of political phenomena, I’m quite aware that politics merit attention. That doesn’t change the fact that the people who choose to devote themselves to the “service” our our polis are frauds, liars, hypocrites, and thieves.

  • Cincinnatus

    Given that I’ve dedicated my career to the study of political phenomena, I’m quite aware that politics merit attention. That doesn’t change the fact that the people who choose to devote themselves to the “service” our our polis are frauds, liars, hypocrites, and thieves.

  • SKPeterson

    Porcell – Rivlin and Domenici are adults; adults who were participants in creating this mess and should have known better. I suspect that they did know better, but what is politician for but to create a mess and then propose a solution to clean it up?

    My only other quibble is with your addition of Lincoln to a list of great statesmen. He is not in the same league as a Washington or Jefferson or Henry. I’m not sure Lincoln was entirely a hack, but he was a deadly and devastating politician. Historically, it was during his administration when the rot around the roots of the Constitution started. Then again, I think the Constitution was a mistake that we’re paying for now …

  • SKPeterson

    Porcell – Rivlin and Domenici are adults; adults who were participants in creating this mess and should have known better. I suspect that they did know better, but what is politician for but to create a mess and then propose a solution to clean it up?

    My only other quibble is with your addition of Lincoln to a list of great statesmen. He is not in the same league as a Washington or Jefferson or Henry. I’m not sure Lincoln was entirely a hack, but he was a deadly and devastating politician. Historically, it was during his administration when the rot around the roots of the Constitution started. Then again, I think the Constitution was a mistake that we’re paying for now …

  • collie

    Cincinnatus@18, two questions, if you care to opine:
    1 – How do we get more “Statesmen” to serve and
    2 – Do you think term limits for senators and congressional representatives would be good?

    SK@19, that’s quite a statement: “I think the Constitution was a mistake. . .”
    From the perspective of hindsight, we can see some of the weaknesses of this document, (an obvious one, to me, is the failure to outlaw slavery) but would really like to hear about a better governing system; maybe you’ve discussed it before and I’ve missed it? and, How do we get our Republic back?

  • collie

    Cincinnatus@18, two questions, if you care to opine:
    1 – How do we get more “Statesmen” to serve and
    2 – Do you think term limits for senators and congressional representatives would be good?

    SK@19, that’s quite a statement: “I think the Constitution was a mistake. . .”
    From the perspective of hindsight, we can see some of the weaknesses of this document, (an obvious one, to me, is the failure to outlaw slavery) but would really like to hear about a better governing system; maybe you’ve discussed it before and I’ve missed it? and, How do we get our Republic back?

  • collie

    revision – *failure by our foundersto outlaw slavery*

  • collie

    revision – *failure by our foundersto outlaw slavery*

  • SKPeterson

    @collie – the original Articles of Confederation we operated under after independence are better in my estimation. I’ve said so before, and I do understand the rationale for the Constitution, but I think many of the criticisms and predictions leveled by the Anti-Federalists were spot on. The designed checks and balances placed in the Constitution to limit the ability of men to reward themselves at the public expense and impose tyranny have been circumvented by the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” style of politics as a means of ignoring those checks and limits. If no one in government is serious about adhering to the checks and balances, then what good are they? The Articles are not/ were not perfect, but they did limit “contagion” — for example, California has made a horrible mess of its finances to the point of effective bankruptcy, yet it is likely that people in Wyoming will get to pick up a portion of the tab, due to a “Constitutional” Congressional action that will provide federal loan guarantees to California or outright subsidies and debt forgiveness (or to Michigan a la GM and Chrysler, or New York a la Goldman Sachs). I hope this doesn’t occur, but we now have a Constitutional system that allows Congress to act like Prince John and pretend to be Robin Hood and believes that this is the best situation possible.

  • SKPeterson

    @collie – the original Articles of Confederation we operated under after independence are better in my estimation. I’ve said so before, and I do understand the rationale for the Constitution, but I think many of the criticisms and predictions leveled by the Anti-Federalists were spot on. The designed checks and balances placed in the Constitution to limit the ability of men to reward themselves at the public expense and impose tyranny have been circumvented by the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” style of politics as a means of ignoring those checks and limits. If no one in government is serious about adhering to the checks and balances, then what good are they? The Articles are not/ were not perfect, but they did limit “contagion” — for example, California has made a horrible mess of its finances to the point of effective bankruptcy, yet it is likely that people in Wyoming will get to pick up a portion of the tab, due to a “Constitutional” Congressional action that will provide federal loan guarantees to California or outright subsidies and debt forgiveness (or to Michigan a la GM and Chrysler, or New York a la Goldman Sachs). I hope this doesn’t occur, but we now have a Constitutional system that allows Congress to act like Prince John and pretend to be Robin Hood and believes that this is the best situation possible.

  • SKPeterson

    @collie #21 – was this directed to me? Slavery was and is a moral evil, unfortunately practiced by every people every where. The Constitution did fail to eliminate slavery under the implicit assumption that Congress would address the matter in the near future. Didn’t happen. Instead we got Dred Scott and the Fugitive Slave Act. Under the Articles, non-slave states would not have been compelled to return runaway slaves. Also, the northern states would not have been able to impose exorbitant tariffs and imposts on southern states’ exports and imports. Nothing supports maintaining slavery like higher tax costs on production; need to control costs to make it by? Lower your labor costs by keeping slaves. Would the States have ended slavery under the Articles? I can answer, yes, but I couldn’t tell you when, but probably by the end of the 19th century like it did in other slave owning countries (look at Brazil as an example) without resort to a destructive war.

  • SKPeterson

    @collie #21 – was this directed to me? Slavery was and is a moral evil, unfortunately practiced by every people every where. The Constitution did fail to eliminate slavery under the implicit assumption that Congress would address the matter in the near future. Didn’t happen. Instead we got Dred Scott and the Fugitive Slave Act. Under the Articles, non-slave states would not have been compelled to return runaway slaves. Also, the northern states would not have been able to impose exorbitant tariffs and imposts on southern states’ exports and imports. Nothing supports maintaining slavery like higher tax costs on production; need to control costs to make it by? Lower your labor costs by keeping slaves. Would the States have ended slavery under the Articles? I can answer, yes, but I couldn’t tell you when, but probably by the end of the 19th century like it did in other slave owning countries (look at Brazil as an example) without resort to a destructive war.

  • collie

    SK @ 23, yes I was clarifying my point about one weakness of the Constitution that first sprang to mind. Thank you for pointing me to the Articles of Confederation; it’s been awhile since I studied U.S. history. (a few decades!)
    So much commentary out there tends to suggest that we were at the high-water mark, in terms of liberty at the signing of our constitution. Appreciate your insights.

  • collie

    SK @ 23, yes I was clarifying my point about one weakness of the Constitution that first sprang to mind. Thank you for pointing me to the Articles of Confederation; it’s been awhile since I studied U.S. history. (a few decades!)
    So much commentary out there tends to suggest that we were at the high-water mark, in terms of liberty at the signing of our constitution. Appreciate your insights.

  • Porcell

    Actually, the brightest of the founders understood that the Articles were a weak form of American government that allowed states to fracture American power, much to the benefit of European powers.

    Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, Adams, Cushing, et al crafted a constitution that created a federal system with a strong federal government along with certain state’s rights. This constitution is acknowledged by most analysts to have been quite well conceived.

    The fact that weak willed contemporary Americans have allowed the federal government to become an evil colossus says more about us than the founders.

  • Porcell

    Actually, the brightest of the founders understood that the Articles were a weak form of American government that allowed states to fracture American power, much to the benefit of European powers.

    Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, Adams, Cushing, et al crafted a constitution that created a federal system with a strong federal government along with certain state’s rights. This constitution is acknowledged by most analysts to have been quite well conceived.

    The fact that weak willed contemporary Americans have allowed the federal government to become an evil colossus says more about us than the founders.


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