On August 3, in the Library of Economics and Liberty, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel argued persuasively that the U.S. may be running out of options on its debt. Hummel says that the U.S. is more likely to default on its debt than to simply inflate it away; he suggests that when “faced with the alternatives of seeing both the dollar and the debt become worthless or defaulting on the debt while saving the dollar, the U.S. government will choose the latter.” These options are both terrifying and unnecessary if politicians would only summon an ounce of courage.
There is only one solution. Spending must be cut. A good start would be to select federal programs that have no constitutional basis and terminate them or pass them to the states. The Constitution explicitly provides for only a few pieces of the federal government. These include Congress, the president and his staff, and the Supreme Court and inferior federal courts. Article I Section 8 or other parts of the Constitution imply departments of Defense, Treasury, Commerce, State, and Justice. The Constitution also provides for the USPS, a patent office, the District of Columbia, a census bureau, and possibly the Federal Elections Commission. That’s it.
Other departments of the federal government have no basis in the Constitution, including those of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security (though parts could be justified in the DOD and DOJ), Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Interior, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs (which should be run by the DOD). These departments should all be candidates for massive budget cuts or termination.
The following small programs, accompanied here by brief descriptions from their websites, have no constitutional basis.
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation: The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is an independent federal agency that promotes the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of our nation’s historic resources, and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy.
This just plain isn’t mentioned in the constitution.
African Development Foundation: The United States African Development Foundation provides grants of up to $250,000 to community groups and small enterprises that benefit under served and marginalized groups in Africa.
It speaks volumes that your government cannot foresee a balanced budget for the next few decades, but still manages to borrow money from China to lend to Africa.
National Endowment for the Arts: The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education.
The Constitution protects artists; it doesn’t pay them. Artists have the protection of patent law so they can attempt to make it on their own, with talent. The NEA subsidizes those who may or may not be any good.
The Office of Government Ethics: In partnership with executive branch agencies and departments, OGE fosters high ethical standards for employees and strengthens the public’s confidence that the Government’s business is conducted with impartiality and integrity.
This agency is obviously not working.
If you’re reading this, tell your federal officials that you want them to cut spending. Tell them that your state will take care of its own welfare and that you would prefer that the federal government work within its constitutional boundaries. Tell them you can handle the responsibility of your own health care, retirement, and charity to foreign nations. It’s your money they’re spending-tell them you want it back.