Five Constitutional Amendments to Fix the Federal Government

Here is a summary of five constitutional amendments to fix the federal government.

Before considering any constitutional amendments to fix the federal government, New York Times columnist David French said, “there’s another way to deal with this, which is called “Congress doing its job. We have a lot of deficiencies that can be corrected by Congress doing its job.  (National Constitution Center, New Amendments and the Future of Constitutional Reform, 6/1/2023)

True, but that is not happening. Time to stop tolerating this mess and change the ground rules.

Limit debt as a percent of GDP

Setting a limit on the size of the federal debt as a percent of the national economy allows flexibility to cover the unknown and recognizes that as the economy grows we can handle more debt, up to a point. What matters here is an external discipline that Congress cannot ignore. Everything else – the 1974 budget act, the budget committees, sequesters, PAYGO, budget caps, the debt limit, study commissions – start out with promise and end up being amended, waived, or simply abandoned. Are you happy paying $875.5 billion last year just for the interest on the federal debt and on track to pay $1 trillion this year?

Congressional term limits

Two 6-year terms for Senators and 6 two-year terms for Representatives. There are current members of Congress, usually in leadership positions, who have been there for 49 years, 47 years, 43 years. One Senate leader was in office for 57 years.  Valuable experience that produced incredible results, or out of touch residents in the land of status quo?

Public funding of federal campaigns

All federal campaigns funded with public dollars and private money banned. The current system is inherently corrupt. And, if terms are limited, members of Congress need to concentrate on getting the job done and not spending time raising money.

Flat tax

A flat percent tax on income, excluding current exemptions. This takes Congress out of the business of rewarding contributors and various groups with tax breaks and out of the business of favoring one industry over another.

Congressional bills that can be understood by reading the text alone

Most state constitutions require that state legislatures write bills showing proposed amendments in the context of existing law. That means legislators and citizens can read the bill and understand what it does. The federal constitution does not have a similar requirement, resulting in Congressional bill language like this:

“Section 156(a) of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 7272(a)) is amended—(A) by inserting ‘‘and’’ at the end of paragraph (3); (B) in paragraph (4), by striking ‘‘the 2011 crop year; and’’ and inserting ‘‘each of the 2011 through 2018 crop years.’’; and (C) by striking paragraph (5).”

Whether regulatory agencies are going beyond the law or not; whether judges are writing law or not; whether there is conflict and confusion – all of that starts with the terrible job Congress does in writing law. On what you might call a “voluntary” basis, Congress has been trying to fix this since the 1920’s. After 100 years, give or take, Congress is still trying. Not what you would call a high priority. Time to make it so, with an amendment like state’s have and the reform that must follow.

1 thought on “Five Constitutional Amendments to Fix the Federal Government”

  1. Solid agreement for public funding of federal campaigns to allow prospective candidates to focus on governance rather than fundraising. Yet, I am skeptical about the proposed flat tax – are we achieving simplicity at the cost of fairness? Keep the post coming! Looking forward to your next one sparking ideas and debates about solutions versus complaints about the status quo.
    P.S. Love you Papa! Great post. You know I don’t agree with everything here, but you make me think. Post again soon so we can debate the content at the next family event.

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