APRIL 24, 2015 -- On the front page of the Wall Street Journal (4/20/15) Republicans debate: " over the path to return the GOP to the White House " which really boils down to which wing of the party is the most conservative.
I learned to be a conservative when first elected to the SC House of Representatives in 1948. In 1948, House Rule 34 prescribed that any spending bill must contain a certificate from the Controller (now Rule 5.3, Budget and Control Board) stating that the spending therein is provided for by the estimated revenues. If not, the spending bill was returned to the Ways and Means Committee.
of South Carolina in 1960, I raised taxes and obtained a Triple-A Credit
Rating for South Carolina, which it maintains today. Since 2001, neither
Republicans nor Democrats in Congress can call themselves "conservative".
In fact lobbyist Grover Norquist receives a pledge against being a "conservative"
- against taxes. The only other way to pay for government is to amend
an established law.
President Clinton submitted a budget to cut spending and an increase in
energy taxes. Senators' Tom Daschle, David Boren and the farmers killed
the energy tax and we were left out on the floor of the Senate with Gene
Sperling trying to raise taxes on income, liquor, cigarettes, Social Security,
etc. Finally, Congress cut spending $250 billion and raised taxes $250
billion. House Republican Whip Newt Gingrich prevented us Democrats from
getting a single Republican vote in the House or Senate - starting gridlock.
Court in Buckley vs. Valeo reversed Congress's ability to limit
spending by equating "spending" with "speech". Taking
a poll, hiring a consultant, renting a headquarters are spending, not
speech. Walk into a TV station and tell the manager you want your free
speech and you'll find yourself outside on the sidewalk. Congress has
tried for thirty years to repair Buckley with McCain Feingold,
public financing, and even a Constitutional amendment empowering Congress
to limit or control spending in federal elections. But the Constitutional
amendment only received a bipartisan majority vote, not the two thirds
required for a Joint Resolution to pass Congress. Before Buckley, Republican
and Democrat Senators partied together; traveled together. After Buckley,
Senators started raising money against each other; partisanship set in
and with Gingrich, gridlock.
gave President George W. Bush a balanced budget in 2001. But President
Bush cut taxes, started wars, added prescription drugs to Medicare, stimulated
and bailed out - all without paying for them. Not receiving Republican
support in 1993 to balance the budget, the Democrats weren't about to
help President Bush pay for government. The United States paid for all
its wars, depressions, recessions, etc. and it took over two hundred years
for the nation to incur a national debt of $1 trillion in 1981. President
Bush increased the national debt $5 trillion in eight years. Now, President
Obama has increased the national debt $7 trillion in six years. The rich
United States is borrowing a half trillion dollars a year to keep the
Clinton is willing to amend the Constitution to regulate unaccountable
contributions in politics. She's thinking of the Citizens United case
wherein the Supreme Court allowed unaccountable contributions by corporations.
Why not amend the Constitution for what Congress voted for in 1971, 1973
- limiting spending in elections. It's because Congress doesn't want to
lose its advantage in fundraising.
and Democrats in Congress have an advantage in fundraising. Located amidst
10,000 lobbyists in Washington, House members have two years and Senator's
six years to fundraise morning, noon and night. For the seventh time to
be elected to the U.S. Senate, I raised and spent $8.5 million. This factors
out to $27,000 a week, each week for six years. Today, a contested race
for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina would cost $12-$15 million. As a
result of the fundraising, lobbyists today have taken over control of
the government. Lobbyists even tell the Speaker or Leader when to call
a vote. That's why Congress can't get a vote on gun control, immigration,
amend the Constitution to empower Congress to: "limit or control
spending in federal elections". Once empowered, fundraising will
be limited, partisanship will be limited, gridlock will be broken, lobbyists
will be limited and Congress can take control of the government. Instead
of working for themselves fundraising, Congress can go back to working
for the government.
Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).
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