What a Serious New Congress Must Do

What a Serious New Congress Must Do
The Capitol Building in Washington on Jan. 30, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Jeffrey A. Tucker

Let’s say that all the predictions come true and the Republicans sweep both the House and Senate in November, plus gain effective political control of most states. The presidency then becomes the main tool controlled by the Democrats.

This will be a very satisfying rebuke of "woke" politics and possibly signal a much-needed and fundamental realignment in American political life.

The problem immediately becomes: What should be done? President Joe Biden will veto any legislation coming out of Congress. That’s a given. And he will still have the power of the pen to continue to issue executive orders just like he has done for two years. He will still sit atop the vast administrative state—the beast that rules the swamp—that is the true bane of the country today.

A legitimate worry is that the new Congress will be so thrilled at its victories, and so focused on 2024, that it will be overly careful in its legislative agenda, concerned that anything it does will be held against the GOP in the next national elections. This would be a huge error because it will leave the impression that it's politics as usual, just under a different label.

A new poll shows that most Americans correctly blame Washington for the unfolding disaster.

“This is the first time ever in the history of Monmouth polling that the share of Americans blaming Washington for making their chief concern worse has climbed above 50 percent," The Epoch Times reported. "Prior polls saw that figure vary between 34 percent and 47 percent.”

The GOP will have an opportunity to signal to the country that it's super serious about change, making its philosophical and ideological loyalties as plain as day and giving the American people a genuine choice.

With congressional control, and also with new momentum in states across the country, it can take on only a limited number of issues that are massively important for the future of this country.

It should start with real commissions with subpoena power to get to the bottom of the issue that has so wrecked American life as we know it: the pandemic response. The main areas to investigate are the virus origins, the capture of the Food and Drug Administration by Big Pharma, the preposterous and totalitarian public-health response including unnecessary school closures, the absence of concern for economic effects, and the role of Big Media and Big Tech in amplifying the dystopian nightmare imposed by the administrative state.

Real hearings on these topics could go on for two years. It's absolutely necessary, since no aspect of American life was untouched by the pandemic response. There's no reason why the land of the free couldn't have at least adopted the light-touch approach of Sweden, the policies of which have been so thoroughly vindicated by events. Moreover, there is a reason why Florida is booming economically along with most other red states, while blue states are losing residents and capital investment by the day.

We have here a perfect experiment in freedom versus control, and it should be obvious which has won the day.

The main problem to tackle is why the blue state response to the virus came to be the preferred way of the federal government, in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the FDA, and basically every other agency in Washington adopted policies that aren't only contrary to the idea of freedom but directly contradict the Bill of Rights.

This is a massive scandal and needs deep and thorough investigation. This should include detailed testimony from the bureaucrats and private-sector actors who enabled this disaster, and also allow dissident scientists to speak. Those who have been censored for the better part of two and a half years must be allowed to tell the American people the truth.

The response also divided Americans by class and profession in extremely vicious ways. It wrecked two years of education. It prompted a wholly unnecessary demographic upheaval as millions fled locked-down states for freer lands in Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, the Dakotas, and Georgia. It's also responsible for the most irresponsible spending binge in U.S. history.

In the first quarter of 2020, in the midst of a wild panic, federal government spending soared by 85 percent, much of which landed in sketchy ways and provided a kind of subsidy to the growth-killing lockdowns, so that they would continue despite very obvious evidence that they were achieving nothing in terms of pandemic control.

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

What’s also striking is how this directly caused the raging inflation that is pillaging the value of savings and the capital stock even now. While the supply chain breakages were bad enough, and caused unrelenting chaos in economic life, Congress must take a careful look at Federal Reserve policies that enabled this bout of fiscal insanity.

What you have below is a chart of current expenditures shown quarter by quarter alongside the debt held by Federal Reserve Banks. This chart shows exactly what happened. Congress spent the money, the Treasury Department created the debt, and the Federal Reserve bought the debt with newly printed money, resulting in the inflation we see all around us. The Fed’s balance sheet is now out of control. This problem is nowhere near being solved.

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

Keep in mind, too, that Republicans' hands are far from clean in the unfolding of events. The White House under Donald Trump pushed hard for this spending, even to the point of denouncing the lone dissenter in the House (Thomas Massie) and everyone just turned a blind eye as the Fed cranked up the money printing. This was a disastrous policy, and the reality needs to be confronted with bravery if we are ever to get back on track.

The Constitution very wisely grants Congress control of the purse. It must use that to do something that's hardly spoken about anymore. Congress needs to impose radical budget cuts. And not just cuts. It needs to go the full way and start completely defunding agencies that have been responsible for so much disaster in America today. That includes the CDC, the NIH, HHS, and so many more of the three-letter agencies that rule government today.

Here’s a suggestion. New members of Congress need to go on a walking tour of D.C. Any building with the name “Agency,” “Department,” or “Bureau” should be put on a list and targeted for dramatic cuts or elimination completely. Among them, very obviously, should be the Department of Education, which pushed school closures. Listen to that department's former chief, Betsy DeVos: She has wisely pointed out that the only way to control this agency is to abolish it completely.

The budget cuts need to be huge and principled, and the idea of “limited government” needs to make a big comeback. One of Trump’s most popular promises was to “drain the swamp.” The only sure way to do that is by slashing federal spending. Cutting the funding pipeline is the only real way to get through to these people that we are a country that exalts freedom over command and control.

It’s true that Biden will veto all these proposed new budgets. But at least the GOP will be on record as being willing to do what is necessary to save the country. It’s also the only real way to defang the administrative state. To my knowledge, the last Republicans who spoke as a party about the need for dramatic spending cuts date back by 30 to 40 years ago. This entire agenda needs to come back. And they can't exclude the military budget.

There are sound reasons for this approach. It’s about saving the U.S. economy but it is also about saving education, culture, federalism, and the Constitution too. We can't rely on the courts to restrain the federal government. The ultimate answer is to attempt a good version of a great reset. Restore freedom as a first priority. That can't happen so long as the government is spending twice as much as it receives in taxes.

Suggestion: Set a spending target from the current $6 trillion to make it $3 trillion, or equal to current receipts. That would take us back to a federal budget that we had in 2008. Does anyone really believe that the federal government was too small back then?

Even better, go back to 1980 to a budget of $300 billion. In those days, Ronald Reagan was able to gain enormous political popularity by promising to cut the budget from that point. His budget director, David Stockman, did his best to help him keep the promise.

(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)
(Data: Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED], St. Louis Fed; Chart: Jeffrey A. Tucker)

Yes, such a program would be shocking, but times have changed. Vast swaths of the American public are fed up and ready to try the system set up by the Founding Fathers for a change. That's why Ron Paul in 2012 was so popular and why Trump’s promise to drain the swamp was so incredibly engaging in 2016. It’s a winning issue.

Let us hope that a new generation of political leaders in this country will no longer be intimidated by the hectoring and smearing of The New York Times and the censorship of Big Tech. We are long past that point. This is an emergency that cries out for bold leadership and dramatic change. Let’s find out precisely what has gone wrong, and take bold actions to fix it.

If a Republican Congress screws this up, it will be to their everlasting shame.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.