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My Plan for a Freedom President: How I Would Put the Constitution Back in the Oval Office - Page 2 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Ron Paul   
Friday, 05 March 2010 06:06

A president could also enhance the liberties and security of the American people by ordering federal agencies to stop snooping on citizens when there is no evidence that those who are being spied on have committed a crime. Instead, the president should order agencies to refocus on the legitimate responsibilities of the federal government, such as border security. He should also order the Transportation Security Administration to stop strip-searching grandmothers and putting toddlers on the no-fly list. The way to keep Americans safe is to focus on real threats and ensure that someone whose own father warns U.S. officials he's a potential terrorist is not allowed to board a Christmas Eve flight to Detroit with a one-way ticket.

Perhaps the most efficient step a president could take to enhance travel security is to remove the federal roadblocks that have frustrated attempts to arm pilots. Congress created provisions to do just that in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. However, the processes for getting a federal firearms license are extremely cumbersome, and as a result very few pilots have gotten their licenses. A constitutionalist in the Oval Office would want to revise those regulations to make it as easy as possible for pilots to get approval to carry firearms on their planes.

While the president can do a great deal on his own, to really restore the Constitution and cut back on the vast unconstitutional programs that have sunk roots in Washington over 60 years, he will have to work with Congress. The first step in enacting a pro-freedom legislative agenda is the submission of a budget that outlines the priorities of the administration. While it has no legal effect, the budget serves as a guideline for the congressional appropriations process. A constitutionalist president's budget should do the following:

1) Reduce overall federal spending;

2) Prioritize cuts in oversize expenditures, especially the military;

3) Prioritize cuts in corporate welfare;

4) Use 50 percent of the savings from cuts in overseas spending to shore up entitlement programs for those who are dependent on them and the other 50 percent to pay down the debt;

5) Provide for reduction in federal bureaucracy and lay out a plan to return responsibility for education to the states; and

6) Begin transitioning entitlement programs from a system where all Americans are forced to participate into one where taxpayers can opt out of the programs and make their own provisions for retirement and medical care.

If Congress failed to produce a budget that was balanced and that moved the country in a pro-liberty direction, a constitutionalist president should veto the bill. Of course, vetoing the budget risks a government shutdown. But a serious constitutionalist cannot be deterred by cries of "It's irresponsible to shut down the government!" Instead, he should simply say: "I offered a reasonable compromise, which was to gradually reduce spending, and Congress rejected it, instead choosing the extreme path of continuing to jeopardize America's freedom and prosperity by refusing to tame the welfare-warfare state. I am the moderate; those who believe that America can afford this bloated government are the extremists."

Unconstitutional government spending, after all, is doubly an evil: It not only means picking the taxpayer's pocket; it also means subverting the system of limited and divided government that the Founders created. Just look at how federal spending has corrupted American education.

Eliminating federal involvement in K-12 education should be among a constitutionalist president's top domestic priorities. The Constitution makes no provision for federal meddling in education. It is hard to think of a function less suited to a centralized, bureaucratic approach than education. The very idea that a group of legislators and bureaucrats in D.C. can design a curriculum capable of meeting the needs of every American schoolchild is ludicrous. The deteriorating performance of our schools as federal control over the classroom has grown shows the folly of giving Washington more power over American education. President Bush's No Child Left Behind law claimed it would fix education by making public schools "accountable." However, supporters of the law failed to realize that making schools more accountable to federal agencies, instead of to parents, was just perpetuating the problem.

In the years since No Child Left Behind was passed, I don't think I have talked to any parent or teacher who is happy with the law. Therefore, a constitutionalist president looking for ways to improve the lives of children should demand that Congress cut the federal education bureaucracy as a down payment on eventually returning 100 percent of the education dollar to parents.

Traditionally, the battle to reduce the federal role in education has been the toughest one faced by limited-government advocates, as supporters of centralized education have managed to paint constitutionalists as "anti-education." But who is really anti-education? Those who wish to continue to waste taxpayer money on failed national schemes, or those who want to restore control over education to the local level? When the debate is framed this way, I have no doubt the side of liberty will win. When you think about it, the argument that the federal government needs to control education is incredibly insulting to the American people, for it implies that the people are too stupid or uncaring to educate their children properly. Contrary to those who believe that only the federal government can ensure children's education, I predict a renaissance in education when parents are put back in charge.