In 2006 the republican party controls the central government of America, and government spending is rising rapidly. Much of the increased spending appears to be wasteful and corrupt attempts to buy votes and reward campaign contributors. People who voted republican because they expected the republican party to restrain government spending are disillusioned.
There have been previous attempts to control government spending by passing laws giving various government officials the power to reduce government spending by reducing spending after the government has passed the budget. The most recent was the line item veto. The supreme court has ruled that such measures are unconstitutional because changing laws after the laws are passed is equivalent to amending or repealing the laws. The government cannot delegate the power to make, amend, or repeal laws. These powers must remain with those officials to whom the powers are assigned by the constitution.
The solution is to give government officials the power to reduce spending BEFORE the budget is passed. Currently the house and senate pass different budgets. Then a conference committee reconciles the differences between the two budgets, and the modified, reconciled budget is voted on again by both the house and the senate. The government could create an independent commission on government waste, with several members serving long, staggered terms. After the budget was reconciled, the commission on government waste would remove wasteful government spending from the budget, and then the budget would be voted on by the house and senate. Congress would still have final approval over the budget, and congress could reject the budget if congress did not approve of the actions of the committee on government waste. This would be constitutional because the constitution gives congress the power to regulate itself, including the power to make rules about how laws are drafted, debated, and amended prior to the final vote on the law.
Many members of congress would oppose such a measure because they need to be able to fund specific projects within their districts to prove that they are concerned with the problems of their districts, and to prove that they are accomplishing something. Members of congress agree to support other members' pet projects if other members agree to support their pet projects. The final result is pet projects for every members. Therefore, why not rationalize the process by allocating a part of the budget to each member of congress? One tenth of the budget could be allocated to the senate and one tenth of the budget could be allocated to the house, so each senator would receive .2% of the budget, and each representative would receive .02% of the budget.
Or the whole budget could be allocated this way, so that the president, senate, and house would each receive one third of the budget, and the only part of the budget which would be voted on would be the total amount. But this is probably too radical to pass.
Each member of congress could spend their budget on whatever they wish. No other government official would have any control over their budget. Currently, it is difficult to say exactly which government official is to blame for which wasted dollar. By giving each member of congress their own budget, we would know exactly who was to blame for each wasted dollar.
We could also give members of congress no salary and no benefits. Each member of congress could pay themselves from their budget. Voters could demand that candidates pledge to pay themselves no more than a typical salary for their district.
Currently members of congress can direct government spending to their districts more easily than they can direct tax cuts to their district. Thus politicians who buy votes through government spending have an unfair advantage over politicians who buy votes through tax cuts. Members of congress should be allowed to use their budget to provide tax cuts to their district instead of spending their budget. Residents of their district would then pay less taxes than residents of other districts. This would give politicians who favor tax cuts a fair chance to compete with politicians who favor increased government spending.
If congress refuses to reform, the president could still reduce wasteful government spending unilaterally. If congress budgets money for some project, the president is required to spend that money on that project. It is unconstitutional for the president to refuse to spend that money on the project. But the president is not expected to personally spend that money on that project. The president is expected to give the money to some lesser government official and command that lesser government official to spend that money on that project. Suppose congress budgets money for a dust bunny museum. Suppose the president gives the money to the state's governor with instructions to establish the dust bunny museum. Suppose the state's governor instead uses the money for education or health care. The president has fulfilled his duty to the constitution and to the congress, and the governor is not accountable to the congress.
Elsewhere I have said that taxes should be abolished, and that the government should require everyone to pay part of their income to public service organizations, and that services traditionally provided by governments should be provided by the public service organizations. I think that would be the best way to eliminate wasteful government spending, because people would give money to public service organizations which did not waste money. But that scheme is too radical for some people. I think the scheme which I have described here is less good, but more acceptable to other people. This scheme does not require any changes to the constitution.