by Steve Palmer, Pennsylvania Tenth Amendment Center

“All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”, Lord Acton

We can rephrase Acton’s observation and apply it to today’s world by saying that the more power we grant to our elected officials, the more corrupt they will be.

In 1994, the republican candidates for the House of Representatives used their “Contract With America” as a campaign tool.  In this “contract”File:Odrzechowa-contract for sale 1549.jpg, along with other things, prospective representatives promised to implement these reforms on their first day in office.

  • FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
  • SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
  • THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
  • FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
  • FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
  • SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
  • SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
  • EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.

Do any of those promises even begin to resemble today’s reality?  In a 2000 issue of Forbes Magazine, Edward H. Crane, President of The Cato Institute declared that the Contract with America had failed.  Saying,

Consider: Over the past three years the Republican-controlled Congress has approved discretionary spending that exceeded Bill Clinton’s requests by more than $30 billion.  The party that in 1994 would abolish the Department of Education now brags in response to Clinton’s 2000 State of the Union Address that it is outspending the White House when it comes to education. (emphasis added)

The republicans who ran on a limited government platform became the new generation of spenders and central planners.  In both 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush campaign featured promises to reform Social Security by allowing citizens to own their own retirement savings. Saying things like,

We want to allow younger workers to take some of their own money & put it in safe inves