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A dear friend called me the other day in tears. He broke up with his longtime girlfriend and wanted me to read his note to her ending the relationship. Here it is:

Dear Congress,

Breaking up is hard to do … but I gotta be honest: I don’t love you anymore. I loved you once, and you will always be part of my life.

This is all the harder because we go way back. I’ve been to your house several times. Your family seems nice, smart and accomplished. You don’t get a seat in those hallowed chambers by being a goofball — well, not usually.

I revere the content of your birth document, the Constitution. I’ve studied it a lot. It seems like you forgot that the states, as sovereign entities, created the federal government as a co-equal, not superior entity. States reserved to themselves all powers not specifically granted the federal government, thereby carefully limiting Congress’ powers to those enumerated and nothing more. What could go wrong?

The Founders gave you some flexibility in a tight little clause, “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.” It sounded so necessary and proper. Nothing scary there, right? Oh, yeah! Big trouble!

Under the innocent-sounding “necessary and proper” banner, you multiplied your powers far in excess of the states’ and founders’ intent. Let’s be honest: Congress’ power has metastasized like a cancerous tumor. And what about the states? You have run over them like little kids with nary a nod to state sovereignty and co-equality.

Courts helped you become the big dog on the block, with another innocuous-sounding Section 8 power, “To regulate Commerce … among the several States.” Sounded like a good idea then, and when properly used, it still is. But, you and the courts drove semis and railroads through the “interstate commerce clause” and expanded your jurisdiction exponentially.

I know, I know. You and some presidents felt like you had to stretch things during great crises like the Civil War and the Depression.

Hey, I readily admit that some states actively blocked basic constitutional protections against racial discrimination, school segregation and race-based voting rights. Most states also failed to address important issues like health care, safety net programs and the environment. Their inaction on these critical issues was just too tempting for you to pass up.

You ask, would we have Social Security if it had been left to the states? No, but that doesn’t mean other solutions wouldn’t have been invented. We also wouldn’t have multiple uncapped federal entitlement programs, which are breaking the bank and play a significant role in perpetuating poverty. In the process, you’ve exhausted the treasury of this grand nation for these programs and made no, nada, zip, zero net change in the percentage of our citizens in poverty. Your intentions were laudable, compassionate even. But when you violate the fundamental principles of your very founding document, what can you expect other than federal overreach, government inefficiency and perpetuated dependency?

But here’s what pushed me over the edge. You flouted the Constitution and the most basic law of economics in how you spent our money. You’ve driven our national debt to $20 trillion in 2017. By 2027 that will grow to $30 trillion. Our entire 2016 GDP was only $18.5 trillion. Indeed, military leaders see this economic vulnerability as a huge threat to our national security.

11 comments on this story

The obvious thing, the only responsible thing to do now is to reduce expenditures and raise taxes to climb out of this giant hole we’re in. Right? Nope. You did the opposite. You raised expenditures by nearly $400 billion the next two years and lowered taxes by $500 billion annually, leaving us with an annual deficit of over nearly $1 trillion a year. As much as I hope the stimulus to the economy will pay for the tax cuts, most reputable economists aren’t buying it.

Utah’s delegation likely agrees with most of what I’m saying. But nothing seems to change.

I get that your party leaders rule the roost; but they’ve taken you down the wrong path. Lots of other guys feel this same way about you. No election, no party, no worthy cause, no committee assignment is worth bankrupting this great nation.