| December 1, 2010

Fed-Up Americans Must Demand Federal Spending Restraint

I have devoted more than 30 years of my life to promoting liberty and free enterprise.

When I joined the board of trustees of The Heritage Foundation in 1978, it was plainly evident that our nation’s leadership was morally and fiscally bankrupt. Liberal policies had nearly destroyed our economy. Unemployment and inflation were skyrocketing. Americans had lost confidence in our government and pride in our nation.

Heritage was launched in 1973 to promote the virtues of free enterprise, liberty, and individual initiative. Hundreds of Heritage’s economic, domestic, and foreign policy ideas were adopted by President Reagan during his administration. Ideas that got our economy growing, put Americans back to work, and re-elevated the idea of American exceptionalism.

Today, Heritage is known as “the beast” of public policy think tanks and is on the frontlines in the daily battle for freedom and limited government.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs was founded in 1993 with the same goals of advancing free enterprise, cultivating limited government, encouraging individual initiative, and educating the public on conservative, free-market ideas right here in Oklahoma.

For 17 years, OCPA has been on the frontlines of that battle in Oklahoma. Our research has provided some of the ammunition which enabled Oklahoma to get a “Right to Work” law passed and to get the state income tax reduced. This year, our work helped pave the way for the first ever school-choice scholarships in Oklahoma.

But so much work remains. Dr. Rufus Fears, a renowned author and professor of classics at the University of Oklahoma, teaches that one primary reason superpowers—including both the Roman and British empires—fail is because of overspending and debt.

Today, our federal government is operating with a $1.5 trillion budget deficit. Our federal debt is now close to $14 trillion.

Federal spending matters because our very freedom is at stake.

As Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said recently, “Never take a dollar from a free citizen through the coercion of taxation without a very legitimate purpose. We have a solemn duty to spend that dollar as carefully as possible, because when we took it we diminished that person’s freedom.”

A cap on federal spending is vital. Research by The Heritage Foundation has shown that a cap on federal spending could balance the budget and eliminate the deficit in just a few years.

Unfortunately, Congress has proven that it is incapable of exercising fiscal restraint. So it is up to you and me to take action. The fields are ripe for harvest.

In 2009 and 2010, a groundswell of anger among Americans turned political theory on its head. The Tea Party movement is neither Republican nor Democrat—it is conservative. Americans are fed up with out-of-control federal spending and government overreach into every corner of our private lives.

All across the nation, ordinary Americans are re-reading the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. They are reading the words of our founding fathers, and they are rediscovering the original purpose and intent for our nation.

They are learning that the federal government was intended to be one of very limited powers enumerated in the Constitution. As the 10th Amendment makes explicitly clear, the rest of the power was given to the states and to the citizens.

It is time to take back our country and send a message to the career politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. that they serve us, not the other way around.

A cap in real dollars on all government spending based on 2007 spending levels would be an excellent solution. This would force Congress to allocate finite dollars to the most advantageous use. In addition, it would force fiscal responsibility and/or the elimination on hundreds and hundreds of government programs. Would this cause pain? Yes, but much less pain than bankruptcy would cause. The present Ponzi scheme, a la Bernie Madoff, would end.

The time is now. I intend to spread this message to every person, organization, and politician I know. I ask you to do the same.

As we embark on another year in the trenches, we remain committed to the battle to limit government intrusion and to expand free enterprise and liberty for all Oklahomans. Your support is vital to our success, and I hope you will remain committed to OCPA as we move forward.

David R. Brown, M.D. is OCPA’s founder and chairman. He serves as honorary chairman and trustee emeritus of The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., which he served as chairman from 1992 to 2009.

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