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The 10 Most Important US Government Reforms

There is always a great deal of discussion about government reforms around national elections during the campaign cycle, but of course it all fades away after the election is history. Campaign reform is a recurring theme, but all kinds of reforms are proposed repeatedly and swept aside once politicians are comfortably seated in office. What kinds of reforms would you like to see?

In a recent article called “Beyond the tea party: What Americans really think of government,” Jon Cohen and Dan Balz of the Washington Post state that roughly half of Americans support several reform related ideas such as national referendums required on major national issues (though they never define the phrase “national issues”), and that over 60% of Americans support a constitutionally mandated balanced budget. One of my personal favorite reform ideas is a proposal to adopt a 28th amendment to the US Constitution stating that “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to all United States Senators and [Congressional] Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and [Congressional] Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.”

I have also seen recommendations brought forward which propose that Congress should no longer be able to vote themselves pay raises (seems reasonable), and that term limits be established for Congressional Representatives and Senators (which seems very reasonable to me). I think term limits should also apply to judges, including Supreme Court Justices. This is not a monarchy; no one should be appointed for life. Other reforms that have been proposed but have never moved through the process successfully to be adopted into law include Devolution to States (This means that the Federal Government would close departs and agencies in most cases where policy is now federally controlled), the elimination of unfunded mandates (where the Federal Government requires that states undertake activities without providing any funding for them), the elimination of “block grants” (a process whereby the Federal Government just gives money to individual states with no restrictions or direction about how it will be spent), campaign finance reform limiting individual contributions, and contributions of organizations such as Political Action Committees to candidates running for political office).

So, what would you like to see? I will enumerate a “Top 10” listing of them for you here, and would love to hear what you think about each one; Would you vote for it, would you change it somehow, or do you think it would be worse, or a waste of time?

  1. Balanced Budget Amendment: Requires that the US Government spend no more than they take in from income taxes and other income each year.
  2. Equal Treatment: That no laws can be passed which do not apply equally to citizens, Congressional Representatives, and Senators.
  3. No Self-Appointed Pay Increases: That Congress will no longer be able to vote themselves pay raises.
  4. Term Limits for Congressional Representatives: 6 years has been recommended.
  5. Term Limits for Senators: 6 years has been recommended.
  6. Term Limits for Judges: I think 5 years is about right on this one.
  7. Devolution to States: Elimination or redistribution to individual States of all agencies not clearly defined as Federal in nature and/or truly critical to coordinate national level actions for security (like the Department of Defense, the FBI, the US Treasury.)
  8. Elimination of Unfunded Mandates: Actions required by the Federal Government to be undertaken by individual states without provision of federal funding.
  9. Elimination of Block Grants: Money given to individual states by the federal government without any guidance or restrictions.
  10. Campaign Donation Limits: Installing a limit on how much money can be donated to individual political candidates, and to political parties by any person, and by any organization.

Looking forward to your comments: What do you think?

4 Responses to “The 10 Most Important US Government Reforms”

  1. Marie Luft says:

    I agree with all of your recommendations … except, #3; if congress does not give themselves pay raises, then who would do that ? Also, on the compaign donation limits, it was upsetting to us when the supreme court allowed campaign contributions by corporations. It’s bad enough that congress is controlled by the lobbyists .. that makes it a double-whammy.

  2. Marie Luft says:

    I agree with all of your recommendations … except, #3; if congress does not give themselves pay raises, then who would do that ? Also, on the campaign donation limits, it was upsetting to us when the supreme court allowed campaign contributions by corporations. It’s bad enough that congress is controlled by the lobbyists .. that makes it a double-whammy.

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