Is anyone surprised that the Congressional deficit cutting, so-called "Super Committee," turned into a super dud?
It was as predictable as the changing of the seasons.
There are several systemic flaws with Congress. Our founders knew this and built in several limiting characteristics.
Over time, these limitations have been eliminated. Presently, the lawmaking branch of government is limited only by the self-restraint of its members and the intolerance of the voters.
All men, no matter how good, are tempted by power. Our founders knew instinctively, as well as through in depth study of history, what Lord Acton later said quite succinctly. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
There are several reasons why Congress was divided into a House of Representatives and a Senate. Chief among them was to have one chamber to directly represent the interests of the people and another chamber to represent the interests of the states. Interests that are often in conflict.
It took about five minutes for the first members of the House of Representatives, who stand for election every two years, to learn that it is much easier to get re-elected if you give stuff to the voters. Senators, who were elected by their state legislators, had to make their state governments happy to keep their jobs.
Originally, there was no need for term limits. Since there was no direct taxation, Congressmen were limited on what they could give their voters and less able to buy their seats in Congress.
Any Senator who voted for an "unfunded mandate," a law requiring the states to do things at their own expense, or otherwise gave away goodies at the expense of the state would be gone from office in five minutes. Moreover, as state legislators switched back and forth between political parties, Senators would be replaced.
The 19th Century gave rise to many "great movements," which came to fruition in the 20th Century. Among them were the temperance movement (the 18th Amendment -- Prohibition), women's suffrage (the 19th Amendment), and populism (the 16th Amendment -- direct federal taxation, and the 17th Amendment -- the direct election of Senators).
Now, due to the 17th Amendment, Senators retain their seats the same way as Congressmen do; giving goodies from the federal treasury to their voters. Thanks to the 16th Amendment (combined with the 17th), the members of both chambers of Congress have a tremendous incentive to find ways to take our money through taxation and then give a portion of it back to us as electoral goodies.
When Bill Clinton became President in 1993, our national debt was $5 trillion. Now it is $15 trillion. If you count off budget items such as Social Security, Medicaid, etc., our national debt is more than $65 trillion. Yet, Congress can't figure out how to cut $1.4 trillion spread out over 10 years (which will never actually happen anyway since Congress makes new spending laws every year and are not bound by the commitments of any previous Congress).
If there is one thing that Democrats and Republicans are united on, getting re-elected is more important than saving the nation. If you take even $10 of goodies from a potential voter, that voter is likely to vote for the other guy.
Now that more than 50 percent of all Americans receive cash or other "benefits," from the federal government, how do you cut spending without virtually guaranteeing you lose your next election?
In a nation of more over-taxed people, how do you raise taxes without guaranteeing you lose your next election?
Invading barbarians don't destroy nations and empires. Fiscal disaster is the invitation sent out to the barbarous hordes. Is it me, or does it seem like the invitations are already in the mail?