Over the last several weeks, we saw a prime example of how our government is broken. A portion of the federal government shut down, the Coast Guard went without pay as they completed their dangerous missions, and Democrat Members of Congress refused to negotiate after several efforts and deals were offered.
It is clear that Congress and the federal government are broken. Something must be done to make our government operate more effectively, and I have a few ideas of how we can fix our broken system.
The United States is a country wholly unique in the world, and we have been ever since our Founding Fathers laid the groundwork for our great nation.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves,” and, “those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it.”
The guiding principle that underlies the American Democratic system is that the people, not the institutions, hold the ultimate power and authority. We entrust that power to our elected officials who then take the will of the people and craft it into laws that govern our daily lives, in a way that we want to be governed.
Seats in Congress belong to the American people, not any single person elected. Our Founding Fathers never expected individuals to make a career out of Congressional service.
It is for this very reason that I have once again proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would impose term limits on Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Term limits will allow us to keep fresh blood and ideas in the halls of Congress.
Elected officials who spend too much time in Washington become out of touch with what impacts the American people, and term limits would help prevent those in positions of power from becoming stale or biased in their views.
Also in an effort to make our government work, I have proposed another amendment to the Constitution, one that would require the federal government to abide by a balanced budget.
Every family in the United States knows the importance of balancing a household budget.
Businesses, states, counties, and cities must have a balanced budget. Why should the federal government of the most powerful nation in the world not have to play by the same rules?
We must stop passing debt down to future generations, and a balanced budget amendment would require is to address our nation’s spending issues right now.
I have felt so strongly about this that I have introduced a Balanced Budget Amendment at the start of every Congress since I was elected.
Operating in the red is no way to run a household or business, and it is no way to run a government.
These are two commonsense reforms that would help us reform and restore faith in our government. By enacting term limits and drafting a balanced budget, we can ensure that our leaders do not become complacent and finally rein in our national debt.
Thomas Jefferson also said, “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
Congress must continue to be responsible to the people who elected them and must not waste their labors through out-of-control spending.
We need term limits, we must balance the budget, and we must never give up on our efforts to form a “more perfect Union.”
Bradley Byrne is a member of U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.