Paul Jacob

The current Congress spent an extra $700,000,000,000, in broad daylight, to supposedly bail out the mortgage industry — or whatever — even though 70 percent of Americans opposed such a bailout. Why would we not expect them to ignore the public’s anger at taking a pay raise?

The federal government is out of control. None of those in a position of power are serious about reforming government. Not congressional Democrats. Not congressional Republicans.

And not Barack Obama. We heard a lot about “change” from the incoming administration, but Mr. Obama has quite clearly repeated the “old wisdom”: Spend big now, cut back later. If he cannot break that old vice — the vice that got us into this mess — why expect any new virtue?

Worst of all, there is no process for citizens to stand effectively against this Leviathan. Not like there is, anyway, in the 24 states and majority of U.S. localities with some process for voter initiative.

Through the initiative, mere citizens have sparked tax revolts, capped government spending, imposed term limits, blocked land grabs, and protected equal rights. Of course, misguided measures have passed, too. This only highlights the obvious: It is not that we always trust the wisdom of the voters, it’s just that we can trust them a whole lot more than we can trust politicians.

Some day, hopefully before pigs fly, we will have a sensible initiative process to block Washington waste and enact meaningful reforms. Fortunately, that day may be sooner than we think. A newly elected congressman from Colorado, Jared Polis, a very progressive Democrat, has pledged to introduce legislation in the new Congress to establish just such a national system.

Polis’s proposal has not yet been filed. It is likely to be mild, a first toe in the water. But it will most certainly go nowhere in Congress. You can bet on that. It threatens everything Washington has come to stand for.

Nevertheless, if we want Washington to stand for something else — say, fiscal prudence, political accountability, and legislative responsibility — it may be the start of something important, something with a chance of bailing out our now-failing government. 

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.