Saving Congress from Itself proposes a single reform: eliminate all federal grants-in-aid to state and local governments. This action would reduce federal spending by over $600 billion a year and have a profound effect on how we govern ourselves. The proliferation of federal grants-in-aid programs is of recent vintage: only about 100 such grants existed before Lyndon Johnson took office, and now they number more than 1,100. Eliminating grants to the states will result in enormous savings in federal and state administrative costs; free states to set their own priorities; and improve the design and implementation of programs now subsidized by Washington by eliminating federal regulations that attend the grants. In short, it will free states and their subdivisions to resume full responsibility for all activities that fall within their competence, such as education, welfare, and highway construction and maintenance. And because members of Congress spend major portions of their time creating grants and allocating funds assigned to them (think earmarks), eliminating grants will enable Congress to devote its time to responsibilities that are uniquely national in character.
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About the Author
James L. Buckley was born in New York City in 1923, grew up in rural Connecticut, and received his B.A. degree from Yale. Following service as a naval officer in World War II, he returned to New Haven to secure his law degree. After several years in private practice, he joined a group of small companies engaged in oil exploration abroad. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1970 as the candidate of New York’s Conservative Party. He failed of re-election; but he has since served as an under secretary of state in the Reagan administration, as president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, Germany, and, most recently, as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He retired in 2000, and he and his wife now live in his hometown of Sharon, Connecticut.