George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

W⁠i⁠ll You Help Us Keep I⁠t⁠?

By: The James Madison Institute / 2013

As an organization that promotes limited government and is often frustrated by the fecklessness of Washington politics, some may have thought JMI’s first reaction to news of a government shutdown would have been, “Sounds good to us!”

While there’s no denying they would be partially correct – it’s just not that simple. Certainly, nobody should take a government shutdown lightly. Indeed, the federal government has grown so large that virtually everyone knows someone — family member, friend, or acquaintance — affected by the impasse in Washington. These fellow citizens have responsibilities to attend to, loved ones to take care of, bills to pay. So this game of chicken between the warring parties of Washington isn’t amusing to them.

Even though this partial shutdown doesn’t affect the entire federal government, and some key functions — national security, public safety, and statutory programs such as Social Security won’t shut down — roughly 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed and won’t be receiving their paychecks. This creates a ripple effect, altering the lives of those who are currently dependent on the services these federal programs provide or on the money spent in the communities where these employees live.

A disagreement about funding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a major bone of contention in this impasse. In health care, JMI has been a proponent ofmarket-driven solutions to increase Americans’ access to affordable health care. We’ve opposed the ACA from the start, and polls show that many Americans share our view.

We also believe that it was important to take a stand to stop the ACA, so we were pleased Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) read a quote from JMI’s President, Dr. Bob McClure, on the Senate floor in his now famous filibuster.

In Florida, as well as in other states, provisions of the ACA have led to confusion and to unintended but predictable consequences, including layoffs in the workforce at a time when the economy was still in intensive care.

Moreover, there are legitimate concerns that the methods “navigators” and “assisters” will use to sign up people for health insurance will risk having their personal information fall into the wrong hands. This concern is outlined in Dr. McClure’s latest op-ed “Be Wary of the Knocking Navigators,” which was published in the Tampa Tribune and several other Florida newspapers.

Already the public is beginning to become aware of the ACA’s numerous problems. Although some of the law’s proponents may have had the best of intentions, we truly believe that the ACA is the epitome of bad policy that will cause more harm than good. Therefore, to ask JMI or anyone else with common sense and an understanding of the law’s flaws to “stand down” and just “accept” that it is the law of the land is asking us to docilely accept the status quo.

Sorry. That’s something we simply won’t do. This is not a partisan stand no matter how badly folks want to paint it that way; this is a stand for supporting long-term effective policy, not short-term Band-Aid solutions.

Whatever the final outcome of the shutdown showdown in Washington, it has highlighted several things we’ve been pointing out for years. For one, the federal government is much too big and unwieldy. There is a role for government, but it should be limited to the core functions as envisioned by James Madison and the other framers of the U.S. Constitution.

Moreover, if the federal government did not consume such an inordinate share of the nation’s wealth, many current federal functions could be better handled by state and local governments, by the private sector, or — if unnecessary, –not funded at all.

The less money spent on government, the more money that stays in your pocket. Whether you want to start your own company, partner to establish a private health care clinic to serve low-income families in your community, or save up to homeschool your children, you should decide how you want to spend your hard-earned money.

Every day our guiding principles at JMI light the way of our actions. We want our state’s economy to be strong and thriving so that Florida’s families have all of the opportunities possible to live the life they dream of. Simply put, an economy that relies on government to create and sustain jobs is not why America has been known as the greatest country in the world.

At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, as Benjamin Franklin left Independence Hall on the final day of the deliberations, a woman asked him, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?”

Dr. Franklin replied, “A republic madam, if you can keep it.”

For the sake of all those today who are fighting the good fight against an increasingly intrusive and costly federal government – and for the sake of all those younger Americans who don’t yet fathom the gravity of what’s at stake – please join us in the fight to keep our nation a republic and its people free.

Will you help us keep it?

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