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A Runaway Government And How To Reign It In – On Foundations Of Freedom: What would happen if our government was actually run according to our Constitution? How could a president fix problems like Obamacare? Should we really have three “equal” branches of government? What is the proper role of government, and what could one man do to restore it?  How do we hold the Supreme Court Justices accountable? Also, what can we learn from privately-run cities? Tune in to hear the answers to these questions and more!

Air Date: 05/26/2022

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith and the Culture

President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live. We are talking about the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. And it’s Thursday. So it’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday around here at WallBuilders. 

You can get more of these foundational programs at wallbuilderslive.com. This is the day where we answer your questions about foundational principles, regarding the Constitution, the Declaration, the founding of the country, maybe some policies going through Congress right now, whether or not they’re constitutional, or maybe how we deal with things like the 25th Amendment, those types of questions, send them in to radio@wallbuilders.com.

I’m Rick Green, America’s constitution coach and a former Texas legislator out of Texas. And I’m here with the premier historian in America, David Barton, he’s our founder here at WallBuilders and also, Tim Barton, a national speaker, pastor and president of WallBuilders. We would love for you to learn more about us at wallbuilderslive.com, get some of the archives of not only those Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs, but other days of the week as well, including Good News Fridays.

Good News

Almost every week, tons of good news there for you that will encourage you even in the chaos of this culture, that is really a decay. I mean, when you look at the crumbling of the culture around us, you really do need to know that the principles still work, and we can rebuild. But you got to do it the right way and have the right strategies and tactics to do so.

Alright, David and Tim, let’s dive into some of those questions. Jonathan sent us actually two questions. So let’s start with the first one. He said “If you were president, how would you fix Obamacare or how would you run health care?” So guys, alright, I’m going to take this softball and I’m going to put up on the tee for you. And now how should the federal government approach health care? Here we go.

David:

He says, if I was president, if I was president, I would recall that I took an oath to uphold the Constitution which only gives the federal government 17 powers, enumerated powers they’re called and nothing in their own health care, that falls under the 10th Amendment. If states want to do something with health care, that’s up to them and their citizens. But if I’m president, there is no Obamacare, and there is nothing I’m going to do to help with healthcare because that’s not a federal issue.

Tim:

Now, by the way, if you’re president, you’re also limited in what you can do to remove it under the Constitution. Because remember, it wasn’t the president who actually made this thing happen. There were legal challenges, and it was Justice John Roberts who wrote the dissenting and the concurring opinion. He was bipolar in apparently some moments leading up to this, where he said, no, this is not constitutional, and you can’t do this and make American people pay for this. 

Enumerated Rights?

And then somewhere along the way  he change his mind and said, actually, if you make it a tax, Congress can tax the people. And so if you make this a tax, then it’s constitutional.

This was not something that, I mean, granted, Obama did promote this as was passed in the legislature, it should have been struck down, it should have been recognized as unconstitutional. The US Supreme Court is the one that upheld this. And they…

David:

Yeah, but how long has it been since we know of anybody who upheld enumerated rights?

Tim:

Well, but more importantly, what’s more significant about this is they actually changed what the legislation was to be something it wasn’t to make it constitutional. So instead of saying this is wrong, strike it down. If you write this as a tax, then it could pass and send it back to the legislature to redraft legislation to actually do what they said it had to be to pass. They literally changed the legislation from the bench and then made it constitutional.

So this is the bigger problem of not just what we do as president, although certainly following the Constitution, one of the things that, dad, you’ve mentioned before guys like Calvin Coolidge, such an interesting guy in what he did with executive orders that when he came in, Woodrow Wilson had been president just recently before Calvin Coolidge and Woodrow Wilson had done crazy things as president with a lot of executive orders expanding federal government and overreach and lots of areas. And Calvin Coolidge started doing executive orders, striking down a lot of what Woodrow Wilson had done.

The Executive Branch

I think certainly, you’d want to come in as president and strike down a lot of what presidents had done. But even then, if you’re constitutional you recognize that you only have so much power to strike so much down. Some things shouldn’t be there regardless. But as president, you don’t have the unlimited pin and phone that President Obama pretending like presidents have or that most progressive Democrat presidents have pretended like presidents have, whether it be Woodrow Wilson or FDR or you can pick multiple Democrat presidents.

Presidents don’t have the power and authority that most people think and pretend like they have today. It’s actually Congress that has much more power and authority. It’s just been completely inverted flip the power structure according to the Constitution as outlined in the Federalist Papers, by James Madison and Hamilton and John Jay where they said that the most powerful is the congressional side with the legislative branch, that’s the most powerful. Congress has the most power. And then you have the executive branch. And then the US Supreme Court is beyond comparison, the weakest. We’ve completely inverted that power structure.

But all that to back up with the question is what could you or would you do as president? I would say, guys, and please, let’s open this back up, I think if you were going to be truly constitutional, you would be actually very limited in what you could do. Because unless it was an executive order, you don’t really have the power and authority to remove legislation or to overturn what is now some level of jurisprudence as the president.

Rick:

Yeah, I think it probably had to have to come down to being able to lead from the bully pulpit and in the negotiations over the budget bills and all these other opportunities you have to put pressure on Congress to say, hey, you know, I’m going to veto all of these different things unless you budge on this, unless you trim back if that’s the best you can do on Obamacare or completely abolish it.

If David Were President…

And it probably would take a president making it their center point issue, right, their main flagship issue that they run on and they really put so much of their political chips right there on that part of the table, and they say, listen, if you’re not going to support me on this, I’m not going to support you on anything else. I mean, that’s the only way I see it happening in this current environment because you got to have a Congress that’s going to go with you. You’re right, Tim, they don’t have the power to just unilaterally phone in the pin kind of thing.

But can we just pause for a moment because I liked the first part of this question? If David Barton were president… Just stop for a second there, think about that. I like that, President David Barton, that would be fun. Tim, we might even get to visit the White House if he was president.

Tim:

Yeah, I know it would be a much more pro-America, constitutional, pro-Bill of Rights, religious liberty, it would be very different. Instead of having the White House lit up the rainbow LGBT flag, it might actually be like the American flag. Although the challenge it would be the middle of the summer and Christmas music would be playing over the speakers at the White House and people would be so confused. There’d be Christmas trees year round at the White House. It’d be different. But guys, let me back up.

Regulations and Departments

Rick:

If Cheryl were here, while we’re recording, David’s wife, if Cheryl were here, she’d be saying turn off Rick’s mic, I don’t want to have to decorate Christmas trees 12 months out of the year at the White House.

David:

One just doesn’t take them down, bro. Or decorate and put them up and lift them up. You don’t redecorate. It’s easy.

Tim:

Now  with that being said, I do feel like I would totally be in favor of bringing back Melania Trump to decorate for Christmas because oh, man, it was so beautiful what they did in the Trump administration. Now, with that being said, let’s back up. Because as even now I’m thinking about this and obviously, we’re recording this alive as we’re going through some of these questions and so we haven’t had time to think through all of these necessarily, regardless of the amount of show prep you think we do, sometimes no, let’s just go through the stack and let’s see what’s here and let’s talk about it.

So as president, if you do have different departments and you have Health and Human Services, which is technically who are the ones doing part of the legislation, because when the legislation for Obamacare was passed, part of what happened was they said we’re going to send this on to a government administration, and they can be the ones to figure this out, they can be the ones to write a lot of the regulations.

As a president, you do have the power to shut down some of these agencies. So you actually could go and shut down some of these agencies which then would eliminate actually much of the regulation, it would eliminate much of the bureaucracy. So you could maybe do a little bit more as president than I was initially thinking, but it would be through an agency.

What We Should Learn from Trump and the VA

Rick:

Yes. And executive orders, if the original legislation gave you that leeway. Like you just said, they did a lot of that in these big massive bills. Like Obamacare, they say, okay, here, we’re going to fund this, we’re going to create this program, and then we hand it over to the executive branch to figure out how to do it.

So if within that legislation, you have wiggle room and there’s things you can do or not do or zero out or shrink down or whatever, you’re exactly right. There’s a lot of power there that we didn’t refer to. As long as it’s following and it’s within that legislation, the President would even have to get new legislation passed. 

They’d really have to study that legislation and know how much room they have for executive orders, which was a big part of why Trump was so successful early on, is because there was a team of people that was already preparing even before he won in 2016 for that type of executive order, that constitutional kind that still fit within whatever the ledger inflation was that had been passed.

So he was able to do a lot of cool stuff in those first three or four or five, six months. That was all done behind the scenes or with an executive order. But it was within the legislation. I’m so glad you brought that up, man, because we kind of glossed over that and you’re exactly right.

Jurisdictions

David:

Well, I can tell you an unintended consequence, if I were ever president, you’d have a much higher unemployment rate because I would shut down a lot of agencies that are not constitutional, I would get rid of federal employees who hate America but have a job that they can’t get fired from. I think we mentioned this a few weeks ago. But back when those 300,000 or so were identified, veterans identified as having been killed and the health care system of the VA.

And when Trump came in, he could not fire a single person out of the VA, not allowed to fire federal employees, got a law passed in 2017 that said you can’t fire some of them. And then Labor Relations Board few months ago, reversed that and said, no, you can’t fire any of them. I mean, I would get rid of a lot of what Trump has called the swamp. But I would do so not because it’s a swamp but simply because it violates basic constitutional principles and also violates a lot of common sense. The other issue…

Rick:

I got to disagree with you before you go to another issue. I completely disagree with you, David. If you were president and you did all those things, unemployment might go up in Washington, DC. But by getting rid of all those agencies, employment would go through the roof in the rest of the country because the economy would take off, competition would increase, the market would be freed from so much of that regulation and maybe all of those government employees that have been sitting around doing not much for the last 20 years, they’ve been working for the federal government, maybe they would stay unemployed. But boy, the rest of the country would take off.

Bureaucracy

Tim:

But see, the other interesting thing is how would the people respond? Because I think the last number I saw was somewhere around 60% of Americans now receive a government benefit check of some type. And if you cut out a lot of that, how are people going to respond to losing some income that they should never have had?

Any way a lot of things the federal government pays for is not within his jurisdiction. What would happen if you started trimming the government back to those 17 areas and they only wrote checks in those 17 areas? That’d be really different.

Tim:

It would. But I mean, Rick, I think to your point, part of the consequence, the reality of that would be the growth and expansion everywhere else. And so right now, people are being paid more money to stay at home in some scenarios than actually go look for a job. But one of the things that fundamentally could change if you remove some of those restrictions where even we’ve talked about before, when you look at a new home, and what is it, 25% of the cost of a new home deals with regulation, and maybe it’s even 30%, it’s some astronomical part of, the cost of a home is dealing with government regulation, just the expense, the offset of that.

And what we’re looking at now is you have so many kids graduating and especially with the way the housing market is now ,it’s dumb on lots of levels, you have people graduating from college who would love to own a home. And it’s unaffordable, it’s unachievable, and it’s unattainable for them right now. 

Initially…

Part of the problem is the more government gets involved, the more you are paying government bureaucrats and the more it’s costing the American people. Whereas if you remove layers and levels of bureaucracy, it then frees up the American dollar, it frees up things for people, and ultimately, I think it would change a lot which we would also get involved with the Fed and inflation.

And so there can be a lot of things to help resolve these problems. And even though initially, people might balk at the fact that you’re taking away my unemployment where I’m making twice as much as I made actually having a job, the downstream consequences I think the market would turn so well and so strong that you would win so many people back to where they should be by seeing how much better things are doing.

Rick:

Absolutely, good economics lesson today, guys, and proper role of government as well. But we’ve got another question for everybody when we come back. Stay with us, quick break, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday.

SUMMER INSTITUTE

Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then let no more be heard of confidence in man that bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

Hey, guys, this is Tim Barton, I am interrupting the normal broadcast to bring you something pretty special. This summer, we are doing a special program for college aged students 18-25 year olds. And it’s something that is becoming more and more special based on where the climate is.

In the middle of a crazy culture, in the middle of a nation going in crazy directions and right now we’re seeing in academia where even Christian universities are promoting critical race theory, teaching the 1619 project, we want to do something to help equip young people the next generation, to know the truth, the truth of the Word of God, the truth of America, the truth of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the free market, we want to get into a lot of this. 

And this is something that if you are an 18-25 year old, or if you are a parent or grandparent, if you have an 18 or 25 year old, if you’re in church, you know 18-25 year olds, this program is something that can be life-changing for them, you want them to be a part. Go to wallbuilders.com and look for the summer institute to be part of this program.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our States and of the United States asserts that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves. That is their right and duty to be at all times armed, that they are entitled to freedom of person; freedom of religion; freedom of property and freedom of press.”

The Third Branch

Rick:

We’re back here on WallBuilders Live, Foundations of Freedom Thursday today, and we’re actually going to take a second question from the same person. So Jonathan, alright, brother, you’re getting special treatment, special dispensation for Jonathan today. And the second question comes from, and I think actually, he’s, does that say Alberta, like Alberta, Canada? I think it does. So, hey, we’re given special…

David:

That zip code doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen the United States. So I got to think it’s Alberta, Canada.

Rick:

Yeah. So I can’t believe we’re giving special favors to a Canadian. Oh, well, all right. Jonathan, thank you for email, I’m kidding, man. Thank you very much for emailing in, there’s a lot of listeners…

Tim:

Just so you know, he won’t be offended, they’re polite up there. He’s fine with it. It’s no big deal.

Accountability for SCOTUS

Rick:

Alright, Jonathan, second half. The first question was executive branch, really good question. Second question on the judicial branch. “If the Supreme Court is now making legislation through their decisions, how can they be held accountable?

Also, if they can’t be held accountable, is there a way to terminate them from that position? Alright, Jonathan, thanks for your questions. Alright, guys. let’s go for it. Third branch, here we go.

David:

Yeah, when you come to that question, overall constitutional, and we were talking about original intent and going back to what the federal government does, 17 different things and that’s it, when you go back to original intents of the courts, the notion the three branches are coequal or that they’re co independent, that’s crazy.

The Federalist Papers, when the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, Federalist Papers were really kind of the commentary on the Constitution. And they made really clear the three branches are not equal. They said the legislative authority necessarily predominates, that’s not coequal, and they said the judiciary is beyond comparison, the weakest of the three branches.

So the fact that we’ve allowed that branch to now have the power it does, was never designed, never intended. So the answer to the question is when the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they put lots in the constitution to make sure you can enforce the fact that the Supreme Court was the lesser of all three branches, that they did not get the final word on anything. 

Three “Equal” Branches?

And there’s a lot in Article III, a lot in Article II, and a lot in Article I that allows that to occur. So there’s lots of ways to control the court, but none of them work unless the people know what they are and support them. Because at this point, it would be like we were talking in the first segment, you’re basically remaking the entire American federal government if you went back to just 17 areas and got rid of people you didn’t need.

Well, if you remade the judiciary to what is supposed to be, you would offend a lot of people who think the court is supposed to do certain things or have certain powers or whatever. So constitutionally, there is a lot of ways to control the courts. But in practical life, it’s going to be tough to implement.

Tim:

And I would say one of the best long term solutions is a lot of what we saw happen under President Trump, is that you just have to start putting the right people on there who understand the constraints constitutionally the role of the Supreme Court. One of the things that had frustrated a lot of liberals and got a lot of conservatives even talking was when Justice Alito had that draft decision that was leaked by somebody and Politico carried the story, and of course, there’s been all these hubbub now, because of it dealing with the Roe v. Wade decision, etc.

What’s interesting about this is Justice Alito, in this draft decision, and this is again why liberals heads were, metaphorically speaking, exploding, reading this decision was he said it was never a constitutional position in the first place for this to happen; we have to go back to restoring and respecting the Constitution.

Checks and Balances

When you have justices and you have at least a majority of justices on there who hold that position, this is how you can restore the court to the position it should be in. Certainly, there were other constitutional checks and balances where you could impeach Judges. 

Most of the time when people hear impeachment I think about presidents, which dad, I mean, you’re the first person that I heard talk about this growing up, but the Constitution says much more about impeaching Judges than it does Presidents. And we’ve never seen that in modern political life. It’s only been impeaching presidents. There’s much more commentary on impeaching Judges than presidents.

And even we hear that Judges are there, they have a lifetime appointment, that’s not what the Constitution says. The Constitution says that they are there for the duration of good behavior. The problem is now we live in a culture that no longer knows right or wrong. I mean, granted, most people are having to debate over what is male and female. If we don’t even know boy and girl, we certainly are going to have a hard time navigating right and wrong and what then is acceptable or moral behavior.

And so if you don’t know what good behavior is, then you have a hard time being able to remove someone for bad behavior. But this was part of the accountability that the Founding Fathers put in place, because for them there were self-evident truths, they could look to saying that there are some basic ideas, right and wrong. And even among those was constitutional outlines of jurisdiction. And if somebody violated their jurisdiction, that would be bad behavior, they could be impeached for that.

The Most Realistic Solution

So the things you could do are impeach are Supreme Court justice, although that’s not realistic now. So the most realistic solution is make sure we are electing the right person as President, make sure we have good senators in place, so that they’re able to nominate and confirm Supreme Court Justices who actually do know what the Constitution is about, who do respect those positions so that in the future, maybe you have–

For example, a Mike Lee, who could be a very good Supreme Court justice because he knows exactly how the Constitution was written and what the law says. He’s a lawyer. And he’s a senator right now from Utah. Nonetheless, really good guy.

When you start getting those kinds of people like your Alitos or like your Thomas’, people on there, who believe in the Constitution, who understand the limitations of the Supreme Court, that’s when you can restore the Supreme Court to the boundaries It was intended to have.

David:

And that’s really significant because we’re now starting to see the Supreme Court restore itself to those boundaries. Congress and the President have long refused to do that. But Tim, as you pointed out, President Trump and his administration really worked hard to put constitutionalists on the court. So, there was even a unanimous Supreme Court decision recently over what in the 60s, 70s and 80s was completely controversial issue. Even in that unanimous decision, a liberal justice on the court said we’re no longer and those freewheeling days of the previous generation.

Filling the Courts

And, if you look back into the 1950s 60s, and 70s, the court was freewheeling, it just implemented policies if it were super legislators. This liberal Justice in this unanimous decision, took a position that no previous liberal that I know of on the court has ever taken. He said, but we’re not in the freewheeling days back then.

And so this is something where the court has started to rein itself back in. The court is starting to pull itself back into its proper role. But that’s because you’re putting people on the court who actually read the Constitution, and believe it and really observe their own oath to uphold the Constitution.

So I think things are changing in that area, not because the other branches exercise the checks and balances they should have, but because the one branch and actually, like as you should say both branches over the last four years did a really good job of starting to fill the courts with people who actually do like the Constitution, do read it and do apply it.

Rick:

Yeah. And you know, David, this is a great time for a lesson on incrementalism and staying in the fight over a long period of time. And you don’t get everything all at once you take a guy like Alito, I mean, he’s been on there, when did Bush appoint him, I think it was 03, 04, I can’t remember the year. So he’s been on there for a long time in a position where he couldn’t have gotten an opinion like this through. 

As a majority opinion, he wouldn’t have had another four votes for even clarifying the proper role of the federal government and the court and all the great stuff that he has in that draft opinion. But he stayed the course. He stayed in the fight.

The Power of Incrementalism

And I mean, I heard from folks that he was frustrated, that he was not liking the fact that he was not able to do those kinds of things that would really make a difference. But he stayed in there. And if this opinion actually ends up being the final row opinion and if this direction is going that way for the court, I just thank God for men like him for staying in there and now having and maybe he’s having to couple those votes together behind the scenes. We don’t know well, how for sure strong the three of those five are. We know Thomas’s as stronger, stronger.

But anyway, I just think it’s a great example of that incrementalism that over time you can get there. You don’t get this these kinds of victories overnight.

Alright, guys, time for one more question before we go today on this Foundation of Freedom Thursday. This comes from Paul in Massachusetts. He said, “Hey, guys, as a conservative, I know we’re frustrated with Disney right now because of their opposition to teaching sexual, well, actually, they’re supportive teaching sexual topics to children.

Privately-Run Cities

But I still love Disney and want to work there. Every time I go to the parks, I’m amazed at how well it is run from the transportation to the roads to the gardening. It’s got me wondering, has there ever been a fully privately run city or town? And if so, how did they do? Would it work with elections?”

David:

The answer is yes. Literally, there are 42 different states in America that have privately run cities. There are hundreds of privately run cities. Some of them have become public cities over time. But this is super common. It’s kind of like what we’d call a homeowner’s association. We still have cities that are run by homeowners associations where the people get together and say, hey, here’s our little board that we’ve got.

But if I take you to Texas, if I say Sugar Land, Texas, that’s a big city. That was created by the Imperial Sugar Company. That’s where they house our employees. If you go to Durango, Colorado, that was started by the Denver Rio Grande railroad to house their employees. I mean, you have so many of the city, hundreds of cities across the US. So this is not an unusual thing.

A Runaway Government And How To Reign It In – On Foundations Of Freedom 

Tim:

Yeah. And to your point, even today there’s some oil companies that have cities for their oil workers. There are many companies that do this. And I think the fundamental question of it, would it work privatizing something? Well, depends on who’s the one in charge of that city. Because there are really good private businesses that are run really well and there’s private businesses that are not running well at all. So I think a lot of it deals with the philosophy as to who was running it.

But certainly, things tend to be more efficient and effective when you remove layers of bureaucracy. And when you privatize things, you tend to remove layers of bureaucracy, and that does tend to help things be more smooth and efficient.

Rick:

Well, we’re out of time for your questions today. But send them in radio@wallbuilders.com and we’ll hit as many as we can next week on Foundations of Freedom Thursday. You can get more of our programming at the website wallbuilderslive.com. Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.

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Abraham Lincoln said “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts; not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who promote the Constitution stand on.”