Drain the Swamp, How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think, And What We Can Do About It. Author and congressman, Ken Buck, gives a behind the scenes view of our government in his new book and what solutions we can implement to make a change in our nation.
Air Date: 05/31/2017
Guests: Ken Buck, 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. 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 because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
You found your way to the intersection of faith and the culture. Welcome to WallBuilders Live! We’re talking about these hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always looking at it from Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
That conversation here with David Barton, America’s premiere historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton with us. He’s president of WallBuilders, national speaker, and pastor. And my name’s Rick Green. I’m a former Texas state rep, national speaker, and author.
Find out more about us and the organization at WallBuilders.com and also WallBuildersLive.com. So check out those websites. You can get archive programs from the last few weeks. You can find out more about our guest, and there are some great links and other information at both websites. Later in the program, we’re going to have Congressman Ken Buck with us. He’s got a new book coming out called, Drain the Swamp.
The Common Denominators Found In Terrorist
So David, Tim, I’ve heard that phrase a lot last year. So, Drain the Swamp. What swamp are we talking about and how do we drain it?
You know, I first really heard that term used in a political context from a war hero, literally, Brian Birdwell, Colonel Brian Birdwell. We are used to having them speak at our various conferences, particularly at the Pastors Briefings. When he was at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. he’s the guy who got blown up in the Pentagon on 9/11. The jet plane ran over the top of him and covered him with jet fuel. Thirty- nine surgeries later he survived.
But he used to talk about the war on terror and those first three, four, or five years we went first into Iraq and then Afghanistan and he would talk about what happened. And he would back up 20 to 25 years before 9/11 and he would say, “Hey, let’s go back to the 1983 U.S. embassy attack in Beirut. It killed 17 and wounded a hundred.”
He said, “Or let’s go to the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut. It’s 242 dead and 81 wounded. Or let’s go to 1984 the nightclub in Berlin that blew up servicemen, two dead and 79 wounded. Let’s go to 1984 bomb at the U.S. embassy and the annex in Beirut, 2 dead and 21 wounded. And you go to the 1984 bombing of Tuireann Base, Air Force base in Spain- 18 dead and 83 wounded.”
And you just go through all these terrorist attacks and in that two decades leading up to 9/11. There were like ten thousand American casualties counting dead and wounded. I mean, massive amounts.
He said, “At some point you recognize, you know, all of these terrorists are coming out of the same countries. They’re all coming out of there. We can either keep trying to swat the mosquitoes that come out of the swamp or we can go in and drain the swamp.”
That’s what I remember him saying. I can remember him sitting in that meeting room there at the Capitol and him saying, “You can either drain the swamp or just swat at mosquitoes.” I remember him saying that now.
Fixing The Core Issue
And it was that you’ve got to go to the source of the problems, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq. You go in there and you drain the swamp. Now, it’s resulted in another 10,000 casualties with American service members. But as he used to point out, “Yeah, but that’s what we get paid for. We’re the military, we go in to sacrifice our lives. It shouldn’t be 10,000 civilians that are losing their lives.”
And so that’s the first time I heard “draining the swamp.” And it really meant to get to the to the source, the core of the problem. Let’s go right to the core of the problem and get this garbage out of there. Get the swamp gone so the mosquitoes can’t live there anymore. So you’re going to have a whole new culture coming out of that.
So when Trump starts saying, “Let’s drain the swamp,” that’s what I think of. You go on and you get that corruption out of there. You get something brand new installed, you get all the mosquitoes gone so they’re not buzzing around. You had a more carrying disease everywhere they go. You get a whole different climate, a whole different look, a whole different feel.
In fact, Congressman Buck is going to be on later to talk about it. But I mean, really looking at it now, not just a campaign rhetoric out of the campaign trail of what we’d like to do, but how they’re actually doing that now in Washington, D.C. Both the president’s efforts, but members of Congress are saying, “We’ve got to make significant changes here. We can’t just tinker around at the edges.”
A Man After God’s Heart
Yeah, Congressman Buck is a great guy to be talking about this, too. Because he went in just a couple of sessions ago. He’s a reform-minded guy, he’s out of Colorado, and he was a prosecutor there.
And by the way, really cool guy, He had really serious cancer and God very sovereignly, very divinely healed Ken Buck. Ken is a great God-guy but he is a no-nonsense guy. And so he went into Congress to reform things to drain the swamp before Trump was talking about it.
And he went in and he was elected the head of the freshman class. The other freshmen elected him and it is a big class they had. And so he’s been at this. And now that he’s been in two terms. He’s going, “Man, do we have a swamp here.” And so from the inside, this is a guy who went in reform-minded, who is still reform-minded, he said, “This is what the swamp looks like.” You guys didn’t really know what Trump meant when he said it. Let me let me show you what the swamp looks like beyond what you see on TV.
So Ken is a great guy. He’s got a new book out, Drain the Swamp. It is very specific, very good, and it’s great information on what every citizen needs to know if we’re going to drain the swamp.
And it’s perspective from the inside. So we’re kind of getting a view inside the belly of the beast. Most people wonder what actually happens in Washington, D.C. He actually reveals that to us and then tells us what we can do about it. Ken Buck, our special guest, stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live!
A Moment From America’s History
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Shortly after the American Revolution, America had become the envy of the world. It still remains a wonder of the modern world as 219 years later America has become the longest ongoing constitutional republic in the history of the world. What was the foundation upon which our Founding Fathers established this great nation? According to John Adams, the foundation was Christianity.
John Adams declared, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. Now I will avow that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
According to Founding Father John Adams, it was the principles of Christianity which formed the foundation for American government. For more information on God’s hand in American history contact WallBuilders at 1 800 8 REBUILD.
What It Takes To Change The System
Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live! Congressman Ken Buck from Colorado is with us today. Congressman good to have you, Sir.
Thank you. It’s great to be with you.
Hey, great new book, Drain the Swamp. And you guys are hard at work making that happen. Tell us why you wanted to put this in a book and try to educate the American people on this.
You know, Rick. I think it’s really important in my life when I went to D.C. I went there to try to reform the system and I didn’t go there to be part of the system. And so when I took a look at what was going on I realized really quickly that if we don’t get the American people involved in the process of forming and changing the system it really won’t change.
So I wrote this book to make sure the American people understood exactly what was going on. I think people have a general feeling that there are some problems back there. This book gives specifics as to those problems. And then I talked about some of the solutions, a balanced budget amendment, term limits, ethics reform, reports that we need to generate in Congress to make some changes.
Congress Won’t Take Tough Votes
In fact, you know the byline of the book, How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think. Was it for you a surprise? I mean, even as you are running for Congress you’re obviously learning a lot and are already well educated on what’s going on. But once you get there and you get inside the belly of the beast and you see what’s going on behind the scenes, did it surprise you that things were worse than even what you thought?
It did surprise me to learn the specifics. I never realized just how much the Democrats and Republicans agree with each other to avoid tough votes. That is one of the cardinal rules in Congress is, “Don’t take tough votes.” If you don’t take tough votes you don’t have to worry about folks running against you back home.
So not being on record is a big part of what happened back there in the view of many it is better to put our grandchildren into trillions of dollars of debt than it is to take a tough vote and risk a re-election.
The Endangered Species Act
Now, you also talk about, frankly, the corruption that is there, the backroom arm twisting. The fact that committee chairmanships are literally bought and sold at extreme price tags, I mean, it’s somethings that are going to shock folks.
I think it will shock folks. And you mentioned the pay to play. It’s a great example of what I didn’t know happened back there. But I certainly had a sense that something was wrong.
Both parties do this, the dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee, for a committee it’s $450,000. To be a chair of a committee, $1.2 million. So it’s extreme, it causes corruption, and the system has to be changed.
You also mentioned even the growth of the government, we know that the federal government is way outside its congressional authority. And you point out, the way you put it, a third of the discretionary spending in the federal budget is actually illegal and could be cut immediately. What do you mean by that?
I give an example of the Endangered Species Act. In 1973 the Endangered Species Act was passed with a five-year sunset. So many members voted for it thinking, “We’ll try this. We’ll see if it works, if it doesn’t work then we’ll take a vote. It just a sunset that will end in five years.”
It was reauthorized in 1978 and has not been reauthorized since 1978. So since 1984 the Endangered Species Act is an unauthorized program and it continues to receive appropriations, funding, every single year to operate but it has never been reauthorized. So Congress has never done its job of oversight on the Endangered Species Act. Never looked at the program and said, “What can we do better? Or should this program even exist?”
One-third of the federal government is on the discretionary side, so not Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid, but on the discretionary side. One-third of the federal government are appropriations to authorize programs.
Some of those programs should exist like FBI may be unauthorized right now at the State Department but they should still have oversight. And many of the programs should not exist.
Meanwhile, The Government Is Racking Up Huge Debt
Is that the same thing you were talking about earlier where they just don’t want to take the tough votes? They don’t they don’t want to have to answer back home and be held accountable for and some of them are crazy programs? And I don’t know why they wouldn’t do some of the ones that really make sense like you’re saying like the FBI. But is it just part of that not wanting to be held accountable on the tough votes?
I think that’s absolutely right. There is an agreement back there, a quiet agreement, an unwritten agreement, that we’re not going to make you vote on tough issues. You’re not going to make us vote on tough issues, and we’ll just avoid those votes and we’ll all go our merry way. Meanwhile, the government continues to rack up huge debt and be very wasteful, Very wasteful form of trying to run the country.
I know sometimes when people read a book like this or they hear some of these things or they get elected and they go into the belly of the beast they can get jaded or get discouraged and think there are no solutions. That’s not what you’re saying, you’re saying the problems are huge but there are solutions. So, let’s talk solutions,
Very quick break. We’ll be right back with Congressman Ken Buck and talk about some of the solutions. The book is called, Drain the Swamp, How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think. You can get it everywhere so go check it out.
It’s going to wake you up but more importantly, it’s going to give you some solutions and some ways you can take action. That’s what we’ll talk about when we come back on WallBuilders Live.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution but just felt like, man, the classes are boring or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago or I don’t know where to start? People want to know. But it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the Constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. It’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the Constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the QuickStart Guide to the Constitution because in just a few hours through these videos you will learn the Citizen’s Guide to America’s Constitution. You’ll learn what you need to do to help save our Constitutional Republic. It’s fun! It’s entertaining! And it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at WallBuilders.com.
How To Drain The Swamp
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today, Congressman Ken Buck is with us, we’re talking about his new book, “Drain the Swamp, How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think.”
Congressman, we talk about some of the problems the book lays out a whole lot more than what we have time to cover today. But you also talked solutions, you talk about constitutional remedies, you talk about the actual personal steps that individuals can take as well. Tell us, I guess first, let’s talk about the constitutional remedy that you think folks should be using.
So there are two ways to amend the United States Constitution and they’re both outlined in Article 5. One is the method that we use so far in our country’s history and that is for Congress to agree on language to send state legislatures where it’s ratified by a certain number of states and sent back to Congress or sent back and then it is an amendment to the Constitution.
The other way is for the state legislatures to demand that Congress convene a convention of the states. That has not resulted in an amendment so far but I believe it’s the only way to pass a balanced budget amendment and the only way to pass term limits which are two things that I think have to happen. If we are going to in fact reform Congress.
So I would really encourage people around the country to look at the appendix in the book which is a model language that could be used for the state legislatures to demand a Convention in the States. The convention of the states has to be limited in its scope to just fixing the financial mess with a balanced budget amendment and term limit in House members and senators. It should not be a broad sweeping review of the Constitution but really just a focused effort to amend those two things to pass those two amendments.
I couldn’t agree with you more. I was just at the Texas House testifying on a convention of states Bill and encouraging the legislators to step up and use this wonderful tool that the Founders gave them in quoting George Mason and the reasons why. And maybe it’s the nature of man that when they get power they don’t want to give it up and when Congress gets outside of federal government in general gets outside its boundaries it’s not going to put itself back in the box the states have to do it and somebody pointed out this isn’t as complicated as people think.
Congress can propose amendments that the states have to approve and the states can propose amendments that then the states have to approve it’s really that simple and we just haven’t used that second option before and I agree with you, I think it’s the only way we’re going to put the whole thing back in and get people back in there in their jurisdiction. We’ll have to do a whole show on that sometime when we have more time.
What You Can Do To Help Drain The Swamp
Let’s talk about individual actions. What do you recommend? Because I think a lot of people look at it and they go, “Well man, the system is so big and it’s so out of control, well yeah, but Ken’s in Congress, I mean he’s there in Washington he can do a lot. What can little old me, what can I do in my hometown and without a position of ‘power.”
Well, I think that every citizen has a position of power and they need to make sure they exercise it on election day. But also the ability to work with state legislators, members of the Texas House, the Senate, and in other states those Houses and Senates and I think what we really need to do is to get this convention of states off the ground, for one thing.
And working in communities to make sure people understand just how important it is to get a balanced budget amendment before we go off this fiscal cliff is absolutely essential.
I also think it’s really important that we each individual citizen know they need to petition their own congressman, their senator, to make some of these changes. It should be unethical to have a pay to play system for committee assignments or chairmanships in Congress.
You should not pay a private political organization for a government position that should be unethical. We should also demand to have reports. They say we are are raising revenue in this way to pay for this new spending bill, that revenue is never raised. We should have an annual report that shows the American public, is transparent. That we are not, in fact, raising the revenue, that we said we would when we voted for this new spending bill, and therefore we’re just creating more national debt.
I tell you, the book is recommended by the way, by some of my favorite folks Mark Levin, Eric Erickson, Senator Mike Lee, Senator Ted Cruz, and many others. So, Congressman, you’ve got some good endorsements there and I know you put a lot of work into this. And so really do want to encourage people to get it. We’ll have links today at WallBuildersLive.com to make it easy for folks. Also have some links to how you can do exactly what you just said Congressman, how individuals can get involved what they can do to help make this convention of states happen and other activities to make a difference.
We’ve all got a responsibility and when guys like you set aside years of your life to go to D.C. and serve and try to save the Constitutional Republic I think it’s more motivation for us as individuals to do our part as well. We appreciate you brother. Thanks for what you’re doing.
Thank you very much. I appreciate being with you today.
That is Congressman Ken Buck. We’ll be back in a moment with David and Tim Barton. Check it out, Drain the Swamp, Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think. Stay with us, back in a moment on WallBuilders Live!
DVD On Common Core
Hi, friends! This is David Barton of WallBuilders. The current condition of education in America is abysmal. Not only is educational achievement plummeting, but every year, some 19 percent of high school seniors who graduate is completely illiterate. They can’t read at all but it was not always this way.
For generations, we taught students how to think. But after the progressives took over education in the early 20th century, things began to radically change. Education shifted from thinking to learning, which made the emphasis on the teachers rather than the students. And that elevated indoctrination above knowledge.
At that time, progressives also made massive changes in the way we tested students. They extended school from 8 to 12 years. They introduced graded education and they added compulsory education. Statistics prove that these changes have harmed education rather than helped it. And now the progressives are pushing common core.
In our new DVD On Common Core, we give you eight reasons why this current approach is so dangerous to our kids and our culture. We also show you an amazing history of education. So get this new DVD at WallBuilders.com.
We Need To Take Action Now
Welcome back, thanks for staying with us on WallBuilders Live! Thanks to Congressman Ken Buck for joining us today as well. Check out his book, Drain the Swamp.
Back with David and Tim now. Some of those things I think he talked about are going to surprise people. If you haven’t been around Washington at all and you hear some of these horror stories of how things actually operate people actually buying chairmanships and things like that. Man, that makes you want to drain the swamp.
That doesn’t sound like the political process the Founding Fathers intended and set up.
I recall that Jefferson said, “If you want to be a committee chair it’s going to cost you 1.2 million dollars.” That’s what Jefferson told.
And so at that time, you had perhaps Charles Carroll and Roger Sherman?
No, Sherman wasn’t a rich guy, Carol is it. You’re talking kinda Carol being the rich guy there. Robert Morris-
Tim: Morris, maybe that’s who I was thinking of.
But wasn’t in then at that point.
Yeah, so really there were no committee chairs.
There was one committee chair.
None one could afford it.
Charles Carroll could have shared everything, other than that nobody else could. But that’s a real problem, $450,000 to be on a key committee. “I want to be on the Armed Service Committee.” “For $450,000 we’ll put you there.”
“I want to be on the Armed Service Committee.”
“For $450,000 we’ll put you there.”
Pay to play is really unfathomable. One of the things that was very interesting to me, as much as we talk about Article 5, when someone who is inside the belly of the beast says, “The only way you’re going to change it is with an article 5.” All of a sudden you realize. “Wow. So this isn’t just thinking we need some new congressmen.” When the congressmen are saying, “No, guys you’re gonna have to do this from the outside because it’s not going to happen up here.” That puts a totally different light in perspective for me on that Article 5 solution of states proposing amendments.
That’s a great point.
Drain The Swamp
If you just change congressman you’re sending a congressman in the same swamp and they’re going to come out contaminated because they can’t drain the swamp by themselves. That’s going to take major systemic reforms. That’s what Article 5 will do is it will give you a systemic reform that will drain the swamp.
I was writing down all the things he was saying. I didn’t realize that one-third of the government is not authorized but because nobody wants to take a hard vote. So like the Endangered Species Act, it’s not authorized by federal law, it shouldn’t even be there. It’s not part of it.
And one-third of government is being expended on stuff that’s not authorized, really? And that’s an amazing fact. But we do that and as you said the cardinal rule in Congress is, “Don’t take tough votes.” And both the R’s and the D’s agree on not taking tough votes.
And and so even in the concept that we’ve got the states to stand up. And as Ken said, the states haven’t insisted the Fed stay out of their affairs. And the states ought to be doing that. Yeah. but here’s the problem, the state legislators have largely gone through the same public school system the rest of us did.
I would be curious if you took 100 state legislators and said, “Can you name the 15 things the Constitution allows the federal government to do?” I don’t think they could name five, much less 15.
And if you don’t know what those 15 are then you don’t know everything else that belongs to the states. And if you’re going to stand up for what the state has a right to do that means you have to know what the federal government is allowed to do and nothing more. 15 issues. That’s it. That’s all the Constitution gives you.
Part of the systemic reform has got to be long term where that you’ve got to start teaching the Constitution again. You need guys in office to start reading it again. You need an analytical study but it’s not that hard o a deal.
Tim and I have now helped four colleges. They wanted to start schools of government. This year one of those colleges will graduate its first class out of the School of Government. And when it came to teaching the Constitution we didn’t introduce a new textbook. We pulled an 1828 textbook on the Constitution, elementary textbook, we used an 1831 textbook on the Constitution, and an 1841 textbook and they were all school books for kids. And that’s what we’re teaching in the college school of government is three elementary school books for kids
Everybody ought to be able to go through that and say, “You know what, now I understand the Constitution. Now I know how I can drain the swamp. And by the way, now I even know what the boundaries of the swamp are.”
And so that simple start is one good way to do it, but it’s something we’re going to have to do. And you know, I love the other thing he was saying about, and Rick you asked the question, “What can little ole me do?” Well, as you point out, get focused on the down ballot stuff. Don’t get focused on all the up ballot. Work in the communities, get you a good school board, because that’s a farm team for the state reps will become the federal congressman.
Get you the right people and city council to get the right people in mayor because that’s not a 52 percent voter turnout like you have nationally. We’re talking about 2.9 percent local voter turnout. Those are elections you can win. You start training people. Get stuff in process right now. But get Ken’s book on draining the swamp. It is such a good start. You actually see what’s going on. Then you know what the solutions are.
Thanks to Congressman Ken Buck. Appreciate him coming on the program today but especially thankful for you listening. Thanks for listening today to WallBuilders Live!