ON-Lion Letter

Encounter Books' new Saving Congress from Itself:  Emancipating the States & Empowering Their People, by former U.S. Sen. and former federal Judge James L. Buckley, proposes a single public-policy reform:  eliminate all federal grants-in-aid to state and local governments.  This action would reduce federal spending by more than $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, according to Buckley.  Only about 100 such grants existed before Lyndon Johnson took office, and now they number over 1,100. 

Eliminating grants to the states would 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 would 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), Saving Congress from Itself argues, eliminating grants will enable Congress to devote its time to responsibilities that are uniquely national in character.

Encounter Books is an activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, a nonprofit group that is substantially supported by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee.

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