(Only) 545 People Responsible For All Of U.S. Woes


Quoted here for your reading pleasure, Charley Reese, in 1985:

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The president does. You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don’t write the tax code. Congress does. You and I don’t set fiscal policy. Congress does. You and I don’t control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices—545 human beings out of the 235 million—are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered but private central bank.

I excluded all but the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it.

No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislation’s responsibility to determine how he votes.


Don’t you see how the con game that is played on the people by the politicians? Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of Tip O’Neill, who stood up and criticized Ronald Reagan for creating deficits.

The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating appropriations and taxes.

O’Neill is the speaker of the House. He is the leader of the majority party. He and his fellow Democrats, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto.


It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 235 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted—by present facts—of incompetence and irresponsibility.

I can’t think of a single domestic problem, from an unfair tax code to defense overruns, that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red. If the Marines are in Lebanon, it’s because they want them in Lebanon.

There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take it.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exist disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people and they alone are responsible. They and they alone have the power. They and they alone should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses—provided they have the gumption to manage their own employees.

This was penned in 1985—over two decades ago. Since then, he’s republished this position with minor variations, but his point remains the same. So here’s my question: Why doesn’t it ever get any better? Why can Mr. Reese point to the same body comprised of different people who are always doing the same things over and over again, decade in, decade out, and make the same statements?

A simple answer: there’s no accountability. In our system, “accountability” is pushed aside by “re-election.” Perhaps if Congress had a “No Congressional District Left Behind” program similar to the heaping pile of dung foisted upon our educational system or, better yet, we merely took Warren Buffett’s advice, things might get better.

Come to think of it, you know what I want? I want somebody like Linda McMahon, a straight-talking outsider. In fact, I almost don’t care about the who as much as what I want to hear. What I want to hear is somebody who will promise the following:

  1. to go to Washington and live on a salary and healthcare plan comparable to the average American’s,
  2. to leave Washington after a term in which they fail to achieve a promised, measurable result in the nation’s economy, whether it’s their fault or not, and
  3. to leave Washington without a golden parachute, to return back to being whomever they were in the first place.

All it would take is one candidate, liberal or conservative, to espouse this notion and then to dare other candidates to do the same. Then we’d have a chance of seeing good things happen.

But until then, all I can do is really hope for real change, ‘cause I haven’t seen it yet.

[via Blonde Sagacity]

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