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Charlie Reese’s Final Article

American journalist Charley Reese wrote for the Orlando Sentinel for 3 decades, between 1971 and 2001. For par of that time, he wrote a column 3 times a week which was syndicated nationwide. Reese wrote the first version of an editorial in the 1980s in which he contended that 545 people “are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.” Those 545 people are the President of the United States, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. Reese amended, updated, and republished that piece several times until making the final revision his parting shot upon retirement.

 

Here is a version of Reese’s piece, as it appeared 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 Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why if all 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 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 235 million — are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excused 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 by private central bank.

I exclude all of 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 in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it.

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

Don’t you see 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.

Those 545 people and they alone are responsible. 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.

 

The version cited below is taken from the 7 March 1995 edition of the Orlando Sentinel, where it ran under the title “Looking for Someone to Blame? Congress Is a Good Place to Start.”

Politicians, as I have often said, are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Everything on the Republican contract is a problem created by Congress. Too much bureaucracy? Blame Congress. Too many rules?

Blame Congress. Unjust tax laws? Congress wrote them.

Out-of-control bureaucracy? Congress authorizes everything bureaucracies do. Americans dying in Third World rat holes on stupid U.N. missions? Congress allows it. The annual deficits?

Congress votes for them. The $4 trillion plus debt? Congress created it.

To put it into perspective just remember that 100 percent of the power of the federal government comes from the U.S. Constitution. If it’s not in the Constitution, it’s not authorized.

Then read your Constitution. All 100 percent of the power of the federal government is invested solely in 545 individual human beings. That’s all. Of 260 million Americans, only 545 of them wield 100 percent of the power of the federal government.

That’s 435 members of the U.S. House, 100 senators, one president and nine Supreme Court justices. Anything involving government that is wrong is 100 percent their fault.

I exclude the vice president because constitutionally he has no power except to preside over the Senate and to vote only in the case of a tie. I exclude the Federal Reserve because Congress created it and all its power is power Congress delegated to it and could withdraw anytime it chooses to do so. In fact, all the power exercised by the 3 million or so other federal employees is power delegated from the 545.

All bureaucracies are created by Congress or by executive order of the president. All are financed and staffed by Congress. All enforce laws passed by Congress.

All operate under procedures authorized by Congress. That’s why all complaints and protests should be properly directed at Congress, not at the individual agencies.

You don’t like the IRS? Go see Congress. You think the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agency is running amok? Go see Congress.

Congress is the originator of all government problems and is also the only remedy available. That’s why, of course, politicians go to such extraordinary lengths and employ world-class sophistry to make you think they are not responsible. Anytime a congressman pretends to be outraged by something a federal bureaucrat does, he is in fact engaging in one big massive con job. No federal employee can act at all except to enforce laws passed by Congress and to employ procedures authorized by Congress either explicitly or implicitly.

Partisans on both sides like to blame presidents for deficits, but all deficits are congressional deficits. The president may, by custom, recommend a budget, but it carries no legal weight. Only Congress is authorized by the Constitution to authorize and appropriate and to levy taxes. That’s what the federal budget consists of: expenditures authorized, funds appropriated and taxes levied.

Both Democrats and Republicans mislead the public. For 40 years Democrats had majorities and could have at any time balanced the budget if they had chosen to do so. Republicans now have majorities and could, if they choose, pass a balanced budget this year. Every president, Democrat or Republican, could have vetoed appropriations bills that did not make up a balanced budget. Every president could have recommended a balanced budget. None has done either.

We have annual deficits and a huge federal debt because that’s what majorities in Congress and presidents in the White House wanted. We have troops in various Third World rat holes because Congress and the president want them there.

Don’t be conned. Don’t let them escape responsibility. We simply have to sort through 260 million people until we find 545 who will act responsibly.

 

In 2008, Reese’s editorial was updated with some topical political references:

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 equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 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 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 legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

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 a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President 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 and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the 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 Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

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 this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists 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 the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees…

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

 

Reese, Charley. “Looking for Someone to Blame? Congress Is a Good Place to Start.”
Orlando Sentinel. 7 March 1995 (p. A8).
The Stonewall County Courier. “545 People Responsible for Country’s Problems.”
19 September 1985 (p. 1).

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