Interview Howard Phillips - Part 1 - EC311

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Interview Howard Phillips, Part 1
Course: Course - Easy Chair Series
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 23
Length: 0:57:11
TapeCode: ec311
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Easy Chair Series.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 311, March 18, 1994.

This afternoon Otto Scott and I are happy to have with us as our guest Howard Phillips. Howard Phillips is the head of the Conservative Caucus and also the Tax Payer’s Party. Howard ran for president on that ticket and he is making an eloquent witness to the fact that our country is in a political and especially a moral bind, that we have reached an impasse that is very critical and one we, as Christians cannot avoid. In the past few months I have had telephone callers from abroad tell me they sympathize with us for having to live under the conditions that exist because the international media has very accurate in calling attention to the Washington scandals, far more than our media. It is a moral crisis and while it is being manifest on the political front, there will be no solution to it until we confront it on the moral and religious sector.

And before I turn the discussion over to Howard, I would like to call attention to what one scholar, now retired professor, a Harvard. Ph.D. and one of the most brilliant men I have ever met. His statement was that as long as cultural Calvinism prevailed in this country we had an eloquent witness that kept us on a somewhat steady course, in spite of problems. The Princeton Theological Review from 1828 until early in this century dealt with the issues of our time. It had a cultural impact in that it considered things on all fronts. [00:03:05]

Samuel Blumenfeld of our staff who some years ago read...[edit]

Samuel Blumenfeld of our staff who some years ago read through the many volumes of the Princeton Theological Review told me that he regarded it as the greatest body of writing in the United States. I hope that there will be forthcoming some time financing so that at least some of the articles from the Princeton Theological Review can be reprinted and serve as a stimulus to the churches of this country again to see their total responsibility.

Well, with that rather long introduction, Howard, would you like to share with us your perspective on things in Washington, DC?

[Phillips] I would, Rush, and thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to be with you and Otto. It is always an honor to be in your company and I am eternally grateful for the instruction which you have provided each of us in particular.

The problem facing the United States derives from the fact that our forces have not had a plan for winning. The Christian right, conservatives have been very good critics, but we have not effectively articulated our vision of a just society and the way in which we are going to move there. The reason why the Christian Reconstruction movement is of historic consequence is that it proceeds from the right standard, the right premise, the only premise. And because it not only analyzes what is wrong with society and how we arrived in our present difficulties, it also makes clear how relying on the Bible we can work our way into restoring righteousness and justice and restoring Christian civilization here and throughout the world.

If you look at the history of the 20th century, it is a century in which conservatives—and, although I am not a theologian, I would say Christians in general—have had a strategy of losing as slowly as possible. They have assumed that events were beyond their control, that their only choice was between the train going over the cliff at 100 miles an hour and one going over the cliff at 60 miles an hour. Very few of them have recognized that it is possible to choose a different train proceeding in an opposite direction.

If we look at the politics of this century, whether we speak of Woodrow Wilson or Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman or John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, each of them came to play. Each of them had an agenda for moving this country further in the direction of the bureaucratic state, Socialism, Welfarism, whatever. [00:06:47]

Woodrow Wilson presided over a period in which we were...[edit]

Woodrow Wilson presided over a period in which we were left with many things which were unwise, World War I. Versailles, the Fed, the income tax, the 17th Amendment, much more.

When Harding and Coolidge came in they spoke of a return to normalcy. They did not try to undo the harm which had been done. They simply accepted it as a given with which they must live.

FDR fundamentally altered the nature of the American polity as did Truman, his successor. But when the Republicans came to power in 1953 they lacked the energy or the vision to challenge the misdirection which they inherited. They simply built on top of it. Indeed, moving it further in that direction.

Kennedy and Johnson with the Great Society again radically transformed the nation of our country. Yet at the end of the Johnson presidency when Richard Nixon came in, he consolidated and expanded that which he inherited.

The same thing was true even under Reagan who is regarded by man has having been a significant conservative president. One need only look at the dramatic expansion of the federal debt which tripled during Reagan’s presidency. One need only look at the dramatic increases in federal taxes and spending under Reagan to realize that there was no fundamental change of direction.

In my own experience in government I learned that what really counts is the budget. Whatever politicians say, if it is in the budget, their words belie by their expenditures. If it is not in the budget, whatever they say to the contrary is of little consequence.

The situation persists today. We can look at some particular examples: the case of socialized medicine. Bill and Hillary have come up with a very radical plan for sovietizing American medicine and transferring to government decisions over who will be treated, how they will be treated, when they will be treated, by whom they will be treated and what cost they will be treated and, indeed, whether they will be treated. The American people, by all accounts, have rejected that plan. Yet the Republicans are, in effect, the saviors of some modified version of it because they don’t want to be perceived as being insensitive to these problems which the Clintons have raised. [00:09:34]

So the bottom line is that R...[edit]

So the bottom line is that R. L. Dabney was correct when in the 19th century observed that the difference between a Liberal and a Conservative is about 20 years. And that isn’t enough.

So what I see is that country is going to continue on the road to collapse unless we can bring the government a ... bring to power a government which will put out of business the things which the government ought not be doing and return the federal government to its original constitutional boundaries. Government does not save souls. It is not an instrument of salvation. But it can cause a great deal of harm and what we can do is limit the harm that government does by cutting off the money.

Much of the evil in our society has been underwritten with tax dollars whether it is the Marxist propaganda at our universities or the pornography movement or the left wing propaganda of public broadcasting or the National Endowment for the Arts and the so-called AIDS education program which subsidizes the homosexual movement, the funding of Planned Parenthood, Welfarism. Not only does this fund bad causes and instill anti Christian values, it also puts in the field a permanent army of left wingers who have guaranteed annual salaries while our side must labor ever longer to subsidize its adversaries.

So I believe that what we need to do is prepare ourselves not just to win an election, which is an essential prerequisite, but also to govern and to know what to do when we are going to get there. We need to offer people the prospect that real change is possible. One of the greatest myths perpetrated by our enemies is that there is no hope, that there is nothing that can be done about it. But it is possible within the system to bring about profound changes. It is possible to end abortion. It is possible to retard the homosexual movement. It is possible to get rid of the income tax. It is possible to return to sound money. But there needs to be a will and a plan to bring it about.

My own view is that we have the problem of so many of our natural lies having become passive, having assumed that words are the correlatives or the substitutes for action which they are not and I am afraid it is going to take a major crisis to shock them out of their shoes and prepare them to take action. [00:12:12]

One last point, because I know this is turning into...[edit]

One last point, because I know this is turning into a filibuster. Otto and I have been chatting this morning about the need for us to gain access to microphones and that is a point that Otto has made for a long time. It is a very essential point. We need to have a strategy for creating systems of communication by which people friendly to our views can be employed and by means of which our messages can be communicated.

[Rushdoony] Otto?

[Scott] Well, I think that is a very important point, as you have said. In looking at the great changes in English history, the greatest change which ushered in the only republic in the history of England, England was a republic for roughly 12 years under Cromwell. It is the only period in their long history in which they didn’t have a king. And it began with men standing up before an authoritarian all powerful government and stating their opinions without being confined to the correct opinion.

Now the Church of England at that time had a correct opinion and they would send spies into the various churches to find out if the preacher took issue with any of the tenets of the government church. The Church of England was a part of the government. The spies would write down what the preacher had said that dissented to any of those tenets and then the preacher would be called into the high commission and the high commission would begin by asking them to swear to tell the truth, much as our Congress calls men in and asks them to swear to tell the truth.

And one of those men said, “I will not swear until I know to what I swear.”

In other words he wanted to know what were the charges. And when he was told finally what the charges were, he said, “Those are very important charges. I want a lawyer.”

Now he didn’t win in the long run, but everyone who came after him took the same position. Nobody so far as I know in our time has taken that position with Congress. You are called in to Congress and you are told to take an oath to answer truthfully all questions put to you. You are not allowed to have a lawyer speak for you. As a great concession you are allowed to have a lawyer sit beside you and whisper into your ear, but you are not allowed to be represented by a lawyer. You are not told if you are under a charge of any kind because it is an inquiry and they say you are not on trial. This is simply a hearing. [00:15:23]

But the high commission said the same thing...[edit]

But the high commission said the same thing. It was not a trial. It was not a court. Since it was not a court, you had no right to a lawyer. And since it was not a trial in which your life was in jeopardy or your property, then you had no need for a lawyer.

Now one of the reasons for the Civil War was that the English said, “We don't want to put up with this kind of arrogance and abuse any longer. If we are called in to answer to the authorities in any kind of inquiry, we want to have a charge. We want to have a lawyer. We want to have our rights.”

Now nobody has ever stood up to the Congress of the United States as far as I know and said to the assembled senators or the representatives, “I do not want to be abused here. I want a lawyer. I want my rights as a citizen. I do not want to be tried in an extracurricular group that calls itself not a court, but the Congress.”

Now we have a Congress that handles all the money of the federal government. It pays the judges. It pays all the bureaucracy. It pays the president and the pay master calls the tune. For over 50 years for 60 odd years, 62, to be technical, 63, perhaps 61, we have been governed by a Democratic Congress who has governed the United States. One party has governed the United States for two generations and I have yet to hear any coherent argument against this one party government. Each man runs for office on his own coattails, so to speak, takes care of himself and the result is that we have a Congress that calls citizens in before it and undergoes inquisitions. We have a Congress that is in control of the other branches of government. We have not real opposition party in this country. And it is more than time that we had one. [00:17:59]

[Rushdoony] Well, Congress has reached a point where...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Well, Congress has reached a point where it is like the entire federal government beyond the law. One of the legal points that very few people appreciate today is—and it goes back over the centuries—a sovereign is the source of law and cannot be under law. This is why Congress can pass a balance bill, a budget bill. It can pass all kinds of civil rights bill. It is exempt from all of these and even if it puts itself under them, it is not bound, because a sovereign is never under law. He is the source of law.

Well, this is one reason why the word “sovereignty” was totally omitted in the Constitutional Convention and in the Constitution. Washington described it as a fire out of control when sovereignty was claimed on the human level.

As a result, we have a civil government in Washington that sees itself, as do other civil governments around the world, as God walking on earth. It has not only the claim to sovereignty, but the whole of the Hegelian philosophy to buttress that position that the state is God walking on earth. And there is no way you can question a god. You simply have to say, “You are not God. Therefore we are not under your authority.”

So the heart of our problem is a theological one. We have allowed this concept to come in. It has had a long and steady history. It was denounced by John Quincy Adams. Marshall of the Supreme Court first began to think in those terms because he thought in terms of traditional English law. He was a good man in many respects, but he, as a lawyer, went to that tradition for his continuity and brought it over. And little by little the Supreme Court has since the 20s made it a part of American doctrine, the 1920s.

So the idea of congressional reform is absurd. Congress cannot be reformed until this judicial doctrine is denied. [00:21:07]

[Phillips] There is much that goes back to the rejection...[edit]

[Phillips] There is much that goes back to the rejection of the 10th Amendment.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Phillips] ...punctuating the Bill of Rights which said, clearly, the federal government has no authority except that which the several states have conceded to it. And if the authority is not explicitly granted, it does not exist. And as Congress came to forget that and much of that happened in the 19th century and the period leading up to the war between the states and during the war between the states, then these other problems arose. And, of course, they were exacerbated by the 14th Amendment which made people citizens of the United States before they were citizens of their respective states. And I think what we need to do is just as we assert the plain text of the Bible as reflecting truth to which we are accountable, then politically even though the Constitution is an imperfect human document that it offers boundaries which are more congenial to our purposes than others which are likely to be available from other sources. And we should therefore suggest that as long as we operate under this political dispensation, that we should adhere to the plain text of the Constitution. And I think that is a good strategy for us to pursue in trying to disarm, disable and defund those who are the enemies of what we believe.

[Rushdoony] We were discussing this matter of citizenship last night, you remember, and as we both recalled at one time you could only become a citizen of the United States if you were a citizen of a particular state in the union. And you called attention to the present situation in Lichtenstein. I think that would be important to...

[Phillips] I would be delighted to mention it.

We... through the Conservative Caucus {?} in 1993 took about 85 people over on a trip which we called a visit to the new world order. We were studying the implications of the Maastricht Treaty not only on Europe, but on the world at large. One of our stops was in Lichtenstein which, I guess, is a Duchy and... or, no, it is a principality, the Principality of Lichtenstein, the Duchy of Luxembourg. We met with a member of the royal family, Prince Nicklaus and Prince Nicklaus was an extremely gracious host even though he was far more sympathetic to the idea of a European community than we.

And in the course of conversation with the prince I said, “You have a lovely country here. People live prosperously. They live in peace. There is very little crime. You don’t seem to have an immigration problem. How do you explain it?”

And he said, “Well, it is very simple. Before someone becomes a citizen of the nation he must become a citizen of the village or of the local political unit. And he cannot become a citizen of the village without having resided within it for at least 10 years and then after the 10 years the people who live in the village take a vote to determine whether he shall be admitted to citizenship.”

That sounds in many ways like a pretty superior system.

[Rushdoony] Yes. [00:24:37]

[Scott] It is a very interesting thing...[edit]

[Scott] It is a very interesting thing. I think sometimes that as Americans we have become over educated. We know so much about so much and that everything sounds formatively intricate and complicated and so forth.

In 1869 Henry Adams put the whole situation very simply. He was living in Washington and watching the politicians. He said the American dream was that the people would be able to limit the government. That was the American dream. It wasn’t buying a house. And he said the Europeans laughed at that idea because all governments up until then, up until ours was formed on the usual basis of the government limiting the people. This country began the late 1700s with the opposite idea that the people could limit the government. The constitution was written as a series of limitations upon the government. The Bill of Rights each strike set the government shall not. There are 10 shall nots. And in 1869 instead of returning to the shall nots, the abolitionist Congress voted in government shall. And it said after each of these shalls and you mentioned them, the 14th and 15th Amendment and established enabling legislation. So they laid out new principles of action and then gave themselves the power to make new legislation, new laws to enact those powers.

And Adams... it is interesting. It was a very simple thing that once the government started to limit the people Adams abandoned the study of American politics. He said the government will go bankrupt. American liberty will be destroyed and he stopped writing about politics for the rest of his life. He was only in his 30s. He spent the rest of his time as a professor of history and enjoyed his money in travel. He gave us up by 1869. [00:27:17]

[Rushdoony] One of the things that we forget when we...[edit]

[Rushdoony] One of the things that we forget when we study American history is that the Constitution was so designed that change would come slowly. On top of that in those early years both the Congress and the Supreme Court met very briefly, a couple of weeks only. As a result the possibility of redirecting the country was limited. It had to be very slow.

Well, with the rise of the Abolitionists we had a temper come into politics that demanded change as of yesterday. Things had to be turned around at once. And ever since then politics has been dominated by the demand for instant change. And this is a very dangerous temperament. It is one that puts fanatics, rabble rousers out in front so that whether they are agitating for something to like or something you don’t like, you have dangerous people in charge. They want a quick fix on everything and, as a result, the impact on the country has been devastating and ill considered changes have been commonplace in our history and Congress mandates this and that before they really reflected on what they are doing.

[Scott] I am glad you mentioned that, because there were drastic changes that caused Henry Adams to say the American dream was over. And these drastic changes that you talk about had been continuing.

One of the odd things about them is that there is total inattention to the results. We have had sweeping changes launched by the Supreme Court, by Congress or by the Court acting under the direction of Congress without any evaluations. There hasn’t been a single session of Congress that has done an evaluation on what it has doing up to then or what the results have been. And it is amazing that a country with all these educated people, that the greatest number of schools and research labs and sociologists and social scientists and so forth has never undertaken a national reevaluation of its position. [00:30:16]

[Phillips] Otto, the central premise or a central premise...[edit]

[Phillips] Otto, the central premise or a central premise of the free society is that to the degree that decision making is politicized and governmentalized, it needs to be held accountable through the political process. Increasingly, the political process is not accountable to the citizenry. And this lack of accountability has many reasons for it. The very fact that Congress can establish its own pay gives it a freedom from accountability. The very fact that the Congress can establish pension programs to enrich themselves, to enrich members of Congress, renders them immune from accountability. One of the reasons I like Andy Jackson is that he favored the spoil system which is a form of accountability. Civil Service makes it difficult for people to hold the president accountable because he cannot hire and fire at will on the basis of accountability to his policies and to his objectives.

The loss of accountability is also reflected in many things to which you gentlemen have alluded in pervious tapes. The unaccountable system of bureaucratic regulation where invisible people can put pen to paper, have it published in the Federal Register and have it carry with it the force of law, a lack of accountability of the judiciary to any fixed standard.

We see a new challenge to political accountability in the way in which our resources and control over decisions is being transferred overseas to many new instrumentalities of a so-called new world order, whether it is NAFTA or the international monetary fund or the European bank for reconstruction and development, whatever it may be.

The Federal Reserve system is a challenge to accountability because it politicizes the value of our money and it... and if the ... if a... an agency which itself is not truly accountable is able to change at whim the... the level of interest, the worth of the dollars we hold, the rate of inflation, then the whole system is corrupted. And then, of course, under Lyndon Johnson another great threat to accountability was the creation of government by non profit corporation where the bureaucracy began giving out scores of billions of dollars to private organizations, legal services projects, community action agencies, many, many others, many different categories, which were involved not simply in delivering services, but in creating policies within their realm. And not only creating policies, but lobbying, litigating, proselytizing, publicizing, propagandizing for the views of the people who happened to be the favorite beneficiaries of federal money. [00:33:18]

So we are in a situation where the federal treasury...[edit]

So we are in a situation where the federal treasury has become a cookie jar, a war chest for the enemies of individual liberty. And it seems to me that we will not restore accountability of any of the aspects of our political system unless we are able to cut off the funding to all of these entities, regulatory, international, private, quasi judicial, et cetera, which usurp authority from the people and from the legitimate elected representatives of the people who in their case it can’t be called usurpation because they have actively surrendered authority in order to increase their own freedom from being held responsible for the decisions they make and don’t make.

[Rushdoony] There is another aspect to our history that I think is important. When I was a student in the 30s at the university, more than one professor in describing our history said that one of the marked changes—and they didn’t necessarily disagree with this—in American history was that we began in the constitutional era with a marked distrust of man and of agencies of state and society. In other words, a belief that there was a depravity or sin that governed them. Of course, not being Christian, these scholars tried to ascribe it to a classical distrust of the people. But it was a distrust not only of the commoners, but of people on all levels. And as they pointed out we now have a radical trust in man. We have gone from “in God we trust” to “in man we trust.” And this has had devastating results.

Carl Sandberg wrote a long foolish thing titled {?}

[multiple voices]

[Rushdoony] ...the people yes. Well, then you have no higher law, the people are the law.

[Phillips] Man’s law has been tempted to get man’s law to repeal and supersede God’s law. It doesn't work. It can’t be repealed by act of Congress.

[Scott] But we have done something else. Congress escaped the limits of the Constitution. There is a principle which was expressed by John Locke at the end of the English Civil War period called delegation of powers. [00:36:12]

One of the reasons for the war in the first place against...[edit]

One of the reasons for the war in the first place against the king was that the king appointed agents and the agents went around taking money from rich men under the guise of a loan which, of course, was never to be repaid. And each one had the power of the king. The king made him an agent.

Locke said delegated powers are inherently unjust. The reign, the realm only needs one king at a time. It can’t afford a whole bunch of them. The powers of every office are limited to the office. Now Congress’ powers were limited to making the laws. When it delegated powers to make the law to agencies it exceeded its own powers. When it gave agencies the right to set up inspectors and courts of its own, it took the powers of the president and the powers of the judiciary and put them into the agencies which it created illegally.

Now everyone in Congress knows that the bureaucracy is illegally created. Senator Biden had an exchange on this subject with Judge Thomas during his nomination hearings in which he asked Judge Thomas if he was against this and Judge Thomas said that he was. And Biden said, “But you realize that if this were to occur, if this were to falter, it would change our entire government.” And Thomas said, “It should be changed.”

This is not a secret that Congress operates unconstitutionally and illegally. And we are living in a situation where I dare say a million people know this and yet not a voice is raised.

Now there is no substitute for courage. You cannot change anything unless you have two qualities. First is the quality to admit error and second the courage to change error. And it cannot be done unless we have new group arising that will explain these errors and remind the American people that they have constitutional rights which have been stealthily taken away.

[Rushdoony] Congress has become our sacred and holy church. And it needs to be challenged as a false church whose ways are destructive of our society. [00:39:11]

[Phillips] We need to have a people which is prepared...[edit]

[Phillips] We need to have a people which is prepared to move from passivity and the role of spectator to the role of activist.

[Rushdoony] Yes, yes.

[Phillips] And one of the tragedies is that it is possible to take our government back and while each of us complains, very few of us give their time, their money, their energy toward retaking the system. They are content to simply watch it go slowly as long as it doesn’t all collapse on their watch.

My prayer is that before we reach a point of no return people will recognize that there is a great deal that can be done...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Phillips] ...to take this country back.

[Rushdoony] Well, as I mentioned last night we have a few hundred counties that have rejected all federal funds. In effect they have seceded from Washington and said, “We are going to go back to an old American pattern.” We have a state moving in that direction, Wyoming, which has refused all these years now to go along with the one man one vote premise. I think it is 20 years. And they have refused to go along with a treaty between the United States and Mexico involving Arizona and California in which Wyoming water is disposed of without Wyoming’s consent.

So there are hopeful signs that some elements in the federal system are saying no.

[Scott] I understand that there is a movement to revive Madison’s amendment which, I believe was one of the first two... first one first or the second original amendments to the Bill of Rights which at that time did not pass ratification, to take away a sitting Congress’ right to raise its own salary. It could only raise the salary of subsequent Congresses and not of its own.

[Phillips] If my memory is correct, I think that has in fact been added.

[Scott] It has been added.

[Phillips] ... to... to the Constitution. My belief is that we need to go even beyond that and restore, not restore, but place in the hands of the state legislatures the authority to establish the pay of that state’s representatives in Washington. My platform is very simple. Zero pay from the federal treasury for Senators and Congressmen, because he who pays the piper does call the tune. The loss of the 17th Amendment or the enactment of it was a tragedy because when Senators were elected by state legislatures they were reminded that they were accountable to the states. The power of big media and big money was to some extent diminished and it was possible for people to really hold them close. [00:42:42]

It is unconscionable that the people of California...[edit]

It is unconscionable that the people of California should have to help pay Ted Kennedy’s salary or Barney Frank’s or that the people of Massachusetts should have to pay the salaries of Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein. Each should be responsible of their own sins. And if the people of the state wish to pay their senators and their congressmen an exorbitant amount, let it be their decision. But as long as they can set their own pay, we are in trouble. But that is just one step that needs to be taken.

The real problem is that Congress has been using the federal treasury to purchase reelection with our money by buying our votes. And election to Congress has become so expensive, particularly to the United States Senate, that you see more and more millionaires on the one hand and on the other hand people who are increasingly dependent upon contributions from corporate interests, non profit groups, et cetera, which feed at the federal trough and are simply buying their tickets of entry.

One of the worst laws ever passed in my view was the statute... was the 1974 legislation amending the federal election laws to create the federal election commission and to place severe limits on what one could give to a candidate for federal office.

The way things now stand, if you wish to run for the U.S. Senate and you have the money to put five or 10 million dollars in from your own account you can do so, but if you are a working person you can’t collect more than 1000 dollars per election cycle from someone else. So that means that you either sell your soul to get the money or you have to be very rich to begin with.

There are many, many problems with our political system which are the result of departures from the original design.

[Scott] I would say that a very salutary amendment would be to insist that members of Congress abide by the laws they enact for the rest of us.

[Phillips] And, prayerfully, that would cause them to repeal many of them. And one of the laws to which they are not accountable is the Americans with Disabilities Act which among other things requires restaurateurs to hire AIDS infected homosexuals for food handling positions if they are otherwise qualified. If members of Congress realized the absurdity, the high cost, the inconvenience and the immorality of so much of what they have imposed on the rest of us, perhaps they would go more cautiously, rather than impose the laws on Congress which is an important intermediate step. I would rather have them repeal the laws on us which is ... which should b our goal. [00:45:37]

But in terms of where the country is going, we continue...[edit]

But in terms of where the country is going, we continue to do what we can to build our new Taxpayers’ Party in which Ted Adams is our national chairman. He is a airline pilot for United Airlines from South Carolina. We have a problem of ballot access. That is a problem that has to be revisited every couple of years. The laws institutionalize the Republicans and the Democrats. It costs about five million dollars to get on the ballot in all 50 states. In 1992 we spent about 375,000 dollars getting on the ballot in 21 states. Unfortunately in places like California there were two or three states where we were able to take advantage of preexisting parties which were willing to cooperate with us and we are very grateful, for example, to the American Independent Party of California for allying itself with our efforts.

But once you have reached the starting gate with that expenditure of five million dollar, unless there is a substantial amount of money to gain media access, there is a great mountain to climb. The Democrats, the Republicans and Ross Perot all were able to spend in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 million dollars. Perot put his money in, much of which had been acquired as a result of lucrative contracts with the federal government over the years. The others put in money which to a large extent was from the federal treasury.

I personally don’t believe that the government should subsidize elections in any way any more than they should subsidize education or institutions of religion or what have you. But, nonetheless, that is the advantage that the incumbent parties have. And it is very important for us to, within the law, work around that system by helping create systems of communication, formal and informal, which enable us to get our story out.

[Rushdoony] You know there are a couple of books that have been put out in the last few years the title of which is How to Get Free Money.

[Phillips] Well, there is a lot of so-called free money available from the government.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Phillips] There are ... there are many firms which do very well simply by advising clients how to receive government grants. [00:48:05]

One of the lessons I learned when I was heading the...[edit]

One of the lessons I learned when I was heading the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity is that in many cases the bureaucrats would create organizations simply for the purpose of spending money that was appropriated to their particular agency and that many of the entities which they then funded had the explicit purpose of creating other entities which would become beneficiaries of federal support and funding.

[Rushdoony] That is exactly what both of these books were about, telling you how much money was available, how to apply for it, what you could do to get it and so on.

[Phillips] And we are talking about scores of scores of billions of dollars. And the tragedy is that we haven’t had a president in our lifetime who has been willing to cut that off. The tragedy is that Nixon increased the funding for it. Reagan increased the funding for it. Bush increased the funding for it. We can expect that the Democrats would, but we had reason to believe otherwise.

Article one, section nine of the Constitution makes clear that federal.... that money can be expended from the federal treasury in only one of two ways, either Congress passes a money bill and the President signs it into law or Congress passes a money bill, the President vetoes it and the veto is overwritten. If a President says, “I will sign no bill that has in it one penny for the Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts,” whatever it may be, and if the President’s veto is sustained by one third plus one in one house, 34 Senators or 145 Representatives in Congress, the money can’t be spent. And the idea that it is impossible to close down the Department of Education, impossible to close down the Department of Housing and Urban Development is pure mythology. It can’t be done.

One thing I did want to mention before we close is the talk about the difficulties in which Bill and Hillary have found themselves. We can’t cover the whole ground in a brief time remaining, but I think it is very important for us to see to it that the President and his team are held accountable to a constitutional standard. I think one consequence of holding them accountable is that the leftward momentum which is a corollary of their electoral success in 1992 will be brief. I lived through the Nixon administration. I was not on the Watergate account, but I watched it and I know that even though the Nixon administration had many serious flaws, they had some desire to roll back some portions of the Great Society in the wake of the massive defeat of George McGovern in ‘72. But they were demoralized and, in effect, discredited by the way in which they dealt with the Watergate scandal. [00:51:02]

Even if Al Gore becomes president in Clinton’s stead...[edit]

Even if Al Gore becomes president in Clinton’s stead, it will be much harder for the left to maintain its momentum if Clinton is forced to surrender office. My own view is that the will not serve out his term.

[Rushdoony] I would like to go back to history again. One of the things that I did some years ago, this is 25, 30 years ago, was to read the Richardson collection of presidential papers going back from George Washington through Coolidge or Harding, I forget which. Very interesting, especially the earlier papers. [00:51:52]

In recent years, in particular with Roosevelt, the...[edit]

In recent years, in particular with Roosevelt, the presidential papers, messages to Congress have become propaganda pieces, party propositions. But in the pre Civil War era in particular the attitude of the presidents was that they even more than the Supreme Court had the duty of judicial review, that they had to say, “I cannot sign this because it is unconstitutional.” And most of the vetoes were for that reason. They did not feel that it was constitutional.

Now I believe in terms of the precedent they set that a present day president could institute a line by line veto and say, “I feel that this is valid and a part of my duty,” and ask the courts to pass on it.

[Phillips] Rush, there is substantial legal support for what you have just articulated. Many people advocating line item veto amendment to the constitution. I would oppose that amendment because I don’t think it is necessary and I think it would be dangerous. I would not like to give Bill Clinton powers that he does not already have whereby he could take a defense budget and say, “I am for subsidizing the sensitivity training of people to women in the military, but I don’t want to subsidize the defense of the nation,” which he could do with a line item veto.

Under the present constitutional arrangement, what a president can say is, “You have given a massive appropriation bill. It has money in it for education, for defense, for welfare. I am vetoing the education. I am vetoing the welfare, but I am keeping the defense, because what you have done is put together apples and oranges.”

[Rushdoony] Yes. [00:53:59]

[Phillips] And that is different from the concept of...[edit]

[Phillips] And that is different from the concept of the line item veto where within the same category, a president would have power well beyond that intended by the framers which would unsettle the system of separation of powers and checks and balances. Under the present system, the tragedy is we have not had presidents willing to assert their veto authority.

Reagan, for all of the complaining he did, never vetoed any of those unbalanced budgets. He would wave them on the television screen, but he would not veto them. The reason the national debt tripled on his watch is that he signed those unbalanced budgets into law and he never proposed a balanced budget.

If a president were to propose a balanced budget or better yet a constitutional budget which would be closer to 500 billion a year rather than 1.5 trillion and were he to say, “I will sign no budget in excess of this amount or for any purposes other than those which I have explicitly stipulated,” if he had sufficient popular support all that would be required would be 34 Senators to achieve the result.

So I think we have a lot to work with under the present document.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Well, there is... there is the... Charles Adams has written two books on taxation through the years and one of his summaries was that one group should not be allowed to both tax and spend, that the taxes should be enacted by one group and the spending by another, because to put it all together into the hands of one group is to wind up as we are under the control of one single legislative body.

[Phillips] Well, that is another problem, the move toward direct capitation taxes is very destructive of liberty. What I favor is the elimination of federal income tax, a return to reliance on exposed... on imposed excises and duties to the degree that there is a budgetary shortfall for legitimate constitutional expenditures, apportion the shortfall among the states and let the states in whatever matter their legislatures determine make up the shortfall. If the state wishes to do it with a sales tax or an income tax or by whatever means, that is within the purview of the people of the state. But it is very dangerous to eliminate that intervening authority, that mediating force of the states and let that distant federal tyranny operate directly on people who have to deal with what you pointed out to be a multitude of independent tyrannies.

[Rushdoony] Well, our time is up. Thank you all for listening and thank you, Howard.

[Phillips] Rush, God bless you. Thank you for having me. Otto, great to see you.