Separation of Powers--Does it Still Work?

By Robert A. Goldwin; Art Kaufman | Go to book overview

3
The Renewal of American Constitutionalism

Donald L. Robinson

There is growing evidence that the problems confronting the American constitutional system are outstripping its capacity. Our industrial plants are no longer competitive with those of Japan, France, South Korea, or Brazil, yet our government cannot decide whether to remove regulations or to impose more coordination and incentives. Our southern border is defenseless against illegal immigration, but our government cannot decide whether to fortify it or to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with our Latin neighbors. We are spending a dangerously high proportion of our substance on weapons that we must never use; yet our government cannot reach an agreement with the Soviet Union to stop at present levels, much less to begin to dismantle existing stockpiles.

Perhaps the most revealing example of the impotence of our system is its inability to live within its means. In 1983 the federal government spent $190 billion more than it raised. In 1984 the annual deficit was even greater, and it is expected to stay near $200 billion for the foreseeable future.* According to the Reagan administration's economic report, the cumulative federal debt will soon exceed $2 trillion. At rates of 10 percent, interest payments thereafter will consume at least the first $200 billion of revenue each year.

The opposition party always deplores deficits. No one was more adept at charging Democrats with "fiscal irresponsibility" than Ronald Reagan in his pundit days. Now Reagan is president, Republicans control the Senate, and it is the Democrats who rage that the defense

____________________
*
It may be years before we can assess the effects of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill. As Jonathan Rauch put it in the National Journal, January 4, 1986: "The New Balanced Budget Act may, as intended, help end the standoff between Congress and the President, but the untested statute could just as easily make matters worse than ever and perpetuate the deadlock."--EDS.

-38-

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Separation of Powers--Does it Still Work?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • The Editors and the Authors vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - To Form a Government 1
  • Notes 17
  • 2 - Political Parties and the Separation of Powers 18
  • Notes 36
  • 3 - The Renewal of American Constitutionalism 38
  • Conclusion 60
  • Notes 62
  • 4 - The Separation of Powers and Modern Forms of Democratic Government 65
  • Conclusions 83
  • Notes 85
  • 5 - The Separation of Powers Needs Major Revision 90
  • Conclusion 113
  • 6 - The Separation of Powers and Foreign Affairs 118
  • Notes 134
  • 7 - A 1787 Perspective on Separation of Powers 138
  • 8 - In Defense of Separation of Powers 168
  • Notes 191
  • A Note on the Book 195
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