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Sen. Rounds: On Constitution Day, let’s rededicate ourselves to our founders' vision

FILE

FILE  (AP)

On Friday, September 16 we celebrate Constitution Day, a federal observance which celebrates the United States Constitution.

For the past 229 years, it has been our guiding document which has survived a civil war, the industrial revolution, two world wars, the civil rights era and the rise of a global marketplace.  

While our Constitution has been tested many times, this framework upon which we in Congress are to legislate is also the framework that protects our citizens from a government that would take away our freedoms.

When drafting the Constitution, our founders recognized the need for a central government, but only one which had specific, delineated powers.

They knew they must create a strong, unified government among the states, but it could not be an all-encompassing federal power. Thus they created the 10th Amendment to limit the federal government's ability to expand its power and avoid it becoming an all-powerful entity they had just fought so hard to free themselves from.

Unfortunately, that is what we are experiencing today: a growing executive branch whose over-involvement can be felt in nearly every aspect of our lives.  

Our Constitution allows the executive branch to administer laws passed by Congress, and we recognize that the executive branch may create limited rules and regulations to administer the law.

Today, the executive branch has over-extended this rulemaking authority, effectively becoming its own lawmaking body.

There are currently more than a million federal regulations on the books today, costing Americans approximately $1.9 trillion annually, far more than the $1.4 trillion we pay in federal income taxes each year on April 15. It is a far cry from the image of America our founding fathers envisioned when they adopted the Constitution.

But there is good news. Despite our challenges, the United States remains the greatest, strongest and most resilient country that has ever existed, and we haven't veered so far off that we can't get back on track.  

As we recognize Constitution Day, we should also focus on another historic event in our future. In the year 2026, our country will celebrate its 250th birthday.

In the next 10 years leading up to that landmark celebration, I believe we should recommit ourselves to the original principles of our founding fathers.  

Over the next 10 years, let us rededicate ourselves to providing for the common defense of our nation, so that in 2026 we have a renewed and invigorated national defense strategy that protects against those who wish to do us harm.

Over the next 10 years, let us promote the common good though a bountiful economy, including a tax system which invites economic growth, instead of hindering it.

Over the next 10 years, let us untie the bonds of bureaucracy and regulatory overreach, allowing for innovation and free expression of new ideas.

Over the next 10 years, let us create a sustainable safety net to care for those who cannot take care of themselves -- the very young, and the very old.

Our founders created the Constitution to provide for a limited government, and also to protect us individually from government overreach.

They created a government with specific responsibilities and limited authority, allowing our citizens to pursue their own American dream.

Unfortunately, too many Americans today feel the weight of a Washington-based, top-down government.

We must change that, and we can do so by refocusing our efforts to what our founders envisioned.

Let us begin planning today for the celebration of our country's 250th birthday.

In 10 short years, let us pass on to the next generation all of the freedoms and opportunities that our founders envisioned

Marion Michael "Mike" Rounds is the junior senator from South Dakota, currently serving his first term in office. He serves on four committees: Senate Armed Services; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Veterans' Affairs and Environment and Public Works. Prior to working in the Senate, Rounds served as governor of South Dakota and state senator in South Dakota, serving six years as Senate Majority Leader.

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