Thirty-two lawmakers including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) outlined their conservative vision for America in an event Wednesday at The Heritage Foundation.

At the Conservative Policy Summit, hosted by our sister organization, Heritage Action for America, lawmakers reviewed the which conservative policies Congress will take up next year, which legislation conservatives should fight to advance, and how Congress can actually advance the conservative agenda.

The event included keynote remarks from Ryan, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC),  and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE).

To rein in government overreach, summit attendees argued that we should work towards a government that provides opportunity for all and favoritism to none. Sasse, for example, blamed bureaucracies like the Environmental Protection Agency for putting a damper on economic freedom and favoring well-connected Washington insiders.

What do you think? Is ever-expanding government the biggest threat to freedom? 

Comments (41)

Julie - February 8, 2016

I think RINOs like Paul Ryan who roll over and allow the Dems to push through their agenda are our biggest problem. We need conservative leaders who stand on principle and don’t back down. Paul Ryan is for amnesty and is just as bad a Speaker as John Boehner.

Tom O’Grady - February 8, 2016

Ever-expanding Government is a major threat to freedom, followed closely by a lazy, uninformed electorate which allows the enemy within to flourish!

Sharilee - February 8, 2016

Yes, big and ever bigger government is the biggest threat to economic growth and to our freedoms in every respect. Big government stymies growth with regulations that cost businesses more to operate and cause small business to fold.
Efforts by big government to control our choice of food, use of personal property, even how we worship and what we say are becoming more widespread. Religious freedom is being attacked more than ever, except for Muslims who seem to get a pass while Christians are under fire. Conservatives must stand for what they say they will when running for office.

Del Gardner - February 8, 2016

Paul Ryan – conservative?? Please explain to me how you can justify calling him a conservative?

Thanks. Del Gardner

Blanche Freeland - February 8, 2016

YES!! Using my first example, in the ACA, (what a misnomer!), the federal government is going to decide who gets into medical school and nurses training, and where each person will get that training! This was in the original bill passed by Congress and so far as I know it is still there!! What an awful intrusion into a privet life this would be!! I don’t recall at which date this is supposed to take effect, but it must be vetoed!!

Robert McWain - February 8, 2016

History keeps repeating its self.

John Hay - February 8, 2016

How does the old saying go, something about absolute power corrupts absolutely. It used to be that our representatives were called public service. Now they seem to think they are kings and queens. I believe if we paid them hey wage for their time and did not offer retirements and other benefits, and heavily penalize them if they accepted any kind of a bride or money for any reason that had to do with their public office, then maybe we would give people an office who wanted to help our country rather than get rich off of it.

Bill Coates - February 8, 2016

It is within the power of Congress to fix their own mistakes. Their biggest one was ‘delegating’ legislative functions. It was also a Constitutional violation.
The three-branched separation-of-powers system pioneered in American government has been much copied. Violations of that plan have brought us into a four-branched system that creates serious problems. This can be corrected.
Let us consider the matter of regulatory agencies. When legislators are under special-interest pressure to ‘do something’ and they fear a backlash at the polls, or know they lack the expertise to address the subject, they make an escape hatch. They use legislative power to create a separate government agency to deal with it. They assign the agency a subject to deal with, give general guidance, bestow some powers, and presto – the subject is off the legislature’s desk and in the executive branch.

Not so fast! The plan for America is that the citizens grant legislative power to one branch, executive power to another, and judicial power to a third. They are to counterbalance each other without encroaching on the rights retained by the people. Legislatures are supposed to write and pass into law all things having the force of law. The executive is to sign off on the laws and agree to enforce them. The judiciary considers executive complaints against citizens and decides on the validity of the complaint and the validity of the law.

Regulators are generally given the power to write their own regulations (legislative), bring accusations against people (executive), and impose penalties (judicial).
They also tend to be composed of precisely those people from whom our rights must be protected. They often seek appointment for the purpose of furthering some personal agenda or imposing their views and values on others. This combination of all powers in one entity with little or no appeal was one of the reasons for the Revolutionary War. Now it has returned.

How is it that a body possessing only legislative powers can create an unelected, unaccountable entity having legislative, executive, and judicial powers and turn it loose on the citizenry to do whatever it will? It is a great wrong against the people made subject to it. The founders foresaw this and provided a preventive or a remedy for it.

Legislators are to explicitly pass all things having force of law, so that they remain accountable to the people who granted them power and elected them. This is called a ‘republican’ form of government

Article 4, Section 4: The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government…

Dictionary: Republic: A state or nation in which the supreme power rests in all the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives elected, directly or indirectly, by them and responsible to them. (State constitutions have a clause similar to Art 4 Sec 4.)

Any legislation purporting to create an unelected, unaccountable oligarchy with all three powers is rendered null and void by Article 4 Section 4, however its members are selected and wherever it may be housed in the structure of government. It would be an oligarchy with absolute power over citizens in its subject area. This is not a republican form of government.

The dangers of this design are realized by the assessment of punitive damages far in excess of any actual damages, as a political statement by the administrative law judge. The agency is eager to prove its power by making an example of a defendant who is not in agreement with the agency’s agenda. Such proceedings must require the concurrence of a jury and a judge not associated with the agency, in deference to the Seventh Amendment.

The remedy, if such agencies are to exist at all, is that they must have the power of only one branch. Their regulations must be explicitly voted on by the legislators so that all lawmakers can be held responsible for the laws they create.

I further suggest that this principle can be applied to virtually all state and federal regulatory agencies. They are unelected, unaccountable entities which were unconstitutionally given, or which have unilaterally asserted, ever-increasing power over some arbitrary area of public and commercial life – to the great disadvantage of the general public. They originated in a time when the executive branch held a credible threat over the heads of the Supreme Court, which initially opposed them. They must be restrained, restructured, abolished, or replaced by fixed laws for which legislators can be held responsible. This approach should be used toward the FCC, IRS, EPA, NLRB, and FERC just for openers; also Obamacare’s oft-used ‘as the Secretary shall determine’.

Tim House - February 8, 2016

Government has FAR exceeded its proper function. I believe 4/5 of the physical government, property, employees, and functions could, and should, be eliminated, without harming its Constitutional function or effectiveness, at the least. The government has been, at the least, ignoring its Constitutional parameters for most of a century.

Linda Kaster - February 8, 2016

Yes, our expanding government is our biggest threat to our freedom.
1.Regulations about water on one’s own land
2.Shutting down coal mines
3.Prohibitions against land usage, because of an “endangered species”
4.Farm subsidies
5.Ethanol in gasoline
6.Health care
8.Energy in general
9.Etc., etc.
Several of these deal with energy. Solutions should be market driven and not government mandated. We need to get back to the duties listed for the federal government in The Constitution!

Bill Wainscott - February 8, 2016

The federal government is controlling issues the constitution did not grant them the power to and they have become bloated in their efforts. Sadly, I do not hear any of the Republican candidates for president making it an agenda item to downsize the government.

Mark Correale - February 8, 2016

Do you mean Rep. Ryan, the House Speaker?

Bob - February 8, 2016


Jerry Metcalf - February 8, 2016


Susan K Higley - February 8, 2016

They take more and more $$ through taxes and hidden taxes. Many departments are unnecessary such as Dept. of Education. Education should be a local priority. How about all of those Czars Obama put on the payroll? Do we still need an Ebola Czar and staff. Get rid of them. They all make up more rules and regulations. The climate change “science” is all a bunch of horse pucky. When I was in college in the ’60’s, the globe was “cooling” and we were advised to stock up with wool and down clothing. Tired of it all, especially financing all the illegal aliens here in California and the rest of the states. They seem to have more rights that citizens. Are we angry with Washington? You bet! Back off, and back out. Planned Parenthood? Why do we need them when we have “wonderful” unaffordable Obamacare? Get rid of that agency. I despise that my tax money is used to provide abortions/murder. And now if we complain about bringing in all these Muslims who rarely assimilate, we can be in trouble for hate speech. More rules and regulations. Sickening. Don’t mention any religious holidays – they get offended. Do Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews or any other group besides atheists get offended? Haven’t heard any complaining. The smaller the government, the bigger the citizen and the reverse. Government should be vastly smaller and give the people more freedoms.

Robert Jasken - February 8, 2016

Larger government takes freedom away
People and the cost will make us like Greece. It will cost people more and more

Fred Barksdale - February 8, 2016

An ever expanding government has the same effect as spraying water on a roaring fire. You desire a larger fire but more water (represented by increasing government and government agencies) will eventually dampen then extinguish the flame, then total darkness and cold sets in.

Donald B. Jeakins - February 8, 2016

Only 32 Law Makers showed up? They are out numbered 10 to 1 back in Washington by the established professional Politician’s . My view is the Voters better wake up, and Vote out of office every Congressman and Senator who his been in office OVER TWO TERMS ‘Period’ Pass a law that every Federal Worker pay into Social Security, do away with the government employees UNIONS. Bar all Super Pac’s from all elections..

Randall Carney - February 8, 2016


Gail - February 8, 2016

The more bloated the government grows, the leaner our freedoms become. It eats away at our abilities to plan, innovate and execute is hindered. Corporate corniness has reached dangerous, filthy levels that ignore We the People.

John - February 8, 2016

Predatory competition is the biggest threat to our freedom. Especially when power to compete resides in the hands of few. Adam Smith’s Industrial Capitalism is now old and tired at the age of 265. No more free land exists. Smith’s idea of all wealth originates in labour is totally ignored today in America. Like the game of Monopoly, it ends when one wins all the money. What will save capitalism is wealth redistribution. This time from the top to the bottom.

Gerald Eberwein - February 8, 2016

Absolutely, government overreach is a plague that is self feeding. The process in place today tries to reverse the pattern of gaining self worth personality improvement and self reliance goals all mankind strives to achieve. The slavery of the current welfare programs is abhorrent to mankind’s DNA. Government has no place in our daily lives or kitchens. The present trend toward destruction is reversible, but it will require many legislators to say no to the special interests and ultra-liberal concepts. The key to separating the wheat from the chaff ideas is to rely upon the down deep feeling we got as a child when we felt what we were about to do was no good. The sinking feeling is still alive and should be heeded. “If it don’t feel right; it ain’t.” There is no panacea to fix all. It must be taken a piece at a time. Like Speaker Ryan has put forth on the budget process. No more Omnibus bills. They always result in bad unintended consequences. Thanks for asking my opinion.

Helen - February 8, 2016

I’m glad to hear about the summit and the info about it. Also was glad to be reminded about the Magna Carta! (its’ been a long time since I studied it in school).

May God bless you all and help us to not lose our freedoms!

Linda G. White - February 9, 2016

Yes, ever expanding government has negatively impacted economic freedom. The EPA is one of the biggest offenders, but many of the other unconstitutional departments, bureaus and new directorships Pres. Obama has created have impeded Americans’ economic freedoms. We are being shackled by overregulation and unproven science.

Armand Carreau - February 9, 2016

Expanding government is a big threat, and will eventually collapse this society. But an even bigger threat is the federal government run school indoctrination and complicit media.

Kelly Skarphol - February 9, 2016

Yes !

Stephen T. Musser - February 9, 2016

As far as the pendulum has swung to the left over the last 7 years under Obama, it has to swing not only as much to the right but more and in one year. We need radical change and leadership that will endorse.

Lawson Hebb - February 9, 2016

We Need
Term Limits for Congress;
Tort Reform, making plaintiffs pay all costs if they lose a suit; and restrict lawyers fees to ten dollars an hour;
Eliminate the EPA, the IRS, and evict all of the lobbyist from the DC area JUST FOR STARTERS.

Jack Niday - February 9, 2016

Yes, expanding government is the greatest threat to our freedom. However, just as this president’s refusal to recognize the greatest threat to our personal security brings death and suffering to our people, so will “Heritage’s” failure to identify traitors in our ranks, (Paul Ryan), bring obstruction to our efforts to rein in and right this ship-of-state.
These RINOs speak conservatism but their actions produce liberalism and we hold them NOT to account.
I call on Heritage to be vigilant.

Bernard Holland - February 9, 2016

It is my opinion “If the American people would review their History, learn about the Jurisdiction of the Federal government, challenged the Federal Government’s authority and applied themselves to the situation rather than relying on others we should have no problem restraining the growth of government.” Thank you.

Gerald A. Pilley - February 9, 2016

Big government equals despotism.

Mary Craddock - February 9, 2016

Yes, I feel government overreach is taking over the western states. BLM, EPA, US Forest Service and FBI Are taking land from farmers, ranchers and people who have made their land their life. Only to have these government groups come in and tell them they can’t use their land, need to give their land up because of rules and regulations they come up with to hinder the people.

Edwin Arnold - February 9, 2016

It is the professional Politician that has allowed this to happen because they want their share and to be re-elected.
We should have a two term limit on all Senators and Congressmen. There should be no retirement for them other than what they save and Social Security.

Mimi Hooker - February 9, 2016

I absolutely agree that bigger government
makes even bigger problems and is a HUGE threat to freedoms we now enjoy. I do think many of our freedoms are being threatened each day.

In my opinion, government is doing it’s best to kill free enterprise, jobs, and make many dependent on government and “free” stuff” which has got to stop…now.

What many of us want to see is lawmakers forming an intent to make changes and then to act on those changes, pronto. Lawmakers have “caved” to this administration, thrown their constituents under the bus, allowing this president get away with anything he wants.

Perhaps a better way to say it is: quit talking and DO SOMETHING!

Henry C. Holder - February 9, 2016

No! Our leaders do not even consider the guidance provided in the Magna Carta. They consider more about being re-elected.

Henry C. Holder - February 9, 2016

Please replace the first comment as it belongs to another subject.

Henry C. Holder - February 9, 2016

Yes, because the government is ineffective, the politicians are greedy and feather their own nest.

Clair Williams - February 10, 2016

Yes, we cannot continue on this slide down into eternal indebtedness. I’m hoping one of our Republican nominees for President will already know this and take steps to halt and reverse it.

Frank - February 12, 2016

When Paul Ryan was being begged to be the speaker of the house I cringed thinking that there wouldn’t be a dimes worth of difference between him and John Boehner and events have proven me right.

What we have is our government is gross inefficiency, The bigger the government, the more ponderous it becomes and continues to viciously feed to reduce the aspirations and freedoms of the governed.

It is high time this comes to an end and our country returns to the ideals and dreams of our founders.

Roger Drake - February 13, 2016

Yes, ever expanding government is the biggest threat to our freedom. I fear it can only get worse when I see demonstrators on tv news shouting and waiving signs wanting socialism. We must have committed conservative leadership in the White House and Congress who will stand and fight this socialistic surge. it will be difficult, if not impossible, to elect them with the hoard of potential voters out there wanting everything for nothing.

Kenneth - February 14, 2016

32/435 = 0.07+, or 7+ %, of the House of Representatives: this is a small – extremely important – start by our elected National Representatives. The rest of us concerned, voting, citizens need to “encourage” each of our U.S. Representatives to pick up the conservative banner to support solutions to situations that likely benefit All of the People.

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