Ed Meese: ‘Mt. Vernon Statement’ by Conservatives Reasserts Founders’ Principles, Is an 'Antidote' to Big Government Liberalism

By Nicholas Ballasy | February 18, 2010 | 3:18 PM EST

Image of 'The Mount Vernon Statement,' signed by conservative leaders on Feb. 17, 2010.

(CNSNews.com) - Former Reagan Administration Attorney General Edwin Meese told CNSNews.com that The Mount Vernon Statement, signed by conservative leaders on Feb. 17, is  “a reassertion of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution” as “an antidote” to big-government liberalism.
“Preparation of the statement started sometime ago, but it was reflective of the fact that, to some extent even in the last administration, or during the last administration, Congress had vastly increased spending, increased the power of the federal government,” Meese told CNSNews.com at the signing of the statement at the Collingwood Museum and Library in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday. Collingwood is part of George Washington’s former estate.
“Then, when the current administration took over in both Houses of Congress and the leadership and in the White House, there was a tremendous drift in that direction of more governmental power, more governmental spending, less individual freedom,” said Messe, “and so that’s why I think the statement is a, if you will, a reassertion of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as an antidote to some of those ideas.”

“We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding,” reads the document, entitled The Mount Vernon Statement. “Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.”
Meese said that the statement goes beyond political party affiliation.
“This goes beyond the party,” he said. “I’m sure there are a lot of thinking Democrats who would be happy to sign this statement, along with the vast majority of independents, as well as, hopefully, an equally vast number of Republicans.”
Phil Kerpen, the vice president of policy for Americans for Prosperity, said the statement stresses the “important of the rule of law.”
“I think the most important thing about the statement today is stressing the importance of the rule of law and operating through the proper channels that are established by the U.S. Constitution,” Kerpen told CNSNews.com. “It’s one thing when a bad law passes because you can undue that bad law with a good law. It’s another thing entirely when we undermine our whole system of rule of law the way we saw the bondholders shaken down in the Chrysler bankruptcy, for instance, and now when we’re seeing circumventions of the normal legislative process.”
“What I mean by that,” said Kerpen, “is while we’ve seen the president’s agenda grind to a halt in Congress for the most part -- we see the cap and trade bill dead, we see efforts in internet regulation dead, we see card check dead -- all of these efforts are now being pursued through regulatory agencies in darkness, without the light of day and not through the proper constitutional channels.”
“So, we have the EPA pursuing the global warming agenda, it’s actually more aggressive than cap and trade,” said Kerpen. “We have the FCC trying to regulate the Internet without a vote of Congress. We have the potential of the National Labor Relations Board pursuing a card check-like agenda without a vote of Congress.”
Kerpen said these actions go against the rule of law.
“And I even suspect that when this health care bill goes down, we’ll see them try to do many parts of it through HHS action,” he said.  “So, I think that the real danger here is that if we don’t expect the rule of law, respect the structure of government that the Constitution created, we can have a complete collapse in the way policies are supposed to be made in this country that subverts the will of the voters and allows this administration to really move us in a far left radical direction without even having so much as a vote of Congress.”
Jim Martin, President of the 60 Plus Association came to the signing because he is “frustrated” with President Obama’s health care policies.
“Seniors are angry, they are frustrated about Obamacare,” said Martin.  “Why? Because there are massive cuts coming to Medicare. How are you going to add 30 million people to this health care reform bill and cut a half-a-trillion dollars out of Medicare and not tell me there won’t be rationing of care? Seniors are angry, they’re upset.”
“I would add this – I’ve been saying since last August at all of these townhall meetings, there’s a senior citizen tsunami headed toward Capitol Hill and if some of these politicians don’t look out, they’re going to be looking for a new line of work come November,” said Martin.  “By the way, I think that tsunami came ashore a couple of weeks ago up in Massachusetts.”
Former Republican Congressman David McIntosh of Indiana said the Republican Party has to restore its credibility when it comes to federal spending.
“I want to be real clear and say the Republican Party has a bigger challenge because people, sort of thought, ‘we trusted you to keep spending down and you didn’t do it,’” said McIntosh.  “So the Republicans have to go even further than the conservatives do to re-capture the high ground on that.”
“They have to have a discussion among themselves and say, ‘guys, we can’t say one thing when we run for office and then start spending again if they put us in power,’” said McIntosh. “We’ve got to have a different model for how we’re a majority.’”

Kerpen said that President Obama inherited “huge deficits and a huge national debt” from the last administration that were “exacerbated in the last couple years by Democrats in Congress,” but added that Obama has been digging the country’s financial hole “deeper” and “faster” than before.
“There’s no question” about those deficits and the national debt, “and they were actually exacerbated in the last couple of years by Democrats in Congress,” said Kerpen, “so this wasn’t a purely Republican problem. But it was a Republican problem to the extent that they lost their way. There were things like the bridge to nowhere, all the other earmark scandals.”
“But the first rule of holes is, when you’re in a hole, you stop digging, and this guy came in and we were in a fiscal hole and he decided to dig faster, dig deeper, and we’ve now got an unprecedented national debt, with trillion dollars deficits as far as the eye can see,” said Kerpen. “So, it’s true that we were in a bad fiscal situation when the president came in, but he made it much, much worse when we need to be moving in the other direction.”
The Mount Vernon Statement was drafted by the Conservative Action Project, a coalition led by Edwin Meese and signed by more than 80 conservative leaders, including L. Brent Bozell III, president of the Media Research Center (the parent organization of CNSNews.com); Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner; Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist; Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, American Conservative Union President David Keene; Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright; Coalition for a Conservative Majority Chairman Ken Blackwell; former Reagan Domestic Policy Adviser Ken Cribb; Let Freedom Ring President Colin Hanna, and Al Regnery, publisher of The American Spectator.