Today’s Guest Saturday post comes to us from Dan Miller of the DanMillerInPanama blog. In this essay, Dan explains how the current administration and a compliant Congress are suffocating the life out of our beloved country. Dan published this essay originally on August 6, 2013.
National Suffocation by Bureauracy
It’s been coming for a long time, but during the Obama Administration itmay have peaked. I doubt that but hope it will soon.
Although President Obama has done much to promote national suffocation by bureaucracy, an article at National Review Online contends, and I agree, that “our” compliant Congress has been a big help. It is far easier for the Congress to leave important decision making up to “non-partisan” administrative wonks. It also gives “our” CongressCritters ample time and energy to do what many seem to consider their real jobs, raising campaign funds and getting reelected again and again. ObamaCare was — and remains — a gift of power to the Internal Revenue Service and multiple other agencies. The Gang of Eight’s “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation, which fortunately has encountered problems in the House, would be a boon to various administrative agencies and departments due to the tremendous discretionary authorityit would grant them. Once granted, discretionary authority is very hard to take away. Instead, granting it becomes a new normal on which future legislation can be modeled. Each time that is done it gets easier and easier to do again.
President Obama is only partially to blame because he did not build that all by himself. “Our” Congress and “legitimate media” helped him do it. As noted at the linked NRO article, President Obama has served largely as a front man with
his utterly predictable approach to domestic politics: appoint a panel of credentialed experts. His faith in the powers of pedigreed professionals is apparently absolute. Consider his hallmark achievement, the Affordable Care Act, the centerpiece of which is the appointment of a committee, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the mission of which is to achieve targeted savings in Medicare without reducing the scope or quality of care. How that is to be achieved was contemplated in detail neither by the lawmakers who wrote the health-care bill nor by the president himself. But they did pay a great deal of attention to the processes touching IPAB: For example, if that committee of experts fails to achieve the demanded savings, then the ball is passed to . . . a new committee of experts, this one under the guidance of the secretary of health and human services. IPAB’s powers are nearly plenipotentiary: Its proposals, like a presidential veto, require a supermajority of Congress to be overridden.
IPAB is the most dramatic example of President Obama’s approach to government by expert decree, but much of the rest of his domestic program, from the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law to his economic agenda, is substantially similar. In total, it amounts to that fundamental transformation of American society that President Obama promised as a candidate: but instead of the new birth of hope and change, it is the transformation of a constitutional republic operating under laws passed by democratically accountable legislators into a servile nation under the management of an unaccountable administrative state. The real import of Barack Obama’s political career will be felt long after he leaves office, in the form of a permanently expanded state that is more assertive of its own interests and more ruthless in punishing its enemies. At times, he has advanced this project abetted by congressional Democrats, as with the health-care law’s investiture of extraordinary powers in the executive bureaucracy, but he also has advanced it without legislative assistance — and, more troubling still, in plain violation of the law. President Obama and his admirers choose to call this “pragmatism,” but what it is is a mild expression of totalitarianism, under which the interests of the country are conflated with those of the president’s administration and his party. Barack Obama is the first president of the democracy that John Adams warned us about. [Emphasis added.]
Democracy never lasts long,” Adams famously said. “It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” For liberal regimes, a very common starting point on the road to serfdom is the over-delegation of legislative powers to the executive.
. . . .
In an important sense, the American people have no political say in the health-care law, for example, because Congress did not pass a law reforming the health-care system; instead, Congress passed a law empowering the Obama administration, through its political appointees and unelected time-servers, to create a new national health-care regime. The general outline of the program is there in the law, but the nuts and bolts of the thing will be created on the fly by President Obama and his many panels of experts. [Emphasis added.]
There are several problems with that model of business, one of which is that President Obama, and more than a few of his beloved experts, have political interests. The partisans of pragmatism present themselves as disinterested servants of the public weal, simply collecting the best information and the best advice from the top experts and putting that into practice. Their only political interest, they would have us believe, is in helping the public understand what a great job is being done for them. [Emphasis added.]
Are “our” unelected experts smarter than the CongressCritters who grant them unaccountable authority? Some probably are, no great accomplishment.
Is the Constitution still relevant?
But NO surrender to the Enemy, the Constitution!
Granting “our” bureaucrats legislative authority counters the purposes of Articles I and II of the ragged and much disparaged old Constitution. Under Article I, Section 2,
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. [Emphasis added.]
Article I is simply written and easy to understand. “All” is a short and powerful word. Legislative powers have, however, long been delegated in ways amounting to congressional abdications of responsibility. While Article I also authorizes both houses of the Congress to make their own rules of internal governance and to perform additional functions, it nowhere departs from the basic principle that to legislate for the nation, within the powers granted herein, is the exclusive function of the Congress.
Article II, Section 1 provides,
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows . . . . [Emphasis added.]
Article II nowhere grants legislative authority to the Executive or to any other branch of Government.
Both provision are in Sections 1 of the respective articles; might that suggest that they are important? It should be a useful exercise for “our” CongressCritters and President to review both articles — not seeking ways around their basic premises but absorbing guidance from them.
How about domestic snooping by “our” Government?
On us? What of it? We all belong to Government.
Therefore, let’s spy on those suspected of domestic crimes and cover up the spying, withno disclosure to their attorneys before or during trial.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges. [Emphasis added.]
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses. [Emphasis added.]
The Constitution? So what? It must be OK, since “we” are only doing it to ourselves. Those suspected of crimes are (unlike ourselves), ipso facto bad – like racist White Hispanic George Zimmerman who mercilessly killed a young boy who would have looked a lot like President Obama’s son if He had one. We are “the Government” and weare doing it to ourselves when we continue to elect those who favor or at least condone doing it and concealing it along with other improper governmental intrusions.
Is there a way out of the messes caused by confusing legislative and executive powers — hence giving the Executive Branch excessive power at the expense of the Congress? Certainly there is: stop sending Libruls to the Congress and elect someone else to the Presidency. If we don’t do that we will continue to get the Government we “belong to” and deserve. Can’t we — won’t we –just say no?
There is, obviously, no basis for any rumor — not even the one I just started — that House Speaker Boehner or any other RINO might be auditioning for the part so beautifully sung by the frisky girl in the video. Still, perhaps just saying “yes” is good because it’s “sexy” and all resultant “problems” can be avoided or erased with the help of ”our” benign Government.
Now let’s toddle off and let “our” dear nanny tuck us into bed. She knows best where we belong and when to take us there.
I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review, in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains.