Buckle up, job-creators: The administrative state is set to grow steadily larger in 2013 with a slew of new regulations.
“For months, federal agencies and the White House have sidetracked dozens of major regulations that cover everything from power plant pollution to workplace safety to a crackdown on Wall Street,” the Associated Press noted recently. “But since the election, the Obama administration has quietly reopened the regulations pipeline.”
The problem, of course, is not simply the number and cost of new regulations. The larger concern is about the way these regulations are actually being made and enforced. The process is often unconstitutional and empowers bureaucrats instead of American citizens.
“Over the past 100 years, our government has been transformed from a limited, constitutional, federal republic to a centralized administrative state that for the most part exists outside the structure of the Constitution and wields nearly unlimited power,” warns Joseph Postell in a new First Principles Special Report.
Even worse, much of government exists as an unelected, unaccountable “fourth branch.” Government by administration violates the Constitution. It combines executive, legislative, and judicial powers in one place: the same people make the rules, enforce the rules, and adjudicate the rules.
That is what James Madison called the “very definition” of tyranny.
Postell’s report explains the dangers of our growing administrative state and, more importantly, details what can be done to restore constitutional government.
This is a job for all three legitimate branches. Congress can assert its power to make laws, the President can restore the chief executive’s authority to oversee the executive branches of government, and the courts can take more responsibility for reviewing the decisions made by administrative agencies and federal bureaucracies.
But the key branch, Postell writes, is the legislative. “It is Congress that delegates legislative power to the bureaucracy, creating the engine on which the administrative state runs,” he writes. To begin pushing back, lawmakers should assert their power of the purse as well as their sole authority to make law. “Requiring Congress to approve laws passed by agencies and departments in the form of rules would help to restore accountability and constitutionality to a large portion of the administrative state,” Postell concludes.
Change won’t happen overnight. But the first step is to return to the principles of the Constitution. Americans have become too accustomed to being ruled by regulators. Elected officials should be the only people allowed to pass laws. If they won’t voluntarily take back their authority, voters must insist that Congress, the President, and the judiciary all play their proper roles.