Posted 4 months ago on Jan. 11, 2013, 8:06 p.m. EST by Choonie
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Getting Things Done Through Regulation
By Craig Metcalf Thursday, January 10, 2013
Americans constantly complain that their government in Washington is gridlocked and "can't get anything done." Those same Americans have nothing to worry about. America's 2.65+ million civilian government workers are laboring intensely every day "getting things done." It's just that things "get done" in a different way from what most people would expect and that the things that get done are often not what we may like.
As we know, Congress passes laws. The President then signs them into law. Then what happens? Let's say Congress decides that it is time to clean up the environment, clean up the financial system, or reorganize our national health care system. They pass a law and the President signs it. If there is a requirement that the government accomplish some objective, like clean up the environment or the financial system, there must be a mechanism to make that happen. Congress does not have the staff, expertise, or money to take action, neither does the President. As a result, government administrative agencies are created and funded to implement the objectives of the legislation. These agencies are mostly housed within the federal executive branch under the ultimate control of the President.
We are all familiar with these agencies and we may encounter them on an all too regular basis. Some of these agencies include the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and many others. It is estimated that there are about 1300 individual federal government agencies, all working daily to "get things done." The Obamacare law alone creates dozens of new agencies. A brief sampling of these include such agencies as the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, Office of Women's Health and Gender Based Research , Office of Minority Health, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, just to name a few.
Occasionally, the government ends up with so many agencies all "getting things done" that there are conflicts between those agencies. Alternatively, there are times when there is actually some facet of life that is unregulated because of some unintentional gap in agency authority. In these situations Congress may pass laws which create some sort of "super agency" to coordinate all of the agencies and/or fill the gaps.
One example of a government "super agency" is the "Financial Stability Oversight Council" created in the Dodd-Frank Act. Someone noticed/decided that there were gaps in financial regulation, even though we have numerous financial regulatory agencies. As a result, the Council was created to coordinate efforts and fill gaps. It is chaired by the Secretary of Treasury and voting members include heads of Treasury, Federal Reserve, OCC, SEC, CFTC, FDIC, FHFA, NCUA, and Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, as well as several others, and a whole list of non-voting members. By this complex mechanism the financial systems are to receive complete oversight.
Government theoreticians, such as Obama administration Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein believe that we all have to be "nudged" to do the right thing. And they know just the right person to do the nudging: federal bureaucrats. Others worry that we are losing our Constitutional rights and liberties to this ever exploding cadre of agencies. Many worry that our society and economy are being choked by 1300+ agencies and 2.65+ million government bureaucrats.
In 1986 Ezra Taft Benson, who served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower administration and then as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church) said:
In recent years, we have allowed Congress to fund numerous federal agencies. While these agencies may provide some needed services and protection of rights, they also encroach significantly on our constitutional rights. The number of agencies seems to grow continually to regulate and control the lives of millions of citizens.
What many fail to realize is that most of these federal agencies are unconstitutional. Why are they unconstitutional? They are unconstitutional because they concentrate the functions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches under one head. They have, in other words, power to make rulings, enforce rulings, and adjudicate penalties when rulings are violated. They are unconstitutional because they represent an assumption of power not delegated to the executive branch by the people. They are also unconstitutional because the people have no power to recall administrative agency personnel by their vote.
In the current environment, Benson's ideas may seem outdated. However, if the country is to return to its Constitutional roots, those ideas are worth considering.
In the foreseeable future with a divided and deadlocked Congress, watch for the Federal Government to push forward on the regulatory front. The Government is certainly capable of "getting things done" during this period. The only question is are the things the government will do desirable or even within the bounds of the Constitution.