Bureaucracy and Red Tape

“Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.”  Laurence J. Peter

Who creates federal laws?  Civics books say it is Congress, but the real answer today may be the executive branch. Unfortunately, missing from this process is accountability to citizens. In response, some members of Congress have turned to supporting the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny” (REINS) Act, S.68, reintroduced in January of this year by Senator Rand Paul and 24 cosponsors.  The bill will require approval of any major regulation adopted by an Executive Agency within a 70 day period before it could take effect.  It would, as Paul and the other sponsors claim, put power back into the hands of the people instead of unelected bureaucrats where it now stands.

The bill is necessary even though the Constitution specifically assigns all legislative power to Congress because Congress has increasingly abdicated its lawmaking responsibility by delegating power through vague laws and mandates to unelected bureaucrats in executive agencies which then impose and enforce the actual regulations that legally bind Americans.

The result has been ever-growing power for federal bureaucrats, enacted through reams of rules, imposing massively large costs on Americans. But bureaucrats need not clearly spell out their policies and their consequences to the public; much less submit them for voter approval. And whenever a scandal reveals some regulatory abuse or failure, politicians hide from their responsibility by blaming the bureaucrats they delegated the power to and then failed to effectively oversee.

There is another very practical reason for reining in our current Pandora’s Box of congressional delegation. The fact that legislators must leave policy details vague — to be filled in later by others — illustrates how members of Congress don’t know enough about the problems they’re supposedly addressing.

To adequately address a societal problem requires detailed knowledge of the problem and the specifics of how it will be “fixed.” But legislators who had really mastered such details would trumpet them at every opportunity to ensure they got credit. So, when they delegate policy details to agency bureaucrats, they reveal they do not know the specifics of a workable solution.

Despite the ineffectiveness of legislatively delegating vaguely outlined responsibilities to executive agencies, it is prevalent because it gives the appearance of a legislative solution without requiring legislators to actually have a solution. Given voters’ shaky knowledge of social problems, policies, and possibilities, such play-acting can work for politicians almost as well as (if not better than) actual solutions. It also provides politicians ready-made scapegoats whenever the political heat gets turned up, allowing them to absolve themselves from true accountability.

Americans constantly hear public servants’ verbal commitments to accountability. But it is a slogan more than a reality. Reinstating a requirement that Congress approve all laws, which, if we are honest, major regulatory rules amount to, would restore some meaning to that rhetoric. It would force elected officials to answer for agency excesses and failures, rather than letting them blame bureaucrats for their own lack of real solutions.

The rise of the administrative state cannot continue to go unchecked. When agency rule makers bypass Congressional review, the agenda of unelected bureaucrats dominates over the interests of American businesses and workers.

We must not only cut through the red tape, but also ensure those in the Executive Branch are held to the highest level of transparency and accountability, regardless of which party is in power.

“If you are going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy. God will forgive you but the bureaucracy won’t.”   Hyman Rickover

Source:  The Bureaucracy Is Now More Powerful Than Congress by Gary Galles, Intellectual Takeout; Dr. Rand Paul Reintroduces the REINS Act for 2021; Support the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, S. 68, by Adam Branson, Freedom Works

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