No Regulation Without Representation

AP Photo/Jaime Henry-White
AP Photo/Jaime Henry-White

When our Founders crafted the Constitution, they wisely placed “all legislative powers,” that is law-making authority, in the hands of Congress, the representatives of the states and the people.

It is not a mistake that Congress and its powers were established in Article One, for it was envisioned as the most powerful of the three branches because it alone would decide the laws that would govern the central authority, albeit in accordance with the powers provided in the Constitution.

Today that constitutional system is wrecked. We have become the Regulatory States of America, with our republic operating under a vast regulatory apparatus in Washington that has become the Fourth Branch of Government.

Federal regulators, who are not elected by the people nor are they in any way accountable, hold the power to issue regulations affecting nearly every aspect of our lives. These are regulations, not laws, but they have the force of law and can send a citizen to prison if violated, the same as any law passed by Congress or a state legislature.

In Mark Levin’s new book, Plunder and Deceit, he notes that in the last decade the executive branch of our federal government has issued 36,877 regulations, about 3,500 per year.  Those new regulations cover more than 768,000 pages in the federal registry. That’s nearly 80,000 new pages per year.

How much paper is that?

In January 2014, Senator Mike Lee of Utah released a stunning photograph of his display of the 2013 Federal Registry of regulations, three massive stacks of paper equally 80,000 pages. If stacked upright, it would reach to 11 feet.

By contrast, Congress, our law-making body, has passed just 1,706 laws in that same ten-year period, and it’s under these laws that the regulators freely operate.

One example of regulatory chaos is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed in 2002 under George W. Bush in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom fiascos, which fastened a vast amount of oppressive and costly accounting regulations on private companies, yet, interestingly enough, did not apply those same strict practices on the federal accounting books.

President Obama, however, has taken regulations to new heights. Obamacare is a good example of how the regulatory state operates. The Affordable Care Act is a law of some 2,700 pages and 2.8 million words, yet added 11 million words to the U.S. Regulatory Code.

Overall, under Obama, the government has continually added an average of nearly 18,000 regulations per year.

The President recently unveiled a new Clean Power Plan to get control of the looming threat of global warming, which he has stated is a graver danger than ISIS, Iran, and global terrorism.

This plan, which calls for a reduction of carbon emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, would destroy the vital coal industry, bankrupt the coal-producing states, and, to use Obama’s own words from his pre-Presidential days, “necessarily sky-rocket” the average American’s power bill, all in the hopes of lowering the globe’s temperature by 0.03 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.

It will be implemented, not on the expressed basis of a congressional law, but through the regulatory powers of the EPA. And none of it will have authority from the Constitution.

Such massive regulations, more so than anything else, are choking the life out of business and grinding down our economy.

The Republican Congress should stop the new job-killing, economy-destroying Clean Power Plan, while repealing Obamacare and Sarbanes-Oxley without delay.

Furthermore, it should take control of the regulatory state emanating from the executive branch and institute much-needed reform, which should encompass at least three actions:

(1) Implement an immediate regulatory moratorium, or “cooling off period,” so that Congress can gain control of the out-of-control regulatory state.

(2) All existing regulations already on the books must be reviewed and approved by Congress during the moratorium period.

(3) No future regulations shall go into effect without the approval of Congress.

These reforms of the regulatory code, as well as a similar overhaul of the tax code, will provide major relief to American businesses of all sizes and provide a genuine boost to the economy.

Revolutionary Americans in 1776 used the slogan “No Taxation Without Representation.” To tax a free man without his having consented to it through his representative was seen as tyrannical. We must view federal regulations through the same lens and demand that members of Congress do what they were elected to do – represent the people.