February 15, 2016

THE PROBLEM IS, THE LEVIATHAN STATE OFFERS SUCH OUTSTANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRAFT: Turning back the leviathan of the administrative state.

There are two stacks of papers in Utah Senator Mike Lee’s office that should cause all Americans to pause. One stack is 400 pages; the other is over 80,000 pages. The short stack is all of the laws Congress passed in 2014. The 11-foot tall tower is all federal regulations.

Senator Lee and other members of Congress see this disparity as indicative of not just a growing government, but an erosion of the separation of powers. They are correct. When James Madison authored Federalist 47, he gave voice to a sentiment shared widely by the Founders: consolidating executive, legislative, and judicial power into one entity is “the very definition of tyranny.”

To preserve self-government, the Constitution separated those powers into three branches. As new laws may restrict liberty, separated power ensures that one faction of society cannot run roughshod over another. Debate, compromise and consensus should ensure that any new regulations are enacted with wide public agreement.

Today, the 80,000-plus pages of federal regulations reveal the extent to which Congress has surrendered its lawmaking power to the administrative state. With one-sentence delegations to agencies, telling them to regulate “in the public interest,” Congress has given bureaucrats a free hand to craft rules regulating much of the economy and daily life.

This should be an election issue. But lots of the GOP is fine with the administrative leviathan.

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