Trump vs the Administrative State – Round One

Trump vs the Administrative State – Round One

The government inevitably wants to govern every citizen on the basis of its own collective or individual biases – which are always the instincts that promote collectivism, not constitutional values.

 

 

President-elect Donald J. Trump is advancing on Washington without backing off one iota from his campaign promises and policy prescriptions – much to the horror of those who were so confident that he would fold up like a cheap suit and play ball with Washington’s UniParty once the election glow faded.

Of course, these are mostly the same folks who said he couldn’t win the nomination to begin with. When found wrong, they doubled down and said he couldn’t win the general election.

Now they’re wrong again.

If anything, the President-elect seems more focused and certain of himself and what he wants to accomplish than ever. His Cabinet choices make that pretty clear.

But waiting for him in Washington like a giant wood chipper is the bloated federal bureaucracy – the guardians of the massive administrative state – who have ground up every President since Reagan, and command legions of compliant politicians.

Part of draining the swamp will be a major commitment to wrest control of the government from unelected bureaucrats who have political protection from the gang on Capitol Hill.

The unelected administrative state – so vast that literally no one even knows where all the nooks and crannies are – has grown faster than Justin Bieber’s tattoo collection. Its explosive growth over the last thirty years has been prodded on by the reckless expansion of four presidents, encouraged by a corrupt political class, and sheltered by a facile and unreliable judiciary.

Their unchecked power is primarily focused in the ability to create and define regulations supporting or detailing the scope of legislation or programs – a power that Congress willingly abrogates to escape hard decisions and political culpability.

Sometimes in league with the Obama Administration and special interest groups, but more often simply “doing what they do,” the administrative state has pumped out a breathtaking 22,000 new federal regulations from 2009 through 2015, with 229 considered “major” rule making; 2016 will add over 80,000 pages in 4,000 new regulations – or burdens more likely.

The cost to the economy of these additional new regulations in the last eight years is $100 billion dollars, according to the Heritage Foundation’s James L. Gattuso and Diane Katz in a May, 2016 study “Red Tape Rising.”

The total cost of all federal regulations to the economy is now calculated to be a staggering $2 trillion dollars a year.

Commensurate with its growth and power, Americans have discovered in recent years that the administrative behemoth becomes more autocratic with its increased girth (think UN or EU here). This massive size and lack of oversight encourages a sense of privilege and invites secrecy, so increasingly the administrative state operates and rules by edict (backed up by dozens of militarized, heavily armed SWAT teams in virtually every non-law enforcement federal agency) with very limited recourse accorded to citizens in the civil judicial system, or through their cowering elected representatives.

And, it takes a lot of unsupervised money to feed this beast, so a great deal of the federal budget is squandered without penalty or accountability. As study after study since the famous Grace Commission report in the 1980’s has demonstrated, you can’t throw a rock in Washington without hitting the front door of an agency or department of the federal establishment that isn’t riddled with waste, fraud, and simple greed. In truth, no one even knows how much of the federal budget is really wasted or pilfered, but you can safely bet it’s enough to run a small nation. So it is not surprising that the administrative state works hard to protect itself from oversight using deception and complexity.

The sweeping regulations of the last eight years alone – if left unchecked – will do untold damage to the economy through self-inflicted inefficiencies and job losses, stupid labor guidelines, massive energy boondoggles, the phantom of so-called climate change, going right down to where and how private American citizens can live or buy houses.

These new, destructive regulatory initiatives in the Obama era are in addition to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. This is the gold standard for deception, written and passed with enormous, open ended rule making authority for the administrative state, which has been busy helping to destroy the American healthcare system.

The Dodd-Frank financial “reform” act – another unread 2,000 pages of legislation – also conferred major regulatory authority to the administrative state.

Dodd-Frank, among its many sins, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – the brainchild of then radical Professor and part-time Native American, and now radical Senator, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The CFPB was deliberately placed in the quasi-public Federal Reserve System, where it is virtually a free agent, outside the constitutional system, with negligible Congressional oversight and operating outside the federal budget process. It is the envy of the administrative state, with enormous and unchecked power that is methodically coiling around virtually every financial relationship and interaction that Americans have, or will have.

Besides the weak accountability of rule making beyond the reach of a public veto, there is another danger with the permanent administrative state: The government inevitably wants to govern every citizen on the basis of its own collective or individual biases – which are always the instincts that promote collectivism, not constitutional values.           

Americans had a peek at how this danger works out in practical terms (one of many examples that have come to light) in 2014 when the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued an investigative report describing how the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was in cahoots with the Justice Department in a secret program named Operation Choke Point, to “force” 4,500 FDIC member banks to cut off financial relationships with “payday lenders” and at least 20 other industries – including firearm dealers and manufactures – that the FDIC and Justice deemed “hi-risk” or “morally objectionable.”

The reason they kept the program hidden from the American public was that the two agencies were deliberately colluding to financially ruin legal businesses and industries (in addition to smearing and libeling the targets with false accusations and associations), along with the tens of thousands of jobs supported by those businesses.  Shockingly, the fact that these were legal businesses was never discussed in any internal memos, and didn’t even prick the conscience of those involved.

(Finally in January, 2015, the FDIC issued a letter to member banks that admitted its guilt, using a directive that encouraged a return to traditional “risk-based” assessments.)

All of this played a part, of course, in why Donald J. Trump shellacked Hillary Clinton.

Average, hardworking Americans have suffered through more than a generation of an arrogant, power-crazy governing class, who want to micro-manage liberty out of existence. They don’t like it much.

The “forgotten” man has finally had a belly full, and there could be no better time for Mr. Trump to pick a fight with the administrative state – while he has a fair wind at his back.

President-elect Trump and his team have already put together a huge list of regulations to go after. Some can be killed in the crib, internally de-funded or powered down, yet others officially eliminated, and still others legislatively dealt with. But it is an urgent task all across the government.

It won’t be easy – nothing dies without a fight in Washington.

The Congress can and should play apart – for once. They alone have the power of the purse, and the power to legislatively define the scope of how a program operates.

If Congress can ever manage to get back to an actual appropriations process instead of funding the government by Omnibus catch-all budgets, Congress can defund or defang regulations that can, or are, causing great harm to the public, through the budget process. That is their job.

Finally, the Executive branch can push to sunset all regulations and set up filters that test whether existing or proposed regulations benefit the public, or are simply the passions of an administrative state, compelled by their desire to regulate America down to its individual toilet and faucet selections.

Oh, wait, they’ve already done that. There is another one for the list.

 

Note: [Parts of this article first appeared in 2014. However the impending arrival of President-elect Trump to “drain the swamp” makes the subject timely once more. It is the first opportunity in a generation for reforming the massive, out-of-control Administrative State. MG]

13 comments

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  • Sailblazer

    Probably the most important article in a long time. As the beast grows, the likelihood of controlling it becomes smaller. Pester your congressman day and night.

  • Jonathan Erickson

    Nice work Mr. Giere!

  • BIGron

    Another well thought out and timely article! The next year will be exciting for those of us that have waited for this “drain the Swamp” moment since the 1980s. It will also be entertaining watching the weeping and gnashing of teeth of all them delicate snowflakes right before their heads explode. There will be plenty! What a great time to be an American!

  • Jim Bond

    This article hits it out of the park! I have witnessed firsthand the pernicious effect of burrowed-in employees from prior administrations working their leftover agendas. The thing that may be a game changer is Trump’s apparent love of continuous hard work and willingness to call out and confront those standing in his way.

  • RubyTwoThree

    It is scary how vast the administrative state is. And they all pass the buck, it drives me nuts. You can ask one question and get five different answers w/in any one agency. Just shut them all down and start from scratch.

    • ameri…canwork

      I agree shut these places down but not before exposing the people that run these bureaucracies so that the succubus in our society are never in position to do it again.

      Now the other side of the coin as always there are two sides. When our elected officials choose not to enforce these rules and regulations within these laws ,you are not enforcing the law.

      Be very careful on the knee jerk reaction we will shoot ourselves in the foot.
      Self-serving legislators and representatives are in abundance found within both parties.

      • RubyTwoThree

        Have you ever seen the Ad Council commercials we pay for? Teaching kids how to use a microwave. The sheer volume of websites the govt’ pays for that no one uses for information, and what information on it is stupid? The grants that go to pay for SJW activities has been going on for years. Time to stop all of it.

        • ameri…canwork

          I wholeheartedly agree with you and these commercials on the Ad Council.
          When and Administrations go and “politically remove” regulations from the law the law still exist now you are by proxy not making the law valid or are you just deregulating the opportunity to enforce the law.
          Once again I must say be very wary not to paint all this with one broad stroke of the brush a fine example in Virginia was Governor Bob McDonnell now professor of policy at Regent University.
          while Governor, Bob McDonald and Commissioner Cheng (Department of Commerce) removed a requirement from contractor law statutes 54.1 – 1100 the requirement stated ; ” you are required to ensure that all subcontractors and trade related individuals hold the appropriate licence issued by the DPOR, The Commonwealth of Virginia.
          Today today this law has not changed nor has the prohibited acts section of this law.
          One of these prohibited acts still intact is conspiring in the delivery of Contracting Services with an unlicensed contractor (using illegal aliens as unlicensed contractors).
          Have you read this , a fine piece of investigative journalism !!!
          http://watchdog.org/202012/subcontractors-shadow-economy

  • just a wild & crazy RINO

    Story time.
    My father was a combat engineer in the army. After he retired, he worked for DOD. His job for most of this time was to get money from Congress for projects. It was said that he was very good at that. He told me how he did it..
    Say he has project Z to do and he figured it would cost one billion. He would ask Congress for 1.2 billion. Then say he finished the project under budget for 0.8 billion.. He would spend the extra 400 million on projects that he would select. Then the congressman who had voted to give him the money would receive a letter telling them that Project Z was finished under budget and listing the projects in their home district that the left over money would be spent on. For the congressman who voted against my father, no letter and no money..
    This was years ago. However it would seem likely that he was not the only bureaucrat to do this and it would seem likely the practice still continues.
    How to fix something like this ??
    Will allow wiser people to figure that out.

  • old_redneck

    What hold does Putin have on Trump?

    Washington Post suspects Trump has secret business dealings, communications with Russia http://hill.cm/yxAtg7c

    ____The Post’s editorial board questioned Trump’s praise of Putin
    after the Russian leader decided not to take countermeasures against the
    U.S.

    “The president-elect’s dismissive response only deepens unanswered
    questions about his ties to Russia in the past and his plans for
    cooperation with Vladi­mir Putin,” the newspaper wrote.

    “For his part, Mr. Putin seems to be eagerly anticipating the Trump
    presidency. On Friday, he promised to withhold retaliatory sanctions,
    clearly hoping the new Trump administration will nullify Mr. Obama’s
    acts,” the Post added.

    The editorial questioned Trump’s proposed policy of friendly
    relations with Russia, observing that Trump “seems blissfully
    untroubled” by Kremlin’s aggressive geopolitical stratagems.

    “Mr. Trump has been frank about his desire to improve relations with
    Russia, but he seems blissfully untroubled by the reasons for the
    deterioration in relations, including Russia’s instigation of an armed
    uprising in Ukraine, its seizure of Crimea, its efforts to divide Europe
    and the crushing of democracy and human rights at home,” the Post
    wrote.

    “Why is Mr. Trump so dismissive of Russia’s dangerous behavior? Some
    say it is his lack of experience in foreign policy, or an oft-stated
    admiration for strongmen, or naivete about Russian intentions. But
    darker suspicions persist.”

    The editorial concluded by connecting the president-elect’s “odd
    behavior” toward Russia with his lack of transparency when it comes to
    his business empire.

    “Are there loans or deals with Russian businesses or the state that
    were concealed during the campaign? Are there hidden communications with
    Mr. Putin or his representatives?” The newspaper speculated.

    “We would be thrilled to see all the doubts dispelled, but Mr.
    Trump’s odd behavior in the face of a clear threat from Russia, matched
    by Mr. Putin’s evident enthusiasm for the president-elect, cannot be
    easily explained.”

  • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll
  • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll
  • Lawrence Wood

    Michael thoroughly and completely understands the issues and some of the solutions that have been effective in the past via personal experience rather then academic postulating, that is at least until the post Reagan years reintroduced compassionate conservatism and regulation mania yet once again back into our daily lives, rebooting economic stagnation and government growth for the sake of state based capitalism.

    It will be interesting to see if the Trump administration understands but you have to be somewhat encouraged by the transition team’s frequent statements that out of control regulation will be their first target out of the box post inauguration. Some of these Obama executive order regulations can be attacked with the new president’s pen BUT many will be a prolonged legal fight in the courts against an entrenched Obama stacked progressive federal bureaucracy that Congress has allowed to run wildly unchecked for decades.

    You can’t win the over regulation battle without taking on Federal Civil Service reform and defanging the power of the non governmental and non voter representative federal worker unions like the AFGE and it’s powerful service sector sister the SEIU. That is the heart of the beast and the Democratic parties long term funding relationship with these union entities which have come to serve as a reliable cash cow and funding source for proliferating the regulation culture.