I’m not a fan of The Donald, as everyone here knows, but I’m giving the man a shot. Truth be told, I’m just so eminently thankful that we don’t have to suffer 8 years of that shrill wench that I can’t bring myself to write anything overtly negative about the Orange Imperfect’s plans…yet. I will challenge him and hold him to account at every turn, but for the moment as regards my writing, I’m sticking to one of the few glimmers of hope I’ve seen in nigh on 15 years.
The House passed HR-427 (The REINS Act) in 2015, by a vote of 243 to 165. The Senate companion bill S.226 was introduced by Sen Rand Paul(R-KY). The bill “would require any executive branch rule or regulation with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more — designated by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as a ‘major rule’ — to come before Congress for an up-or-down vote before being enacted.”
If Donald Trump pushes Congress to pass this legislation, he would decimate 105 years of ever-increasing regulatory overreach cementing his place in the pantheon of reductionist heroes (without even being a conservative), just down & to the left of Ronald Reagan.
Could Donald Trump be the small government Republican we’ve been praying for?
Who creates federal laws? Civics books say it is Congress, but the real answer today may be the executive branch. Earlier this year, James Gattuso and Diane Katz reported that just the 229 major regulations issued since 2009 added over $100 billion in annual costs (according to the regulatory agencies), $22 billion coming in 2015. With estimates of the total regulatory costs now exceeding income tax burdens at over $2 trillion annually, regulations were far more burdensome for many Americans than legislation.
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, which would require Congress to approve major regulations before they could take effect.
Why is this necessary when the US Constitution specifically assigns all legislative powers to Congress? Because Congress has increasingly abdicated its lawmaking responsibility, delegating its power through vague laws and mandates to executive agencies, which then impose and enforce the actual regulations that legally bind Americans.
The REINS Act, by allowing major regulations to take effect only if passed by Congress, would end the effective delegation of legislative power to regulatory bureaucrats and restore some of the Constitution’s eroded separation of powers. It would offer some real political accountability, by moving us back toward Americans’ earlier understanding of legislative powers, gutted in U.S. v. Grimand (1911) and subsequent court rulings.
Before Grimand, Congress had already begun giving administrative agencies power to formulate specific rules to implement Congress’ general policy objectives. But in Grimand, the Supreme Court gave such administrative rulings the full force of law, with delegation mushrooming since.
If they make this happen, the next step is to begin undoing the destructive regulations implemented over the past decades. If that occurs, we may yet see the small government revolution I…we have longed for. It probably won’t happen like that, but a boy can dream.