We blogged about whether police are too militarized. But, as Mark Hemingway shows, in what his wife Mollie calls the new administrative state, our federal bureaucracies–including those that have nothing to do with law enforcement–are also militarized. He shows that the Department of Health & Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, and even the Peace Corps and the Railroad Retirement Board–among many others– have their own armed criminal investigators and in many cases their own SWAT teams. And they use them. [Read more…]
Mollie Hemingway at the Federalist just rips to shreds the Obamacare contraceptive mandate. In the course of doing so, she points to an overarching problem: The establishment of the administrative state, in which Constitutional government is replaced by administrative agencies, which have the power to make laws, enforce them, and judge and punish those who do not comply. That is to say, we now have bureaucracies that have legislative, executive, and judicial power. [Read more…]
Now we must staff the bureaucracy required to run Obamacare. This may at least put a dent in unemployment, but at untold costs, not just to the federal government but to states and insurance companies. For example, the law requires the hiring of thousands of “navigators,” whose purpose is to help people pick out an insurance company. [Read more…]
Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein says that “How government is run, more than what exactly it does, seems set to be the main battleground of American politics in coming years.” He then cites articles from the New America Foundation that say the government’s approach is to build a kludge (“a clumsy, inelegant, difficult to extend, hard to maintain yet effective and quick solution to a problem”) and to function like “a giant coupon machine.” Explains Klein: “Think clunky Obamacare versus streamlined single-payer health care, or government’s tendency to deliver benefits via the tax code, through deductions, credits and exclusions, rather than by direct payments.”
Do you see where this is going? But is there a valid point here? [Read more…]
Another practice in which Congress evades its constitutional responsibilities: Passing laws that consist largely of vague frameworks and enabling bureaucrats from the executive branch to fill in the blanks with the substance of the law. George Will on a bill that would put regulations back under Congressional scrutiny:
John Marini of the University of Nevada, Reno, writes in the Claremont Review of Books that the 2,500-page Obamacare legislation exemplifies current lawmaking, which serves principally to expand the administrative state’s unfettered discretion. Congress merely established the legal requirements necessary to create a vast executive-branch administrative apparatus to formulate rules governing health care’s 18 percent of the economy.
The Hudson Institute’s Chris DeMuth, in an essay for National Affairs quarterly, notes that Congress often contents itself with enacting “velleities” such as the wish in the 900-page Dodd-Frank financial reform act that “all consumers have access to markets for consumer financial products and services . . . [that are] fair, transparent, and competitive.” How many legislators voting for the bill even read this language? And how many who did understood that they were authorizing federal rulemakers to micromanage overdraft fees? In Dodd-Frank, Obamacare and much else, the essential lawmaking is done off Capitol Hill by unaccountable bureaucratic rulemaking.
More from that brilliant column by Peggy Noonan, America’s Crisis of Character:
There is the General Services Administration scandal. An agency devoted to efficiency is outed as an agency of mindless bread-and-circuses indulgence. They had a four-day regional conference in Las Vegas, with clowns and mind readers.
The reason the story is news, and actually upsetting, is not that a government agency wasted money. That is not news. The reason it’s news is that the people involved thought what they were doing was funny, and appropriate. In the past, bureaucratic misuse of taxpayer money was quiet. You needed investigators to find it, trace it, expose it. Now it’s a big public joke. They held an awards show. They sang songs about the perks of a government job: “Brand new computer and underground parking and a corner office. . . . Love to the taxpayer. . . . I’ll never be under OIG investigation.” At the show, the singer was made Commissioner for a Day. “The hotel would like to talk to you about paying for the party that was held in the commissioner’s suite last night” the emcee said. It got a big laugh.
On the “red carpet” leading into the event, GSA chief Jeffrey Neely said: “I am wearing an Armani.” One worker said, “I have a talent for drinking Margarita. . . . It all began with the introduction of performance measures.” That got a big laugh too.
All the workers looked affluent, satisfied. Only a generation ago, earnest, tidy government bureaucrats were spoofed as drudges and drones. Not anymore. Now they’re way cool. Immature, selfish and vain, but way cool.
Their leaders didn’t even pretend to have a sense of mission and responsibility. They reminded me of the story a year ago of the dizzy captain of a U.S. Navy ship who made off-color videos and played them for his crew. He wasn’t interested in the burdens of leadership—the need to be the adult, the uncool one, the one who maintains standards. No one at GSA seemed interested in playing the part of the grown-up, either.
Why? Why did they think this is OK? They seemed mildly decadent. Or proudly decadent. In contrast to you, low, toiling taxpayer that you are, poor drudges and drones.
HT: Doug Reynolds