Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A few thoughts on the start of the 114th Congress


As the 114th Congress gets underway today, the first thing that should happen is for the House and Senate leadership teams to get together, establish their legislative agenda and timeline for 2015, and then setup a sit down with the President to discuss it.

The agenda should include: increased state block grants, the budgetary downsizing of the federal agencies whose monies were provided as block grants, a bi-annual budget that actually shrinks the funding levels, legislation authorizing the Keystone pipeline, and legislation restraining the EPA, DOE, FCC and any other agency whose regulatory actions have encumbered business formation.

Congress should make a special point of evaluating and modifying Dodd-Frank, repealing and replacing Obamacare, and the existence of the CFPA as each of these Acts and in the later case, agency, do significantly more harm the Nation’s economy than they deliver in benefit.

I'm for collaboratively legislation if it's the right type, i.e. legislation that reduces/rationalizes the regulatory state, returns the budgeting process to a series of appropriations bills and avoids the omnibus approach that's caused immense harm, that provides block grants and facilitates federalism rather than circumventing it, and that secures our borders first and then addresses immigration in a way that supports addresses skills shortages, both short and long-term, not one based on increasing the supply of skills we have in abundance in order to control wages--the Chamber of Commerce approach.

The issue is the majority of Americans, particularly those Tea party and constitutional conservatives within the Republican Party and the unaffiliated voter ranks believe on balance government is a necessary evil, not a solution to whatever issue some politician or interest group thinks is important.  I don't think either Boehner or McConnell understand this, and I'm certain Obama doesn't.

One of the most pernicious developments of government, the one most undermining the Constitution, has been the proliferation and growth of executive agencies, such as the EPA, SEC, CMS (to manage Medicare and Medicaid), NLRB, CFPB, and you name it. With those in place Congress is able to pass the buck and write massive laws thousands of pages long that nobody reads or understands that are then converted to regulations by the executive agencies. Just look at the parallel opinion piece "Not Even Reformers Can Follow Campaign-Finance Law."

The effect is that the real laws, the ones more directly affecting us, are then decided and written by unelected bureaucrats. Not only does it lead to mischief--like insurance subsidies for Obamacare only being available in state exchanges then being changed by bureaucrats to cover everyone after the law was passed--it also lets the President decide and "legislate" into law pretty much what he wants, like trying to close coal fired power plants, or not enforcing immigration laws, regardless of the intent or desires of Congress or the people more broadly.

We need to not only reduce spending but also bring those agencies under control. Don't count on Democrats, however. All they want is more money to keep feeding that monster.

The more I think about this the scarier it gets. Legislators nowadays are able to reform a whole one-sixth of the economy (healthcare) while sitting around chewing the fat and conning the people. All they need to do is say "wouldn't it be nice to have this or that," write it into the law without regard for the thorny details and consequences, and let unelected bureaucrats in executive agencies figure out how to make it happen.

It strikes me as the height of irresponsibility, and they probably don't have a clue what they are doing and seemingly don't care. All they do us have their little food fights.

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