By Inez Feltscher Stepman • The Federalist
Most Americans are still under the illusion that when they elect a president, he takes control over the executive branch and proceeds to implement his agenda by working with Congress. Sadly, “School House Rock” is out of date.
An enormous amount of policymaking these days goes through the administrative state – the alphabet soup of agencies that have been proliferating like weeds since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. The outsourcing of legislative and adjudicatory powers to agencies is bad enough, and cannot square with the separation of powers between legislation, judiciary, and executive that is delineated in the Constitution. To make matters worse, these agencies and the employees who staff them are also politically unaccountable to the elected representatives of the people, violating not just the wise guardrails of our Constitution, but also the very idea of self-government.
Today, it is nearly impossible to fire the 2.8 million federal bureaucrats who staff the executive agencies, from which they issue regulations and policy guidance that directly affect the lives of Americans every day. Continue reading
By Ned Ryun • The Federalist
If there is to be real change in our form of government, the Trump administration needs to avoid the fatal flaw of previous Republican administrations: choosing to play the game by the Left’s rules.
Nearly every Republican administration makes some changes, but mostly lightly exfoliates the elephant of the State. These are temporary gains at best, small pauses in the seemingly inevitable march of government dominance. Most Republicans don’t seem to understand what we are up against, that the game is rigged against smaller government.
We have to view our government through system dynamics, the study of understanding nonlinear behavior in complex systems. Such systems, like vast government bureaucracy, include loops that reinforce certain actions and results. These loops act similarly to compounding interest, starting slowly, over time accelerating, then finally exploding in size, all the while strengthening themselves. Continue reading
By Iain Murray • National Review Online
Anyone who studies the power bureaucrats have over ordinary Americans’ lives swiftly comes to the realization that the courts, which are meant to redress grievances, will be of little help. That’s because of a doctrine the Supreme Court adopted in the 1984 case Chevron USA Inc v. NRDC. The doctrine, known as Chevron Deference to those in the know, states that courts should usually defer to executive agencies when it comes to the interpretation of ambiguous statutes, of which there are many. A further doctrine, known as Auer after the case Auer v. Robbins, holds that courts should defer to agencies in how they interpret their own regulations.
The rationale behind these decisions is well explained by Harvard’s Adrian Vermeule in a law review article published today on the subject of deference and due process. He points to the argument that “on grounds of both expertise and accountability, agencies are better positioned than courts to interpret governing statutes.” He also points to a growing body of case law incorporating Chevron principles and to the “Court’s recent emphatic pronouncement that Chevron may actually grant agencies the power to determine the scope of their own jurisdiction.” Continue reading
Audit finds increasing problems with customer service and tax fraud
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
The IRS has answered only 15.6 percent of customer service calls during the 2016 tax-filing season so far, according to testimony from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
As of Feb. 27, 2016, there were 40.5 million attempted calls on toll-free assistance lines to contact the IRS. Agents answered only 6.3 million calls, or 15.6 percent of the total. After the call was routed to the call center, customers waited on the phone for 9.6 minutes before they were able to speak with an agent.
“For the IRS toll-free lines, there have been long customer wait times, resulting in abandoned calls, and customers redialing,” states the inspector general. “Despite other available options most taxpayers continue to use the telephone as the primary method to contact the IRS.” Continue reading
by Senator Mike Lee • Washington Examiner
This Thursday, after months of hard work, a bipartisan group of senators and I introduced the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015.
Most people, including many conservatives, might think criminal justice reform is a progressive cause, not a conservative one.
But, like many pearls of conventional wisdom, this is simply untrue.
Just look at the history of criminal justice in the 20th century. The most successful reformers — whether they be academics or evangelists, policymakers or community leaders — have advocated for conservative goals: law and order built on tight-knit communities, a vibrant civil society, strong, intact families and personal responsibility. Continue reading
by Carly Fiorina • USAToday
Last week, we learned that that 1 in 15 Americans was personally affected by the federal Office of Personnel Management’s egregious failure to protect our most personal information. It is now clear that their security breach compromised the personal information of every U.S. citizen who has undergone a government background check in the last 15 years. That is nearly 22 million people — more than the population of the state of New York and nearly 7% of the entire U.S. population.
Social Security numbers, health information, fingerprint records and information about family or foreign contacts were compromised. This breach violated not only our right to privacy – but also the very safety and security of our nation. Continue reading
by Sabrina L. Schaeffer • Forbes
It finally arrived – the letter from my health insurance company announcing that my family will be moved to a new plan beginning January 1, that “meets all of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act” . . . for a mere $500 more a month.
I knew this was coming. Golden Rule has been sending me “warning” letters for months now. But really I’ve known this was coming for much longer – ever since Congress created the government-run, one-size-fits-all system known as ObamaCare. And I’ve watched as millions of others – like those on MyCancellation.com – have gone through the same ordeal of losing plans they liked and could afford. Continue reading
by Michael Barone • Washington Examiner
Earlier this week, I was thinking of writing a column about the lying and duplicity of Obamacare backers who argued that the difference between provisions providing subsidies in states with state-run health exchanges and providing no subsidies in states with federal exchanges resulted from inadvertence or a typographical error.
Typical among them was MIT health care expert Jonathan Gruber. The folks at the Competitive Enterprise Institute found video of him in 2012 arguing that all or most states would create their own exchanges because they wouldn’t get subsidies if they let the federal government run their exchanges. That was just a “speako” (the oral equivalent of a typo), Gruber replied. Continue reading
I recently had a conversation with an intensely conservative businessman whose first foray into politics was fighting for a tax hike on his business and others like it. The little town where he lived as a young man had no paved roads, waterworks, or sewage facilities, and the men who had the most invested in the town knew that it needed these to grow, which of course it did. That’s part of what Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren are referring to with their “you didn’t build that” rhetoric, though they draw the wrong conclusions. They are also sometimes wrong in the specifics, too: The gentleman I was speaking with organized a few other businessmen to install streetlights at their own expense, with the understanding that the town fathers would pay them back when they could afford it. If you’re looking for an example of how small government is good government, a handshake deal to put in streetlights is a pretty good one. That is government at a scale that people can control, manage — and keep an eye on. Continue reading
Whistleblowers from regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration testified before the House Veteran Affairs Committee on Monday night that the agency has been tampering with documents, manipulating records, and retaliating against employees who report problems.
Kristen Ruell, a whistleblower from a VBA regional office in Philadelphia, Pa., told the committee she received an email from an employee in triage, the location where mail is processed, telling her that clerks were setting aside incoming forms when they were not easily identifiable. Continue reading
In unprecedented criticism of the White House, 38 journalism groups have assailed the president’s team for censoring media coverage, limiting access to top officials and overall “politically-driven suppression of the news.”
In a letter to President Obama, the 38, led by the Society of Professional Journalists, said efforts by government officials to stifle or block coverage has grown for years and reached a high-point under his administration despite Obama’s 2008 campaign promise to provide transparency. Continue reading
Bureaucrats push pencils at the expense of real workers
Life is hard. It’s harder still when an entire class of people with their hands out stands between you and success.
Unfortunately, that’s increasingly the problem, all around the world. A recent New York Times piece tells the story of a Greek woman’s efforts to survive that country’s financial collapse. After losing her job, she tried to start a pastry business, only to find the regulatory environment impossible. Among other things, they wanted her to pay the business’s first two years of taxes up front, before it had taken in a cent. When the business failed, her lesson was this: “I, like thousands of others trying to start businesses, learned that I would be at the mercy of public employees who interpreted the laws so they could profit themselves.” Continue reading
Long queues are the price of free care.
President Obama evidently was caught by surprise by the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
So, apparently, was VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who evidently took at face value the corrupt VA statistics — and who, after a distinguished military career, resigned last week.
One who was probably not taken by surprise is longtime Yale Law Professor Peter Schuck, who identified the problems at the VA before the scandal broke in his recently published book, “Why Government Fails So Often and How It Can Do Better.” Continue reading
For the left, the Department of Veterans Affairs is how health care is ideally supposed to work. No insurance companies, no private doctors, no competition — just the government and the patient.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has held up the VA as a model for the entire country. The Washington Monthly ran a famous article in 2005 arguing that the VA was leading the way for U.S. health care. The socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, is such a reflexive defender that in an instantly notorious interview on CNN he pooh-poohed the burgeoning scandal that may involve fatalities with the undeniable observation that “people die every day.”
The VA is an island of socialism in American health care. It generally provides adequate care — to a limited universe of people and for only certain conditions — but has long been plagued by scandal. It is perhaps the worst bureaucracy in the federal government. As with all such single-payer-type systems, the cost of the notionally free health care is in the rationing, in this case the wait times that have had desperately ill vets hung out to dry for months. Continue reading