The Administrative State: Who Needs Congress?

The Administrative State: Who needs Congress? 3/19/15 By Peter Burrows

I recommend everybody watch a terrific five minute “You Tube” of Representative Trey Gowdy, R-SC, on the House floor giving a speech on the purpose of Congress, ending with an impassioned declaration, “We make law!”   (

I really like Gowdy.  It is too bad he is so, so deluded.  Congress may THINK it makes law, but people who have to deal with the IRS, OSHA, the EPA, the NLRB, the USFWS, etc. etc. know that the REAL lawmakers are not the people we elect to “make law,” but a faceless ruling class growing ever more powerful.

The intrusiveness of this ruling class seems to be growing lately, and, as always, is mostly unchecked by the people we elect to represent us.  Let me be quite clear: “ruling class“ means the vast bureaucracies, especially those in Washington, D.C., that pour out new rules and regulations — laws — that nobody voted on.

What brings this to mind are new regulations from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that will essentially turn the Internet into a federally regulated public utility.  This could have very negative effects on innovation and the competitiveness of American business.  It was an effort pushed by Internet giants Google and Netflix, among others, and supported by all those who think the government should micromanage everything.

The FCC consists of five appointed members, not elected by you or me, who have historically been concerned with regulating America’s radio, telephone, television and cable industries.  The present configuration is three Democrats and two Republicans.  The vote to regulate the Internet was three to two. Can you guess who was on which side? (Hint: Obama appointed all five, only three of whom can be of the same party.)

Among the hundreds of other new laws recently “passed” by bureaucrats, perhaps the most damaging are new ozone standards from the EPA.  Plus, just out, a new proposal from the EPA to limit the time spent in hotel showers.  (I DIDN’T MAKE THAT UP!!)  Closer to home, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just “passed” a law quadrupling the area for the Mexican Gray Wolf recovery program and tripled the target number of wolves.

Nobody you or I know voted for any of the above.

The typical recourse citizens have is to challenge these bureaucratic dictates in court, where the laws’ validity will be determined by other unelected people.  Occasionally, Congress will pass a law nullifying the laws passed by the bureaucrats. Somehow, I don’t think that’s how the Founding Fathers envisioned things should work.

I’ve sent Congressman Pearce the following email. He probably has a staffer culling his emails, but I’ll let you know his response.

Congressman Pearce,

Recent rulings by the FCC and EPA have made it quite clear that Congress is becoming irrelevant in an age of the administrative state.

To restore Congressional oversight, I suggest you propose a law that says that NO proposed bureaucratic laws/regulations go into effect unless they are approved, at the very least, by an oversight committee of elected representatives, preferably by a two-thirds majority.

I realize this would greatly increase the Congressional work load, a lament that will receive little sympathy from the public. To lessen the work load, I suggest congress eliminate some of the bureaucracies in Washington, starting with those that have NO constitutional authority, e.g. HUD.

This email has been published in The Grant County Beat on 3/19/15 as part of an article I wrote, which can be found in “Columns – Libertarian Leanings.” I plan to do likewise with your response.
Sincerely, Peter Burrows, Silver City

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