New RGF Issue Brief: No Legislation Without Representation!

(Albuquerque) For all of the problems facing our elected officials in Congress particularly and Washington, DC, in general, a new Rio Grande Foundation paper details how the underpinnings of our republic are being undermined by the never-ending growth of the federal bureaucracy.

In the new brief, “No Legislation without Representation,” the authors detail how Congress has abdicated its responsibilities to legislate and has instead given the tacit go-ahead to bureaucracies to enact the equivalent of legislation with minimal discussion or input on the issues from elected officials or the voting public.

As the authors note, the ObamaCare health care law may be the “poster child” for this trend, but the trend goes back to at least the New Deal policies of the Roosevelt Administration.

While some may be sanguine about the trend toward ever-greater adoption of extra-democratic regulations, there are real economic impacts inherent in allowing a nearly unlimited number of bureaucrats “legislate” out of sight rather than demanding that 535 elected officials do so in public on national cable television.

The authors note that, “In 1949 there were 19,335 pages of regulations. In 2011 there were 169,301 small-typed pages, an increase by a factor of eight over a period of 62 years.” The financial impact of these regulations is reflected in a GDP that analyses suggest could be as high as $54 trillion instead of the $16 trillion we have today. As an example, the regulations created to support ObamaCare have had a direct effect on employment. The results of a survey on ObamaCare shows 41% of surveyed businesses froze hiring because of the health care law,

19% said they have reduced employees, and 38% said they have reduced growth plans.

Perhaps worse than the economic impact is the negative impact this change has had upon openness in government. Even the most interested of American citizens, it is impossible to know what is going on with their government.

As James Madison noted in Federalist No. 62, “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be to-morrow.”

Americans are limited in their tools for addressing the problem of nameless, faceless bureaucrats legislating from various agencies, but understanding that there is a problem is a first step to getting a grasp on the problem.