Bush Wants Executive to Be More Executive


I'm as suspect of the Bush administration as anyone, but I have a hard time getting too worked up over the fact that Bush wants more executive control over the executive agencies that make up the federal regulatory state. Under the Constitution, they do, after all, report to him. Given that federal regulations carry the force of law, and that violations of the Federal Register can increasingly trigger criminal charges, I'd rather an elected, accountable politician be holding the buck at the end of the line than a sea of faceless, unelected, nearly unfireable bureaucrats.

If Henry Waxman is really is terribly concerned about all of this, the answer isn't to make executive agencies less answerable to the executive. It's to make them more accountable to the Congress. Congress needs to stop delegating so much lawmaking power to regulatory agencies. In fact, I don't think it would be such a bad idea to force Congress to vote on every measly federal regulation it expects the rest of us to abide by.

Doing so would serve several purposes: One, it would open their eyes to just how massive, contradictory, and Byzantine federal regulatory law really is, and perhaps inspire them to do something to reign it in. Two, as a matter of principle, people shouldn't be going to jail for violating laws Congress never expressly voted on. And three, by the time Congress had worked its way through the Federal Register, they'd have a hell of a lot less time to pass other laws.