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Not Triangulation but Regulation

December 17, 2010
Quin Hillyer

Obama Rules by Regulation, Bypasses Congress

President Obama already laid down the marker, in early October. His approach to new Republican strength on Capitol Hill, he said, will be nothing but “hand-to-hand combat.” The combat, however, may not take the form of traditional legislative battles. Again and again, news stories in the fall cited Obama officials saying blandly that they will “use executive authority when blocked by Congress.” None of the reports seemed to find these statements remarkable. Yet if officials in the Reagan or Bush administrations had spoken that way, Newsweek would have been warning of “an imperial presidency” and the New York Times would be hyperventilating about a proto-dictatorship. Yet Republican teams’ inclinations run to less regulation rather than more, and the Obama regime favors executive actions far more likely to limit freedom and seriously intrude on daily American life.

Indeed, the Obama team’s disdain for small-r republican norms is breathtaking. Even when enjoying huge Democratic congressional majorities, this president already had pushed rule-by-administrative-fiat to a stunning degree. What awaits, when Obama sees no chance of legislative success, is sure to be an audacious expansion of claimed executive powers — unaccountable, unlimited, and quite arguably unconstitutional. (Whether the courts recognize it as unconstitutional will be a close call, based on how effective Republican senators are at blocking Obama from seeding federal courts with radical leftists.)

It’s not only conservatives who recognize this administration’s aggressiveness. OMB Watch, a respected but decidedly left-leaning nonprofit that tracks regulatory affairs full time, quite approvingly reported this in September: “In stark contrast to the George W. Bush administration, the Obama administration… has been far more active in pursuing its rulemaking responsibilities.” And: “[Environmental Protection Agency] Administrator Lisa Jackson…has set an active agenda.… At the Department of Labor, [there have been] efforts to jumpstart a rulemaking engine….” The NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] engaged in “a minor surge of rulemaking.” And so on.

No wonder an October 26 report by the Heritage Foundation succinctly concluded that “the burden of regulation on Americans increased at an alarming rate in fiscal year 2010. Based on data from the Government Accountability Office, an unprecedented 43 major new regulations were imposed by Washington. And based on reports from government regulators themselves, the total cost of these rules topped $26.5 billion, far more than any other year for which records are available.”

And now… the rest of the story. …..

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