On the GOP website, there is a section on Party resolutions. Over the last few years in checking this section from time to time, there hasn’t been much there worthy of note, while in public there has been plenty of rhetoric representing a heightened urgency in the area of social governance suggesting that the GOP has drifted away from its former core principle of limited government.

Whatever the case, it appears that there has been at least one big win for the limited government faction in the GOP with the Resolution on using the federal rulemaking mechanism as a means of creating centralized control.

The Resolution could have had a better title because it suggests the opposite of the actual content. I clicked on it wondering what kind of horrific centralized social control mechanism I would find considering the abundance of rhetorical suggestion that the erosion of the family unit is at the heart of our economic problems only to be pleasantly surprised to find that the Resolution aims to overhaul the rulemaking process in the Federal bureaucracy. I’ve included some highlights below:

  • WHEREAS, inherent in the separation of powers, and specifically applicable to this situation, Congress has a duty to provide oversight to the activities of the executive branch, including the rules issued by federal agencies;
  • WHEREAS, unfortunately, federal agencies have gone far beyond their duty to “implement” laws, as the number of regulations governing nearly every facet of American life continues to increase unabated;
  • WHEREAS, in 2014 alone, the Federal Register contained 78,978 pages of agency actions, of which there were 3,541 final rules and regulations, and 659 of those impact small businesses;… another 2,375 regulations were proposed and are currently awaiting approval;
  • WHEREAS, the increasing importance of unelected federal agencies in structuring the legal environment in which American citizens and businesses operate, and the relative lack of oversight by Congress, represents an erosion of “representative” democracy;
  • WHEREAS, ever-increasing federal regulatory control can be devastating to a national economy, as reflected by the current economic conditions in the Eurozone; therefore be it
  • RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee urges Republican lawmakers to implementation of a seldom used law – the Congressional Review Act – to void those rules and regulations that exceed the authority of federal agencies to implement laws passed by Congress;
  • RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee urges the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate to review all of the major rules and regulations issued during the past eight years;
  • RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee urges individual Republican Congressmen and Senators to propose legislation to overhaul the federal regulatory regime to prevent unelected bureaucrats from setting federal policy.

It deserves as much praise as I can give it as but one step in the right direction. But there are some problems with the scope of it that leaves me guessing about whether it is actually doable, or if it is not much more than pandering to those of us who are serious about the desire for limited government.

Aside from my personal beliefs regarding the interpretation of the Commerce Clause, thinking that much of regulatory power exercised by the bureaucracy impinges on state police power, if I were to accept the common practice of overreach as a given, there is still a big legal hurdle to implementing this resolution because Congresses in the past have delegated difficult political questions to the bureaucrats in order to escape political accountability. In a hypothetical power grab, one similar to the Telecommunications Act for example, Congress passes generalized legislation granting itself authority to regulate a broad topic without specific meat-on-the-bones, and then delegates that authority to a regulatory department within the Executive Branch in the form of rulemaking power with congressional oversight in name only. From that point on, any subsequent battles over content are between the Executive Branch and congressional committee members who have no real legal leg to stand on because the law delegates the authority over content away (one reason the Executive Branch is far more powerful than intended – it does, in effect, legislate.)

While this Resolution recognizes there is a problem with the exercise of the rulemaking power delegated to the Executive Branch in aggregate that results in an overbearing bureaucracy, there is very little that can be done about it on the part of Congress as long as the adopted rules comply with the law. In other words, there is almost nothing congressional Republicans can do about the “rulemaking of the past eight years” without amending each piece of overarching legislation to provide a committee veto of the rules (and getting Obama to sign it). In the absence of such amendments, or perhaps passage of one piece of legislation that provides a congressional veto on all rulemaking in some form, the most likely of two recourses would be to litigate each and every illegality in court which would leave those rules that are legal whether their content is intended or not. The other approach would be to support a challenge to the applicability of the Commerce Clause in intrastate commerce activities in general. In the instance of an affirmative ruling in that approach, most of the regulatory BS that does nothing but support graft and enables crony capitalism at the Federal level would go. I would wholeheartedly support and prefer the latter approach though unlikely to happen (I can dream about it, can’t I? Can’t abuse power that one doesn’t have).

With all that said, I think I have an additional quibble with the focus on “the rulemaking of the last eight years” as it appears to assume that only in the last eight years has the rulemaking power has been abused and nothing in the Federal regulatory apparatus owns any responsibility for the subprime mortgage fiasco of the last decade. Just how stupid do they think I am in the assumption that I would have the propensity to overlook such a serious regulatory bungle? The subprime mess was much worse in impact than the bungling of ObamaCare; and the bungling of oversight of the Federal Reserve’s conduct of monetary policy in its aftermath set the things that make life desirable way out of reach for scores of millions of people.

Republicans may not want to publicly take their share of responsibility for those things, which I can sympathize with on some level. Though, it would help me to get past my fear of them economically if there were more indication that the right lessons have been learned – that one cannot govern like Herbert Hoover and the Republican Congress of the late 1920’s expect a different result. As I said before, this resolution is worth supporting as a step in the right direction. But there is still a much longer road to travel ahead of them in order to convince me that the Republican Party is no longer something that should strike terror in the area of economic policy.

PS: I love the layout of my Word Press theme. The blockquote formatting, however, has been annoying, but livable until today. I have tried using blockquote style tags in an attempt override the CSS in the theme pertaining to blockquotes and have been successful in overriding only the font size but not any of the other formatting. I even used the ‘try ‘n buy’ that lets a site administrator override the CSS in their themes with their own code and preview it before buying the customization feature which had no effect on the blockquote style sheet in my theme.  So, that won’t help at all. Does anyone have any pointers on what to do?

Test blockquote

The above is the blockquote formatting produced despite the following code in the custom CSS preview:

.custom .format_text blockquote {
color:#666;
background:#eee;
margin:0 0 1.6em 0.8em;
padding:1.4em 1em 0.1em 1em;
border-left:5px solid #7F1315;
}

By the way, I think I found a hole here in how I managed to display my sample code and may have discovered an answer to my own question. Though, if you have any tips, please share. 🙂

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