Deconstructing the Administrative State
They weren’t alone, on the book of faces various “liberal” people also expressed shock and asked questions like “what will they replace it with?”. They also, perhaps due to the poor MSM coverage, seemed a bit unclear what it was that was to be deconstructed, something that the powerline blog commented on.
As a libertarian / minarchist type, the confusion about what it meant seemed pretty silly. The fact that people misunderstood it just showed how deeply the adminisrative state has embedded itsef into the federal government. This is actually why all sorts of tea party kinds of conservative are coming to hold more positive attitudes to the Trump presidency. Needless to say the commentators who do understand it, are furious. Take EJ Dionne (and throw him into the nearest pond):
When Bannon listed the administration’s central purposes, the first two were unsurprising: “national security and sovereignty” and “economic nationalism.” But then came the third: the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Bannon explained that officials who seem to hate what their agencies do — one thinks especially of Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has sued it repeatedly to the benefit of oil and gas companies — were “selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.”
Thus did Bannon invoke the trendy lefty term “deconstruct” as a synonym for “destroy.”
This is a huge deal. It reflects a long-standing critique on the right not just of the Obama and Clinton years but of the entire thrust of U.S. government since the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Critics of the administrative state — “the vast administrative apparatus that does so much to dictate the way we live now,” as Scott Johnson, a conservative lawyer and co-founder of the Power Line blog, put it in 2014 — see it as unconstitutional because regulatory agencies make and enforce rules based on authority they claim was illegitimately ceded by Congress.
That’s the theory. In practice, this is a war on a century’s worth of work to keep our air and water clean; our food, drugs and workplaces safe; the rights of employees protected; and the marketplace fair and unrigged. It’s one thing to make regulations more efficient and no more intrusive than necessary. It’s another to say that all the structures of democratic government designed to protect our citizens from the abuses of concentrated private power should be swept away.
The statists refuse to admit that it is possible to have too many regulations. Thus they fear that if any regulation is repealed it means that all regulations will be repealed. They ignore the fact that the regulations are frequently over-reaching. Consider for example the “unlicensed haircuts for the homeless” I blogged about recently, or the ridiculous requirement that only vets massage horses case that NRO mentioned. Now it’s true that both these examples are state bureaucracies gone mad, but consider the various worries about how the EPA was seeking to regulate puddles, furrows and ditches or, for that matter, the huge administrative burden of the PPACA or Dodd Frank and the agency it created, the CFPB. Another example would be how the NFL may be violating the ADA by performing physical and mental health testing on potential new players.
Except for a few diehard anarchists, no one thinks that laws against pollution, fraud or poisoning are bad, nor do we feel that it is inappropriate the someone set levels and standards. What many of us think is that the number and complexity of the regulations is excessive and that they are costing individuals and businesses far more to implement and comply with than they can possibly benefit wider society.
This is not, of course, solely a US problem. Consider for example this article on how European regulators are going after Uber, AirBnB and the rest of the “gig” economy. One of the big drivers of Brexit was the excessive regulation emanating from Brussels and one of my hopes was that Brexit would lead to a significant reduction in regulations in the UK. Sadly I fear this may not happen to the extent I hoped for, but I’m pretty sure that the UK will no longer be bothered about the curviness of bananas or the difference between jams, marmalades and conserves. However while the UK is just beginning to look at the process, in the US the process appears to be starting. In President Trump’s speech to congress just now, he said near the start:
We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a 5 year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials — and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.
We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job‑crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency; imposing a new rule which mandates that for every 1 new regulation, 2 old regulations must be eliminated; and stopping a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.
I’m sure this scares the heck out of the statists, but it sounds like freedom to me
The Shadow of the Olive Tree