I got back from my monthly D.C. trip last night. The highlight certainly was speaking on matters of National Security in the 21st century at the Daniel Morgan Academy, a new graduate-level school focused on a Masters program of study in national security policy. It was good to see many of my former colleagues on Capitol Hill. I visited with Senators Lankford of Oklahoma and Cassidy of Lousiana, both of whom I served with in the House of Representatives. On the House side I had the chance to visit specifically with Representatives Blackburn, Franks (great discussion on Electro Magnetic Pulse), and my mentor Rep. John Kline of Minnesota – a former U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. But it was during a quite interesting meeting with Reps. Jordan of Ohio and Loudermilk of Georgia where I learned of a new initiative.
It’s called the Article I Project (A1P), started on February 3rd, and headed up by Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, with several other Senators and Representatives supporting. The Executive Summary of the A1P states, “The authors of the Constitution intended Congress to be first among the federal government’s three coequal branches. Endowed with the power to legislate, tax, spend, and oversee the weaker Executive and Judicial branches while simultaneously held to tighter public accountability — Congress was meant to be the driving force in federal policy-making.
And so, today we are launching the Article I Project (A1P), a new network of House and Senate Conservatives working together on a new agenda of congressional empowerment and accountability to restore Congress’ proper Constitutional role. A1P will develop and advocate specific, structural reforms — both large and small — in four key areas at the heart of Washington dysfunction; reclaiming Congress’ power of the purse, reforming legislative “cliffs,” restoring Congressional power over federal regulations and regulators, and reining in Executive discretion.”
I truly support this initiative but I just have to ask, what took so long? We know there’s been an incredible constitutional crisis ongoing in America for some time. Now, of course it hasn’t just been the Obama administration — although they’ve put Executive overreach on steroids — but it is simple, the Legislative branch was meant to be the strongest branch.
Anyone reading the Constitution can see the most enumerated powers are granted to the Legislative branch. I remember when President Obama gave his State of the Union address and belligerently stated that he has a pen and will take action himself…and folks, members of the Legislative branch stood and cheered. The correct reaction should have been a silent House chamber. We have a Constitutional Republic, not a constitutional monarchy — and Benjamin Franklin challenged us on September 17, 1787 to keep it.
The real issue with the A1P is that our education system doesn’t teach the three branches of government and the system of federalism. We all recall “schoolhouse rock” and the cute little cartoon lessons that taught us civics on Saturday mornings. Today you have a generation of “college students” who believe Judge Judy is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.
I sincerely applaud this A1P initiative but how does the everyday American learn about it, and how will it impact our lives? Here’s one simple recommendation I presented to Reps. Loudermilk and Jordan to stem the advance of the bureaucratic administrative state. When executive branch agencies create regulations and rules that have an economic impact, the amount should be ascertained by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and that amount should be debited from the executive agency budget, immediately upon the effective date of the regulation. There has to be a consequence for this out-of-control, hidden taxation without regulation, which is exactly what this has become.
We must endeavor to educate the American people that the implementation of regulations without representation gives the executive branch the opportunity to generate revenue for its existence, and that is unconstitutional. The power to do this lies, according to the Constitution in Article I, with the Congress. The REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act was something we debated while I was in Congress, it has passed the House but now sits in the Senate. The purpose of the REINS Act, H.R. 427, is to “help give Congress more oversight on spending, will make the executive branch more accountable to the legislative branch, and could save a great deal of money.” Specifically, it would force the federal government, the Executive branch, to come to the Legislative branch for approval of regulations with a level of financial impact on citizens.
The Legislative branch must get us back in balance, and restore the concept of separation of powers, checks and balances. At this moment we don’t have a federal government that governs by rule of law. We have an abhorrent system of being ruled by executive fiat and bureaucratic edicts and mandates. That’s not the essence of a Republic; it is however representative of a fundamental transformation.
I would implore all of you — well, those of you who care about keeping a Republic — to read up on the A1P and call your Senator and Representative about it. I also ask you to call your Senator and tell them to bring the REINS Act to vote. It would be great to know which Senators don’t support eliminating the ability of the Executive branch to institute hidden taxation by way of regulation without representation.
And lastly, there was a song by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young you might remember called “Teach the Children Well.” When we don’t teach them what it means to have a Republic and how to keep it…well, they cheer on a 74-year-old socialist to be our president. Then again, perhaps we have some adults who need the exact same lesson?