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Democracy Denied - A Book Review

How Obama is ruling as a king, not governing a republic.

By Petrarch  |  October 31, 2011

The other month, Barack Obama took to the stage for one of his patented Not-the-State-of-the-Union Addresses, only to sound like a broken record.  Referring to his American Jobs Act, he demanded that Congress "Pass this bill!" no less than 17 times.

He could have said it 117 times and it would have made no difference: he had not yet even written the bill he wanted Congress to pass, much less actually submitted it for their consideration.  When he finally did get round to coughing it up some weeks later, the situation did not improve: it couldn't make it past the Democrat-controlled Senate, much less the Republican House.

Not to worry!  It turns out that the fancy building with the big dome up on Capitol Hill is there just for show.  For all the pontificating about how important it was that Congress "pass this bill," Obama has decided that passing laws is entirely superfluous to his goals.  Quoth the New York Times:

With his jobs plan stymied in Congress by Republican opposition, President Obama on Monday will begin a series of executive-branch actions to confront housing, education and other economic problems over the coming months, heralded by a new mantra: “We can’t wait” for lawmakers to act...

By resorting to executive actions, using his wide-ranging authority to oversee federal laws and agencies, Mr. Obama seems intent on showing that he is not powerless in the face of Republican opposition but is trying to strengthen the economy and help Americans in trouble.

Aides said Mr. Obama would announce at least one initiative each week through the rest of the year, including steps to help returning veterans and small businesses.

You may call us old, but we vaguely remember a feisty little animated would-be law who had to wait until both houses of Congress passed him and the President signed him.  Was there a Constitutional amendment ditching the legislative branch while we weren't looking?

Who Moved My Constitution?

Author Phil Kerpen's book Democracy Denied could not possibly be more timely, as it answers this question: No, there wasn't any amendment, it's just that nobody particularly cares about the Constitution's separation of powers anymore.

For 300 pages, Kerpen rolls out example after example of Congress and the American people flatly rejecting a new government initiative - only for executive-branch regulators and the Obama administration to go right on ahead putting the failed law into effect by other means.  From global warming to the Fairness Doctrine, unelected bureaucrats are grabbing power that Congress never granted.

Perhaps the most bald-faced power grab he discusses is with union card-check regulations.  Union organizers have long wished to remove the right of workers to secret ballots during unionization drives so that union thugs can more effectively pressure those who'd rather not deal with the pain and expense of a union.  However, secret ballots are the law and have been for decades.

In the early years of the Obama administration, labor-funded Democrats pushed the Orwellian-named "Employee Free Choice Act" to strip secret-balloting rights.  However, this naked injustice was so far out that even George McGovern couldn't stomach it; the law was never passed.

That didn't stop the union bosses.  Without the benefit of this new law, and despite seventy years of existing labor law, the new leftist-dominated federal National Labor Relations Board is attempting to simply make the change by administrative fiat.  As SEIU and AFL-CIO organizer Stewart Acuff said, cited in Kerpen's book:

If we aren't able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, we will work with President Obama and Vice President Biden and their appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to change the rules governing forming a union through administrative action.

And so they have, one bit at a time, from attempting to overthrow repeat elections at Delta airlines which the union lost, to changing the longstanding rules preventing individual local work units at FedEx from unionizing by themselves and confounding the entire system.

Incidents, Patterns, and Solutions

For Democratic administrations to concentrate on growing government power is nothing new.  Historically, however, they've gone about this the right and proper way: from the New Deal and Great Society, passed by Congress, to Clinton's Hillarycare which wasn't passed and which Clinton laid to rest.

Executive orders and bureaucratic regulations have also been around for a long time.  Until very recently, though, they were confined to areas where Congress had granted them authority.

Under Mr. Obama, not only do his minions venture into areas not authorized by Congress, but they're increasingly flying in the face of what Congress, the law, and the Supreme Court say they may do.  This is not the rule of law; it is lawless tyranny under false color of the law, and Kerpen paints a crystal-clear picture of an organized, intentional pattern.

But Kerpen goes one step further: he details a clear, Constitutional way to resolve the problem once and for all, known as the REINS Act.  Quite simply, this proposed law states:

All rules, regulations, or mandates that require citizens, state or local governments financial expenditures must first be approved by the U.S. Congress before they can become effective.

To our Founders, this would be nothing more than common sense: only Congress, the elected representatives of the people, can rightfully burden the people with rules that cost them money.

To our overgrown bureaucracy and feckless politicians, though, the REINS act is the crack of doom.  No longer could bureaucrats simply write into regulations whatever laws they wished; rather, they can write all they like, but enforce none without the express permission of Congress.

Unfortunately, the REINS act would also force Congress to explicitly decide on the merits of each and every regulation.  No longer could a Congressman point to a nameless, faceless bureaucrat as the evil power behind an intrusive or misbegotten rule.  No, each Congressman would have to defend his votes for each and every regulation, yea or nay.

For Congressmen, this is awful, because they could be held to account by the voters.  For the voters, it's nothing less than a desperately needed check on a monster government run amuck.

Many of the stories and examples given by Mr. Kerpen will be familiar to readers of Scragged, though perhaps not all the details, and probably not their vast extent, which he conveniently details on a handy online chart.  Every patriotic American needs to know about them, though, and even more importantly, to carefully consider Mr. Kerpen's proposed solutions.

For sure, the ones already tried haven't worked, and anticapitalist regulators are destroying America's economy, jobs, culture, and future even as we speak.