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Does Congress Guard the Constitutional Power of Legislation?

The Founders envisioned a strong legislative branch that would need to be balanced by the other two branches of government. Professor Lillian BeVier explains that this particular prediction has not been borne out in modern times. Instead, Congress has willingly deputized administrative agencies to bear the burden of setting policy and drafting regulations. This arrangement is far less risky for representatives who don’t want to be held personally accountable to their constituents. https://youtube.com/watch?v=e5enm3kTfW0


One of the interesting things about how the Framers set things up and in the separation of powers is what they assume, what the Founders assumed, is that each branch of government would be aggressive in making sure that its own powers were not encroached upon. That was really the principle idea about the separation of powers, they were going to guard their own power and make sure that the other branches didn't take any of their power away. And that key assumption seems to have been proved not correct in the current environment. In particular congress which was supposed to be the most aggressive branch and the branch most to be feared has in fact ceded most of it's legislative power by its delegations of broad policy making and by the way, unaccountable power to administrative agencies by these broadly worded, vague statutes such as those that give administrative agencies the power to regulate in the public interest without defining what that might mean. The primary incentive that they seem to have is to get reelected. And that about describes the way they go about their business. I think that is one reason why they tend to be satisfied to pass these broadly worded statutes that grant away many powers to administrative agencies, because the risk of writing, of actually making and voting for policy choices that would be embedded in a statute and for which a member of congress can be held accountable to his constituents is that his constituents, or her constituents won't like the choice he made. So if you delegate all your power then you're not going be politically accountable and it will be easier for you to get reelected. The administrative agencies have every incentive to grow. I mean, one of the things that administrative agencies seem to want to do is increase their budget every year. That's just part of what it means to be a successful agency. If you think that that's one of the incentives of administrators, then you're going to say that the incentives that confront legislators are very much at odds with the possibility of having a smaller, more responsive government.

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