The audacious power creep of the Executive Branch

Sen Doug Whitsett

A dramatic increase in czars and Executive Orders, and now the creation of localized “green” task forces to further supplant local elected governments, continue the lopsided expansion of Executive Branch power at the expense of local governments and the Congress.

by Sen. Doug Whitsett

The expansion of the power of the Executive Branch of our federal government, during the last decade, is both unprecedented and troubling. All of the Presidents that served our nation between 1945 and 2001 appointed a total of only about forty four czars, on average, less than one appointee per year. Nearly half of those appointments were confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The last two Presidents have appointed a total of about ninety two czars during the past thirteen years. On average, that is about eight appointments each year. Fully two thirds of those appointments were made without confirmation by the Senate. The rapid increase in the number of appointments, as well as the move away from the requirement for Senate confirmation, represents a significant shift away from the checks and balances established in the U.S. Constitution.

Moreover, the last two Presidents have issued a total of 455 Executive Orders. Presidential Executive Orders have the full force of federal law, until and unless, they are countermanded by a subsequent Executive Order, or by an act of Congress. These Orders do not provide the public with the protection of the checks and balances afforded by Congressional hearings, public participation and open debate in the House and Senate.

Many of these Orders established steering committees, working groups, task forces, commissions and various councils that are intended to advise a variety of government agencies. Of particular concern is the appointment of regional councils of government.

Regional councils, commissions and planning districts are generally appointed from members of county, city and special districts. They typically serve an area extending across several counties. They address issues such as city and regional planning, economic and community development, transportation planning and pollution control.

These appointed bodies are authorized to give direction, and to provide federal grant funding for inter-agency agreements, private public partnerships and a variety of non-government organizations. They are generally funded by federal agencies, and are designed to supplant, and to eventually replace the function of local elected government entities.

On November 1st Barrack Obama issued his 164th Executive Order. The Order appears to be the mother of all efforts by the Executive to take over the control of the people. The document alleges to prepare the nation for the impacts of climate change by enhancing our state of climate preparedness and resiliency.

The Order instructs the Directors of thirty federal agencies to participate in a “council on climate preparedness and resiliency”. It requires that the council shall work across agencies and offices and in partnership with state, local and tribal governments, academic and research institutions, non-government organizations and the private sector.

The Order also establishes a State, Local and Tribal Task Force on climate Preparedness and Resiliency. The Task Force is to be co-chaired by White House appointees. These White House appointed co-chairs are instructed to invite “selected” state, local and tribal officials to participate. This White House selected Task force is directed to make recommendations to the White House appointed Council regarding the establishment of funding for programs to combat alleged man-caused global warming.

The entire process functionally bypasses Congressional constitutional authority. The appointed Council and Task Force are directed to make policy that is independent of Congressional authority. It directs grant funding to selected favorite programs and projects without specific Congressional authorization.

Further, the strategy attempts to direct the investment of public moneys from all levels of government away from business entities that produce, transport or use fossil fuels. The agencies are directed to promulgate rules that make investment in those business entities “risky” for long term investment strategies. Then the agencies are directed to identify, assess and avoid making those “risky” investments with public money.

On the other hand, the strategy attempts to direct the investment of public money toward business, non-profit and government entities that produce, transport and use wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy. In this manner, the investment of public funds is channeled toward the less “risky” long term investment in renewable energy resources.

The President appears to become more audacious with each Executive Order that he issues. His boldness is exacerbated by the inaction of Congress in opposing virtually anything he proposes in his Executive Orders. The certain outcome is near total abdication of Congressional authority to the Executive by default.

What could possibly go wrong?

Senator Doug Whitsett is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 28 – Klamath Falls