In our constitutional republic, the Congress of the United States is the legitimate legislative branch of government, charged with making the laws. A decision to adopt any national global warming program is an enormous one, with hundreds of billions of dollars and personal liberties at stake. This is simply not something that ought to be done through the back door via an unelected, unaccountable agency.

As with all executive power grabs, the EPA ultimately can only do what Congress allows. Voters must constantly remind their elected representatives that they expect them not only to oppose bad laws but to step in and stop the executive branch when it oversteps its bounds.

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In America, as our founders intended, the states are where the rubber meets the road.

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Driving the implementation of the EPA’s massive power grabs and circumvention of the legislative branch was a key White House official who avoided Senate confirmation by being installed as White House Energy Czar: Carol Browner.

The potential Senate confirmation fight Obama sidestepped by creating a czar position for Browner would have likely centered on her membership on the board of the Socialist International Commission for a Sustainable World Society.24 Browner was listed as one of 14 members of the commission on its website as recently as January S , 2009-the day she was named Obama’s White House energy czar.25 This commission pursues an openly socialist agenda of centralized control under a regime of global governance that would enforce extreme environmental political correctness globally. The commission’s views on global warming are, to say the least, extreme. Commission statements from the time Browner served include:

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Two weeks after the 2010 election and Obama’s “skin the cat” comment, a leading D.C.-based, left-wing advocacy group, the Center for American Progress,  published a 53-page report called The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change, detailing a sweeping far-left agenda that flies directly in the face of what voters made clear they wanted. 16 The report was coauthored by the president of the Center for American Progress, John Podesta, who was the chairman of Obama’s transition team, and who has direct influence over the president and his key advisers.

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Using a phrase attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “…In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”  I would submit that in modern times, nothing is certain except death, taxes, and bureaucratic overreach.

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Just to show you how unfazed  the Obama administration was by the political defeat of cap-and-trade, consider what’s on page 146 of Obama’s 2012 budget: ‘The administration continues to support greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the United States in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 .”10 Those just happen to be the same levels required by the failed Waxman­ Markey cap-and-trade bill . Obama is telling the EPA to just pretend the bill passed and regulate away. In fact, Obama’.s EPA was already moving full-steam ahead to implement a global warming regulatory scheme that could be even more costly than cap-and-trade-without the approval of the American people and without so much as a vote in Congress. On December 7, 2009-right in the middle of the media firestorm over the Climategate scan­dal, which leaked e-mails from leading global warming alarmists that called some of the basic science into question-the EPA issued a so­ called “endangerment finding” for greenhouse gases, paving the way for onerous greenhouse gas regulations to be shoehorned into the 1970 Clean Air Act, despite the fact that Congress had considered­ and decisively rejected-adding such regulations in 1990, when the Clean Air Act was amended .11 It is such an ill-fitting vehicle to ad­ dress greenhouse gases that in order for this strategy to succeed, the EPA must, illegally, rewrite the law to suit its purposes.

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Last week, the United States Supreme Court once again opted not to rule a key provision of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The case at issue, King v. Burwell, was technically not a challenge to the Affordable Care Act itself but rather the IRS’s implementation of the Act.

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Much has been made in recent years about the abuse of presidential power. There is no shortage of recent examples to show that this is a legitimate concern. However, this is not entirely the fault of the current administration. Instead, the fault lies with the American people and the other branches of government that have failed to exercise constitutional checks and balances.

Interpretations of the Affordable Care Act have been regularly put forward that result in far more flexibility regarding implementation dates than the actual plain language of the law would allow. It has been shown that the Affordable Care Act was intentionally written so that only individuals buying health insurance through state-created exchanges would receive federal subsidies. Yet, the administration is ignoring the law, flowing subsidies through the federal exchange.

A more recent example of executive overreach is the new rule expanding authority of the Environmental Protection Agency over the waters of the United States to include almost any land where water puddles for significant time. The argument put forth by the EPA is that 117 million Americans are not protected by the Clean Water Act under current interpretations. But then, the Clean Water Act was never intended to encompass all waters in the country. It was aimed at cleaning up the big rivers and the Great Lakes, the navigable waters of the nation, to make it possible for fish to live in Lake Erie and to prevent chemicals in rivers from catching fire.

Today, some have an entirely new vision for what the EPA. They want it to save the world from man-caused global warming, which is still unproven. They want it to exercise power so as to prevent any chance of harm coming to anyone from any activity by mankind, especially petroleum production. Other than a few isolated situations and scary speculative stories, the new rule put forth by the EPA expanding its power is a solution in search of a problem. Major water pollution disasters are not happening in this country, and every state already regulates water purity and threats to it.

It would be easy to lay all the blame for executive overreach in the United States at the feet of the current administration, but this would be naïve. The blame equally belongs to the legislative and judicial branches. More fundamentally, the blame lies collectively with the people of the United States.

Since the Progressive Era, a presumption has prevailed in the collective mind of Americans that political and social salvation lies in the strong leader, or cadre of leaders, whose wisdom and breadth of knowledge, along with a supporting cast of experts, would best improve the lives of everyone. This attitude cuts across party lines and was reflected best in the administrations of both Roosevelts, Wilson’s presidency, and even the presidency of Herbert Hoover. It is now so commonplace that there is little use in differentiating presidencies since FDR except to say that President Reagan, who made some attempt to roll back the practical effects of the philosophy, was the exception.

With the idea that the central federal government actually manages the nation and has the power to create prosperity by doing anything more than smoothing the way for a market economy to prevail, Americans give license to government overreach. Congress, anxious to scratch the people’s collectivist itch, enables the executive by granting broad powers to interpret and implement vague laws that empower bureaucratic experts to do their will. The Supreme Court, heavily influenced by prevailing progressive philosophies, has allowed Congress to broadly delegate its legislative powers to the executive. The result is an executive branch that has become an example of nearly unchecked power.

Due to our form of government, we are not at risk of a rapid slide into totalitarianism like that of the German people in the 1930s, but we certainly seem to be getting close. A few more fallen checks and balances wherein a president is allowed to ignore the law with impunity could very well encourage a charismatic future president with dictatorial tendencies to ignore even more fundamental constitutional provisions, like the two-term limit. The current situation whereby individual members of congress determine whether a president is acting legally purely on the basis of partisanship, and the fact that a significant number of Americans apparently feel the same way, is good reason to quake for the future of the United States constitution.

Byron Schlomach earned his PhD in economics from Texas A&M University and has worked in the state public policy arena for over 20 years. He previously served as Chief Economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Goldwater Institute. Byron is now Director of State Policy at the 1889 Institute and Scholar in Residence at Oklahoma State University’s Free Enterprise Institute.

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Waters, Regulation, And Political “Sleight Of Hand”

At its most-basic level, sleight-of-hand is the art of performed misdirection.  A magician gets an audience to focus their attention on something shiny he is holding in one hand, distracting you from the trick he is attempting behind his back.  If successful, the audience is fooled into thinking that something magical has happened, completely unaware of what tricks the illusionist has engineered to accomplish his feat.  Woe be unto the illusionist who can’t complete his feat without exposing the artifices used to achieve it, or, worse, who public fails at their misdirection.

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News reports of federal agencies abusing the rights of Americans and violating the law have become all too common. It is no longer plausible for defenders of big government to argue that these abuses are simply a few isolated incidents. We have witnessed a veritable parade of lawless abuses from all corners of the federal government. Read more