Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gary Palmer: Liberals call for less democracy

  Is it time to ditch the Constitution? Does representative government or “democracy” really impede progress?

  Peter Orszag, President Obama’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget, believes it does. His recent article entitled “Too Much of a Good Thing” makes his case for a more powerful administrative state that will function outside of election politics. What Orszag suggests is that when it comes to the most important decisions regarding the power and influence of the federal government, we need to make elections irrelevant.

  Orszag wrote, “During my recent stint in the Obama administration as director of the Office of Management and Budget, it was clear to me that the country's political polarization was growing worse—harming Washington's ability to do the basic, necessary work of governing. To solve the serious problems facing our country,” Orszag continued, “we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.”

  Orszag laments the legislative gridlock that has made it “…increasingly difficult for lawmakers to tackle the issues that are central to our country's future.” He cites issues such as climate change and federal spending as examples and even writes that in order to get the economy growing again we need more, not less, deficit spending over the next two years.

  But the issues most Americans see as central to the future of the country are not the same as what Orszag and other liberals see. The policies of progressives in both parties have gone well beyond what millions of Americans believe is the basic or necessary work of the federal government. Liberal policies enacted by Congress or forced upon us by federal agencies have doubled household utility bills, doubled the price of a gallon of gasoline, and threaten the quality of our health care system. These policies have cost millions of Americans their jobs, their homes and their savings and left the nation with trillions of dollars of debt.

  Yet Orszag is calling for an even more powerful ”administrative state” at a time with the U.S. economy is being smothered by federal regulations and increased deficit spending.

  Instead of more deficit spending, poll after poll shows that most people want the federal government to cut spending and not raise taxes, even for the wealthy.  Instead of more regulation, most Americans want the shackles removed from our economy. It is because of the out-of-control spending and job-killing regulations imposed upon them that grassroots citizens got organized and took action resulting in the Tea Party conservatives’ stunning successes in the 2010 election. In other words, gridlock has occurred because people have risen up against the policies of both parties.

  Orszag is not alone in this view.  In his book “Overhaul”, Steve Rattner also called for allowing enlightened bureaucrats to run government outside the interferences of the people’s elected representatives. Kurt Anderson, the editor of New York Magazine, wrote that our constitutional operating system may no longer be adequate. But Harold Myerson, editor-at-large of The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post, took it even further by writing that in order to eliminate the obstacles to progress, it is time for America to ditch the Constitution and adopt a parliamentary style of government.

  In an article for The American Prospect entitled “Did the Founding Fathers Screw Up?” Myerson quoted Lloyd Cutler, the former Carter Administration White House counsel, who has concluded that the problem is the Constitution. “More bluntly,” Myerson wrote, “the Founding Fathers got it wrong.”

  Myerson concluded his article by writing, “Over the past decade, it’s grown harder to argue that American democracy has been delivering for its people as well as China’s Leninist capitalism has for the Chinese. By the measure of economic growth, a smart authoritarian elite beats a self-negating democratic republic four days out of five.

  You should not be shocked by this. Progressives have always wanted to replace constitutional government with the administrative state.

  As Professor Edward J. Erler of California State University pointed out in a recent speech, the administrative state “…poses the greatest challenge to limited government because it elevates the welfare of the community—whether real or contrived—over the constitutional rights of everyone else.” Prof. Erler added, “The minions of the administrative state seek to destroy constitutional boundaries in their desire to replace politics with administration. This is tantamount to denying that legitimate government derives from the consent of the governed, or that limited government rests on the sovereignty of the people.”

  In other words, when the administrative state replaces politics as the mechanism for determining how we will govern ourselves, appointed experts who are unaccountable to the people become all-powerful.

  It is through the political process we have the ability to influence law and enact policies that can limit the scope and reach of government. But when people abandon politics, as almost half of the voting eligible population has done, they give up their opportunity to influence policy and lose their ability to constrain government. And that is exactly what liberals like Orszag hope we will do.

  About the author: Gary Parlmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

  This article was published by the Alabama Policy Institute.

1 comment:

  1. Uh, Gary Palmer, your "liberals" are pretty much all Wall Street financiers and establishment types. These insiders, swells indeed, are surely steamed that a small group of radicals from your team (with some help from ConservaDems) are determined to hold up policy prescriptions that are pretty much agreed upon. Gary Palmer, being who Gary Palmer is, fails to accurately convey questions they, and journalist Harold Meyerson, are posing. Palmer and others funded by the monied interests, like Edward J. Erler of the Claremont Institute for instance, love how those whom they serve can hold up reforms and such. Gary Palmer is perfectly happy with how money controls so much in our current politics. He needs to save his sermons on what liberals want or at least find some serious lefties to cite.