Congress’s Accelerating Dereliction of Duty

How seriously Congress has ever taken its responsibility to serve as a “check and balance” against the powers of the executive and judicial branches of the U.S. government is debatable, but it has certainly run pell-mell from those clearly delineated responsibilities in the past several decades: abdicating its sole power to declare war, enabling the rise of an imperial presidency throughout the 20th and into the 21st centuries, and culminating in its almost unanimous passage of the unread USA-PATRIOT Act that granted the executive the near-total unitary power the Constitution’s framers hoped to guard against.

The current health-care “reform” legislation thus represents but the latest of Congress’s abusing its power to enact legislation while retaining none of the responsibility or accountability for overseeing the subsequent use of the power it delegates thereby. The House version of the legislation grants a politically appointed committee (the majority appointed by the president) total discretion to design and implement all aspects of our future health care: who will be covered, for what care, at what cost; who will pay; what regulations will prevail. The Senate version proposes to pay for the legislation through achieving huge imaginary savings from Medicare, and delegates to another politically appointed committee the power to recommend “annual Medicare payment rates as well as other reforms” [emphasis added]—and whose decisions would be approved and disapproved at the sole discretion of the president. In sum, total control over the very lives and deaths of every American is being deputed to unaccountable committees vested with extraordinary powers.

Having now violated every principle of the doctrine of nondelegation, Congress can either be fired en masse or its actions repudiated by the Supreme Court. I’m taking no bets on either.

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