Why doesn’t Congress want power?
January 25, 2013 15 Comments
One of the interesting evolutions we’ve observed in our government the past 50-100 years or so is that our Congress does not want to have power. They want to give power to the other branches. They have devolved most actual tangible law-making to regulators and bureaucrats. They’ll pass a law (e.g. campaign finance reform) that many of them believe unconstitutional but hope the Supreme Court strikes it down. They don’t want to declare war or not-declare war, they want the President to just let ‘em know when he decides to use ‘war powers’. Etc.
Almost everywhere you look you see the Legislative Branch doing its darndest to make sure it gives power away to one of the other branches.
Today the Supreme Court (UPDATE: Nope, a lower court; the SC will presumably rule on this later) decided that the President had unconstitutionally ‘appointed’ some folks in defiance of an explicitly Constitutionally-specified power of Congress. If we had a true 6th-grade-civics ‘checks and balances’ type of government in which the Legislative Branch were coequal with and jockeying for power against the other two, they would have done something about this long ago. In light of this Supreme Court decision, a Legislative Branch that cared about its powers would presumably begin impeachment charges against the President for overstepping his authority and usurping power that is rightfully theirs. There is zero chance of that happening. Many reading this idea probably are confused by it, so outlandish it sounds. But think about it.
Now, of course there’s the fact that (due to the Clinton precedent) ‘impeachment’ as such will never be used again, against any President, for any reason, of course. But actually, that’s just another case in point.
So why doesn’t the US Congress want to have power? I guess, bless ‘em, it’s working for them – my impression is that Congressmen can get wealthier than ever. And (perhaps relatedly) the one power they do jealously guard is the power to spend money. But aside from that, they seem content to wither on the vine, and hand off power to the others. It’s weird.