February 7, 2013

MARIO LOYOLA: The Federal-State Crackup.

For decades, Democrats and Republicans alike have invested heavily in governance schemes that erode the Constitution’s separation of powers and mar its proper functioning. The Federal judiciary has uniformly rubber-stamped these schemes. The consequence has been an unsustainable spree of borrowing, spending and overregulation at the Federal level, cyclical fiscal crises at the state level, and less accountable and less representative government at every level.

These governance schemes are generally of two kinds: one erodes the separation of powers between Federal and state governments, while the other erodes the separation of powers within the Federal government. In the first category is “cooperative federalism”, whereby the Federal government uses monopoly powers to coerce and subvert the prerogatives of state governments. In the other is Congress’s delegation of vast rule-making authority to administrative agencies.

These two categories of concern are often treated as being entirely distinct, but they share profound similarities. Both are methods for Congress to escape accountability by hiding its power in other institutions of government.

Escaping accountability is a popular scheme.