“Government Gone Wild”
The United States government operates under the confines of the U.S. Constitution, and exclusively possesses those powers expressly granted to it in this document. In many aspects of American life, however, government acts outside those enumerated powers and encroaches upon our freedoms without checks or court reviews. A truly limited government helps its citizens by only exercising its particular, spelled out tasks and by removing itself from interfering in decisions or jobs best completed by private citizens or the business community.
This situation is especially evidenced in the administrative agencies of the Executive branch. These agencies now have independent authority to disseminate rules, enforce those rules, and then to adjudicate enforcement of the rules. There is no existing check on the power of these independent agencies. The SGLF believes that there need to be limits to the powers of these agencies and their overreach into individual states.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plays a large role in the increased federalization process. FEMA was originally created as a national catastrophe response agency, not as a federal program to subsidize Americans who live in risky, disaster-prone areas. President Obama has made 343 declarations since taking office in January 2009, the most in FEMA history. Instead of creating another federal agency to handle natural disasters, Congress could establish requirements stipulating which circumstances can be declared natural disasters. A key way to accomplish this would be to align these declarations with measurement scales used for natural disasters. The costs associated with natural disasters in terms of lives, homes and possessions, and economic costs are horrible. However, adding more and more responsibilities and obligations to the FEMA and federal government’s plate will only result in a losing situation for taxpayers.
The federal government’s acquisition of and control over land in the United States is getting out of control. According to the Department of the Interior, payment in lieu of taxes for taking land off local tax rolls under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was $358.5 million. In 2004, the Government Services Administration reported that the federal government owned some 5,104,608 acres of “vacant” land, while in 2003, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) reported that the National Park Service has deferred maintenance by billions of dollars on its land. In 2007, the GAO reported that the Interior Department spent $1.6 billion annually on maintenance and construction, but had a $9.6 billion backlog of deferred maintenance projects. Nevada itself is already 84.48% owned by the federal government, not including any foreclosed housing that the government now owns as well.
Not only does federal possession of land add to the federal deficit through maintenance and up-keep costs, but it also prevents job-creating activities from occurring on that land. The farming, mining, and forestry industries could all create jobs on these parcels of land that are being used for nothing—and taxpayers are taking the hit for it.
Measures designed to protect the health and welfare of the environment and society are very necessary. These policies, like others that regulate businesses and citizens of the United States, should be created and enforced through their proper channels, not independently created, regulated, and enforced by one single entity. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) blatant overreach has been denounced by members of both parties. The EPA’s lack of discretion in promulgating rules has and will continue to effect jobs and energy costs. In addition to this lack of discretion, the EPA’s overregulation also weighs heavily on businesses across all fifty states. Billions of dollars yearly for compliance with the EPA’s heavy-handed measures may force businesses to leave the United States, or deter them from locating here in the first place. The EPA’s independent authority to create and then unilaterally enforce these rules must be stopped.
The financial regulatory overhaul Dodd-Frank Act (DFA) decreases competition amongst financial institutions in the United States, while simultaneously treating large firms differently than small ones. In treating these two types of firms differently, small firms have a far smaller chance of succeeding, and the large firms that have been deemed “too big to fail” are at a competitive advantage compared to their smaller counterparts. The DFA’s central notion that the Federal Reserve Bank will control the activities of these firms also perpetuates this unfair advantage. Decisions regarding competitiveness and who prevails in the free market system should be left to the system. The DFA intrudes into the marketplace and does not provide protection to other institutions that exist. This gross interference in the free enterprise system needs to be repealed or fixed immediately.
The Dodd-Frank Act:
- Intrudes into matters best left to the states or businesses themselves
- Intrudes into the judicial branch’s responsibilities
- Distorts residential mortgage markets