When Nancy Pelosi said “ But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." she didn’t mean because Congress was too lazy to read the thousands of pages carefully crafted by the minions of legislative aides with law degrees hired to incorporate the provisions specified by key lobbyists. Although they are – too lazy, that is.
No, what Pelosi meant was that the real work doesn’t get started until after a bill is passed by our duly elected representatives and signed into law by the President. Then the bill gets handed off to the administrators in a myriad of agencies, commissions and subcommittees within any one of 15 Executive Departments in the Executive Branch to give it the teeth that make it enforceable. This bureaucratic labyrinth of advocates, functionaries, and mini-despots uses every bit of power vested in them – and it’s quite a lot – to advance the agenda of whoever brought them to the dance. To paraphrase Stalin, “those who legislate decide nothing. Those who regulate decide everything ...”
Obama’s recent constitutional snafu involving mandated contraception in conjunction with the implementation of the “Affordable Care Act” illustrates precisely what Nancy Pelosi meant: Congress doesn’t decide how these laws are going to work in the real world, the people who write the administrative rules do. And this isn’t the first rodeo for those folks. They know how to rope and tie those doggies.
The beauty of this arrangement - for Congress members - is that handing off the rule making to some nameless “agency” to write “administrative rules” provides them with wide and deep coverage. If their constituents become upset by the law’s impact, the Senator/Congressman can claim that wasn’t the way it was intended to work. It’s very much like Obama’s “Don’t blame me, it’s the Do-nothing Congress” gambit, only in reverse.
By off-loading the rather important detail of actually implementing legislation, Congress is freed up to focus on their other very important job of spreading the wealth around, often ensuring it stops with them. This division of labor is also what allows states the luxury of electing to Congress such luminaries as Maxine Waters, Shirley Jackson Lee, and Frederica Wilson ( Don’t worry about the racial profile: these 3 are truly the worst. There are many non-black, non-female members who are likewise functional morons, but this trio, despite whatever degrees they hold from whatever fine institutions, are an embarrassment to themselves, their constituents and the electoral process.)
To be sure, the job doesn’t demand much brain power anymore. Which explains why so many members of Congress forget to pay their taxes, misappropriate campaign funds and have time to Tweet pictures of their private parts.
Maybe we should consider a return to the time when Congress focused on actually enacting the legislation they passed, instead of figuring out how to maximize their personal wealth by practicing legal (for them) insider trading. In fact, one might question the constitutionality of the Legislative Branch delegating key responsibilities back to the Executive Branch. It does rather upset the concept of separation of powers. Come back tomorrow for a more thorough discussion of the unconstitutionality of this decades long abdication of responsibility.