from William McGurn in The WSJ Hillary’s Soft Despotism:
This kind of authoritarianism doesn’t come with goose steps or brown shirts or large populist movements. It prefers bureaucracy to bombast. It presents itself as a solution to the complexities of modern government, and it’s called the administrative state.
According to the most recent edition of “Ten Thousand Commandments”—the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual survey of federal regulations—in 2014 federal agencies issued 3,554 regulations while Congress passed only 224 new laws. That is 16 new regulations for every new law.
The result is the effective transfer of power from the American people acting through their elected representatives to the American people being told what to do—and threatened with crushing fines if they do not—by federal bureaucracies that use the vague congressional language in everything from Dodd-Frank to the Affordable Care Act to impose their own interpretations. Even worse, under the Supreme Court’s 1984 Chevron decision, the courts are basically told they must defer.
President Obama didn’t create rule by the administrative state. But he may have best captured its spirit two years ago when, in response to a question about congressional resistance to his agenda, he declared his pen mightier than the law: “I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.”
Which leaves us here: At a moment when the media is thick with characterizations of Donald Trump as the new Hitler, America might do well to devote some attention to the soft despotism of the woman who promises to further embolden this unelected, unaccountable and out-of-control fourth branch of government.