It’s quite funny to hear this kind of talk from liberals when their guy is in power. Do ya think they would be talking about giving the President MORE power if it was a Republican in office?
…But there is a way out: Make the executive branch more powerful.
This is a good moment to advocate greater executive branch power because we’ve just seen a monumental example of executive branch incompetence: the botched Obamacare rollout. It’s important to advocate greater executive branch power in a chastened mood. It’s not that the executive branch is trustworthy; it’s just that we’re better off when the presidency is strong than we are when the rentier groups are strong, or when Congress, which is now completely captured by the rentier groups, is strong.
Here are the advantages. First, it is possible to mobilize the executive branch to come to policy conclusion on something like immigration reform. It’s nearly impossible for Congress to lead us to a conclusion about anything. Second, executive branch officials are more sheltered from the interest groups than Congressional officials. Third, executive branch officials usually have more specialized knowledge than staffers on Capitol Hill and longer historical memories. Fourth, Congressional deliberations, to the extent they exist at all, are rooted in rigid political frameworks. Some agencies, especially places like the Office of Management and Budget, are reasonably removed from excessive partisanship. Fifth, executive branch officials, if they were liberated from rigid Congressional strictures, would have more discretion to respond to their screw-ups, like the Obamacare implementation. Finally, the nation can take it out on a president’s party when a president’s laws don’t work. That doesn’t happen in Congressional elections, where most have safe seats.
So what’s the problem he want’s a way out of? Special interests creating gridlock. As if this was not the case when Bush was in office.
Somehow I don’t think Brooks espoused the view back then that giving Bush more power would lead to smoother government.
And even more ludicrous is the fact that he believes that the Executive branch isn’t beholdened to special interests.
The problem, though, is that once the door was opened to this brand of clientelism, it could never again be closed. Over the decades, the Democrats have added scores of clients to their operation: trade and industrial unions, African Americans, environmentalists, feminists, government unions, consumer rights advocates, big business, and big city bosses and their lieutenants. All of them are with the Democratic party in part because of the special benefits it promises them when in office, and all have a major say in how the party behaves in government. With more and more clients who needed constant tending, it became harder and harder for subsequent Democratic leaders to focus on the public good. Thus, in the years since FDR’s tenure, the Democratic agenda has looked less like republican liberalism and more like clientele liberalism—big government activism not for the sake of the whole country, but for the sake of the voters whom the Democrats privilege.
And under the Obama administration, clientele liberalism has achieved a kind of apotheosis. The stimulus, the health care bill, cap and trade, and the financial reform package were all designed with heavy input from the party’s clients, and ultimately each reflects their priorities, so much so that any kind of national purpose the legislation might have served was totally undermined.
Special interests have always been a factor in this country, and every country. Getting rid of them will not happen. But if you want to reduce their power then I like Allah’s idea:
Seems to me if you’re worried about special interests capturing government, you’re better off empowering Congress so that those interests hold each other in check to some extent than you are empowering a single government official who’ll end up serving the particular interests that have captured him.