Putting Congress in Control of Tax Policy Again; Abolishing the IRS Would Rein in a Runaway President

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 9, 2014 | Go to article overview

Putting Congress in Control of Tax Policy Again; Abolishing the IRS Would Rein in a Runaway President


Byline: Lewis K. Uhler and Peter J. Ferrara

House Speaker John A. Boehner is confronted by a president who has become virtually lawless: He runs roughshod over existing laws and legislation by changing them or not enforcing them, in complete violation of the separation of powers under Article II, Section 3. Administrative agencies under his jurisdiction issue rules and edicts beyond the scope ever intended by Congress in its enabling legislation. He makes "recess" appointments that are clearly unlawful and declared so unanimously by the Supreme Court. The list goes on and on.

Mr. Boehner has several responses available, including impeachment. He has chosen a lawsuit against President Obama to enforce the separation of powers. There is a more immediate and contemporaneous route to restoring congressional legislative authority than awaiting the multiyear, uncertain outcome of the judicial process.

It begins with the recognition that Congress has voluntarily diluted its own legislative powers over the years, starting with the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887, an "independent agency" that developed regulations for railroad and shipping rates and operations. However, Congress retained control over the commission and terminated it in 1980 in favor of rate competition, setting a positive free-market precedent.

Subsequently, delegation of rule-making authority to agencies and bureaus under presidential control began the dilution of congressional authority and the separation of powers. Congress has walked away without any meaningful oversight over the rules these entities promulgate or how they are administrated. The rules issued by these agencies are a burden now estimated by the Competitive Enterprise Institute to cost our economy $1.9 trillion a year in compliance expenses, equal to more than half of our nation's annual budget.

Since the Constitution does not authorize Congress to delegate its legislative duties to others, Congress could redeem itself immediately by reasserting its legislative authority. A good place to start is with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which has become a runaway agency. The specter of the IRS commissioner smirking at outraged House Ways and Means Committee members seeking honest answers about Lois Lerner's "lost" emails should terrify law-abiding taxpayers. A very real option would be for Congress to abolish or defund the IRS -- now with 90,000 employees and a $2 billion budget -- and create a new tax agency wholly under congressional control.

The Constitution provides that only "Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes " (Article I, Section 8). …

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