Vivek Ramaswamy has some good ideas for the federal bureaucracy

Nobody seriously believes that America can manage without a bureaucracy. Governments have always needed “functionaries” to implement policies. However, every conservative understands that America’s federal bureaucracy is completely out of control, routinely abuses the power entrusted to it, and needs to be brought to heel. That’s why Vivek Ramaswamy, a lawyer and businessman who is a declared candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has announced that his goals as president will include halving the federal workforce and ending the FBI. Those are great ideas!

One of the most pernicious things about the bureaucracy is that Congress has long been complicit in its development. The constitutional division of labor in American government is straightforward: Congress makes the laws; the President puts them into effect. However, what Congress has been doing for decades is to give a rough outline of what it wants to have happen, and then leave to the bureaucracy the job of creating “rules” to “implement” Congress’s goals.

More often than not, though, those rules are, in fact, substantive laws written by unaccountable bureaucrats, rather than accountable politicians. Additionally, many rules leave administrative law proceedings as the public’s only recourse, which means the “laws” governing Americans circumvent judicial oversight under the system set up in Art. III.

As of 2021, the Federal Register, home to the regulations controlling every aspect of American life, contains around 95,000 pages, almost 22,000 notices, almost 380 presidential documents, approximately 2,000 proposed rules, and over 3,200 final rules. The only ones who really know what’s in the Federal Register are the bureaucrats, and even they know only the small portion for which they are responsible. Most Americans know nothing about the myriad, picayune, and often ridiculous rules governing them, making them easy pickings for aggressive bureaucrats.

Image: Vivek Ramaswamy. Just The News video screengrab.

Instead of a constitutionally organized representative republic, our government has become a nightmarish bureaucratic kakistocracy: That is, a system of government in which unelected people who are increasingly less and less qualified (thanks to equity- not merit-based hiring) control every aspect of our lives. It is the worst of all possible worlds.

Many on the right have called for a smaller federal government, but neither Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, nor Trump were able to do more than nibble around the edges. The bureaucratic beast, aided by statutes, union rules, a supportive media, and lots of leftist money, has always pushed back. (And frankly, the Bush dynasty didn’t push hard, for George H.W. Bush was himself a creature of the bureaucracy.)

Ramaswamy, however, claims to know how to get the job done. He believes that the powers granted to the executive under Article II of the Constitution are sufficient to push through the statutes, regulations, and money that currently keep the bureaucracy in power. “A lot of those civil services protections,” he says, “are unconstitutional.”

He’s right, of course. Neither Congress nor the judiciary can legitimately hedge the president’s constitutional powers. After all, as Ramaswamy says, “If somebody works for you, and you can’t fire them, then they don't actually work for you, you work for them.”

Ramaswamy says that, if he’s voted into office, he will fire up to half of the federal workforce. He acknowledges that this will inevitably be litigated, but believes the current Supreme Court agrees with him about Article II. (I know Thomas and Alito do; I have my doubts about the other “conservatives” justices.) Ramaswamy thinks this is the time to strike and create a precedent that will finally affirm that the president, not the administrative state, has the power.

Ramaswamy has more to say on the subject, including criticizing Congress’s arrogation of executive power, even as it grants legislative power to the agencies. You can see the entire video (only 4 minutes long) at Just The News.

Ramaswamy’s challenge to the entire government works well with his promise that, given the chance, he will shut down the FBI. He notes that it has never been a proper institution because of its hyper-partisan nature, beginning with J. Edgar Hoover himself. Ramaswamy would then start from scratch, building an institution that serves Americans, not preferred political parties:

Ramaswamy’s chance at the White House is a long shot, even longer than Trump’s in 2016. Trump, after all, was already incredibly famous. However, as I’ve noted, I like Ramaswamy’s energy, practical conservativism, and willingness to wage war against the perpetuation of a broken, unconstitutional system.



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