Checks and Balances
Our Founding Fathers intended for our government to have numerous checks and balances, stumbling blocks to prevent one person or small group from steamrolling over the opposition with their agenda. Only three times in recent history (i.e. my lifetime) has the president been in such a powerful position. In 1964 Lyndon Johnson rushed an unprecedented wave of civil rights legislation through Congress. In the early 1980s, Reagan’s popularity, combined with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and Richard Viguerie’s direct mail wizardry, made the Right practically drunk with power.
And now, of course, Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress, and Bush intends to “spend the political capital I’ve earned.”
Lots of Republican senators and congressmen have been under Bush’s thumb ever since the summer of 2002 when Bush campaigned heavily for the mid-term elections. And some of them are deciding that “Nosiree, we’re not gonna be Bush’s Bitches any more. We have minds of our own, and constituents to represent.”
And state governments, Democrat and Republican, are starting to take on some of the responsibilities that the federal government has been neglecting over the past four years. The State of Connecticut will be investigating whether drug companies are using deceptive marketing practices. Ohio has filed suit for securities fraud against Fannie Mae. And eight states are suing to force utility companies to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.
Connecticut’s Attorney General summed things up with “Our action is the result of federal inaction. The [Bush] administration has not just failed to enforce the law, it has sought to undercut it and gut it. . . . States are filling the vacuum."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups are concerned about the growing “problem” of “the overreaching of the state attorneys general.”
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has been the best known example of prosecuting corporate sleaze at the state level; consequently he’s a favorite target of Big Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Spitzer said that “Conservatives pushed for federalism to begin with. They were trying to limit federal enforcement. They are now paying for the Frankenstein they created."
Business leaders, as they always do when a state regulator goes after them, are complaining about “a patchquilt of state and local regulations.” Translation: Hey, it’s hard enough to bribe one federal agency. Now we have to pay bribes, I mean, campaign contributions, to fifty state regulators as well.