Cultural Revolutions

Denouncing 'Imperial Congress'

"Imperial Congress"—many in the conservative movement are denouncing it these days. From all over the right, we hear worries about slipping presidential prerogatives, or denunciations of Congress's "meddling" in foreign policy.

But I would argue that it is the Imperial Presidency that threatens our freedom. Too often. Congress simply lays down in front of the executive steamroller. When it attempts to recover a crumb or two of its constitutional prerogatives—as with the War Powers Act or the Boland Amendment—it is condemned for treading on "presidential" territory.

Some conservatives—who on other days pooh-pooh Reagan-Bush budget deficits as meaningless—even make a cause out of the size of Congress's budget, which totals .08 percent of federal outlays. Of course Congress's budget should be cut—all of Washington needs a meat axe taken to it. But in a city of executive-branch sinkholes like HUD, Congress is hardly the place to start. Given the gargantuan government we have—which also violates the Constitution, of course—it is in the taxpayers' interest for Congress to have sufficient staff, if only to throw a few roadblocks in the way of the executive behemoth. We should also remember that all the congressional staffs put together wouldn't fill one bureau in HHS.

The Founders, steeped in the English parliamentary...

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