Grandpa used to come up to us boys down on the farm and holler, “Who’s in charge around here?” We’d yell back that he was, and it’s no wonder nothing was getting done. Then we’d laugh and feel good about ourselves for participating in an old-timer joke. There’s no better feeling as a child than being treated like an adult.

What answer might Grandpa receive if he posed the same question today inside the Oval Office? I don’t think it would make us laugh or feel good about ourselves. There’s no worse feeling as an adult than being treated like a child.

A convincing case could be made that no U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has been in charge of their administration. In the most significant presidential farewell address after George Washington’s, Eisenhower infamously warned, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

Less than two years later, the military-industrial complex assassinated Eisenhower’s successor. Although the evidence is overwhelming, presented in broad daylight, it’s still taboo — 60 years later — for the general citizenry to say those words aloud. We can’t move forward until we’ve come to terms with the past.

When discussing Eisenhower's farewell address, we tend to focus on his prescient warning against military-enforced government. We should not dismiss the rest of his speech. His warnings went far beyond the military.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research — these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs — balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage — balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between action of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

With the past few years in mind, consider Eisenhower’s following words:

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system —ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

On January 17, 1961, the most powerful man in the world warned us never to give an unelected federal bureaucracy the power to rule without our consent.

We didn’t listen.


Our natural inclination should be one of suspicion whenever governments, corporate media, and “experts” are aligned on a particular issue. Recent examples include the lead-up to the Iraq war and the response to Covid-19. The current campaign to scare the public into allowing government agencies to halt, ban, or control the accelerated development of artificial intelligence is another.

We should be suspicious when this happens because it’s easy to obfuscate and avoid responsibility when things inevitably go awry. There’s never an acceptable answer to who’s in charge. No one's around to take the blame.

The American people have no power to hold federal agencies run by unelected bureaucrats accountable. Under current law (The Congressional Review Act), federal agencies can enact and enforce any federal rule they want. The only recourse Congress has is to pass a joint resolution of disapproval.

In grade school, we learned the Constitution grants only one branch of government the power to make laws. Congress — the branch of government most accountable to the people at the most regular intervals — alone has this authorization.

I asked U.S. Senator Mike Lee (UT) how federal agency regulations impact the economy. “Federal regulations cost the American economy trillions of dollars every year,” said Sen. Lee. “These regulations disproportionately impact poor and middle-class families who usually have no way of knowing that everything they buy is more expensive because of federal regulatory compliance costs.”

The obvious solution is to pass a law requiring Congress to enact a joint resolution of approval before any major rule can take effect. The REINS Act does just that. In June, Representative Kat Cammack (FL) introduced the REINS Act, which passed the United States House of Representatives.

“This bill would reassert Congress' legislative authority and prevent excessive overreach by the executive branch in the federal rulemaking process,” said Rep. Cammack. “It would require every new 'major rule' proposed by federal agencies to be approved by the House and Senate before going into effect. The bill would also preserve Congress' authority to disapprove of a 'nonmajor rule' through a joint resolution.”

Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee are co-sponsoring the REINS Act in the United States Senate. With that in mind, I contacted Sen. Paul (KY) for his perspective.

“In an era of high inflation and out-of-control federal spending, considerable regulatory burdens on the private sector inhibit its ability to grow and create jobs,” said Sen. Paul. “Congress can no longer shirk its responsibility to the American people by allowing the unaccountable growth of the regulatory state."

"Government administrative agencies have gone beyond their original grants of power to implement policies not approved by Congress," continued Sen. Paul. "The REINS Act would require Congress to hold an up-or-down vote on any major regulation, with an annual economic impact of more than $100 million. The president would also have to sign the regulation before it could be enforced on the American people, job creators, or state and local governments. It’s time for Congress to resume its constitutional duty to make the law and then be held accountable for the details.”

It’s fascinating that we need a bill to require what the Constitution already demands: federal laws must be passed by Congress, not executive-branch bureaucrats. According to Sen. Lee, the federal government's proposed regulations would receive Congress' fast-track consideration under the REINS Act.

“Sometimes the cost and other burdens associated with federal regulations make sense and accomplish something that makes them worth the regulatory intrusion,” said Lee. “It is Congress’ job to weigh the relative merits of each proposal. As well-educated, well-intentioned, hard-working, and highly specialized as federal regulators might be, they’re not accountable to the people when they make decisions that harm hardworking Americans.”

Now, the age-old question – who's in charge around here? – goes to the Senate.

Written by

's Profile Picture Clint Betts

CEO, Founder | CEO.com