- - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Call it distraction. Illusion. Or just cry out, “Squirrel!”

While an army of reporters flocks to the White House Press Room to hear Jay Carney’s insults and misdirections, an army of bureaucrats are doing the real work of Barack Obama’s presidency, laboring in obscurity.

Magicians call it sleight-of-hand. Prestidigitation.

Try to uncover their work and be prepared to file Freedom of Information Act requests, go to court to get them honored, wade through redactions and obfuscations, and months later unearth some nuggets of truth — only to have those nuggets disregarded as “old news.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has just sued the National Park Service to uncover why extra money was spent to barricade the public from the World War II Memorial and other open-air areas during last fall’s so-called “government shutdown.” The Department of Interior is treating that knowledge as a military secret.

Hiding basic, simple information like this is how governance by unelected bureaucrats becomes a hidden government.

An estimated 2.5 million federal bureaucrats labor among roughly 500 federal departments, agencies, commissions, authorities and administrations. They answer to the president. Most media cover only the figureheads at the top, who are less than 1 percent of the top 1 percent. Occupy Wall Street would scream, but they’re already on the inside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Even if we break free from breathless wall-to-wall news coverage of Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy, the media’s attention is distracted totally by Obamacare (and only by the official White House version), meaning nobody notices that:

Immigration officials are issuing work permits to a million or so illegal aliens who take jobs that Americans won’t do, because Americans get underbid by this foreign competition.

Deportation rates are at record lows, not record highs as claimed, and they’re about to be reduced again.

The Justice Department claims “it’s only fair” to release thousands of drug dealers onto the streets (with express presidential approval), disregarding the fact that higher incarceration rates have brought our country the lowest crime rates in decades.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is re-creating the requirements that lenders issue sub-standard loans and mortgages — the very problem that sent the economy into its tailspin just a few years ago.

New EPA restrictions on power plants will raise your home energy bills for years to come.

President Obama uses the vast federal bureaucracy as his private army and to cover his tracks. He is enabled because Congress has given away so much power, passing laws yielding too much power to the executive branch. Mr. Obama’s executive orders are small compared to the 26,417 pages of final rules and regulations added last year to the Federal Register, based on powers given to the executive branch by Congress. These pages are a new record, as tallied by CEI.

But those pages cover only the 3,659 “final” rules issues in 2013; there are another 2,594 “proposed” rules that required an additional 52,894 pages in the Federal Register. Still, the total 79,311 pages were less than the 81,405 pages published in 2010, the year of Obamacare’s passage.

Of course, even more major rules and regulations are in the Obama pipeline. (This is the only pipeline the president is willing to approve.)

An upcoming report from Wayne Crews at CEI puts the annual cost of federal regulations as $1.9 trillion. Try reviving an economy that must carry that load. Our rebound from the last recession has been at only half the rate of prior recoveries, because no prior recovery had to bear such a heavy load.

Some conservatives rejoice that Mr. Obama’s approval numbers are in the dumps. It doesn’t matter. To the contrary, his unpopularity goads him to push even harder to accomplish his agenda while he can, before Republicans possibly win a majority in the Senate this fall. So long as he can push his agenda in obscurity, he has a better chance to succeed.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Unless we are extra-vigilant now, we will have less liberty by the time new senators are sworn in.

Former Congressman Istook’s daily radio program can be heard online, noon to 3 pm Eastern time, at www. kzlsam.com. Sign up for his free email newsletter at eepurl.com/JPojD.

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