Congress Must Stop Death-by-Decree

Last summer, at the first meeting of the Trump Leadership Council — an advisory group consisting of top CEOs from major companies — Donald Trump asked business leaders what their biggest problems were.

I expected the answer to be America’s anti-growth tax system. Almost all the CEOs did list the federal tax code as an albatross, but not the heaviest one. Instead, I was surprised to learn, most found the biggest restraint on growth to be federal red tape and regulation. Across all industries — manufacturers, energy firms, financial services, agriculture interests — federal rules were seen as mindless, inefficient, costly and incomprehensible.

Trump is off to a speedy start in rolling back the rule-making industry in Washington. He has signed an executive order that mandates that any agency wanting to implement a new business regulation must at the same time repeal two existing regulations. This should reverse the tide of regulatory burdens. Yet there’s so much more to be done. And Congress, not just the president, will have to play a lead role.

Time out for a civics lesson: One of the mysteries of American government over the last half-century is why Congress has acceded so much lawmaking authority to what is now the fourth branch of government: federal agencies and interest groups. These agencies — the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration and dozens more — have become fiefdoms that reign over private industries. They are effectively accountable to no one — and certainly not to Congress.

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But of course, Congress is supposed to make the laws — not unelected bureaucrats at…