What Lies Ahead for America? | Sen. Mike Lee at #Heritage50

What Lies Ahead for America? | Sen. Mike Lee at #Heritage50

Sen. Mike Lee gives an address at Heritage’s 50th Anniversary Leadership Summit.

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Thank you all for being here and thank You for your support for the Heritage Foundation Institution uh and it and I'm so happy To be joining you to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the the founding of this Amazing amazing organization Over the last 50 years the Heritage Foundation has done such amazing work to Advance its principles to advance Principles like limited government and Free markets and individual liberty This has been absolutely instrumental in Shaping the American political landscape It's made policy makers better informed It's allowed more Americans to become More engaged and I thank you for Supporting and working within the Heritage Foundation As we celebrate these remarkable Achievements over the last half century Reflecting on what lies ahead for America is really important more now Than ever We're approaching our nation's 250th Anniversary and as we think about that We've got to imagine what lies ahead and What's really at stake From the economy to health care to Education the way our system of Government operates Uh these things are significant Heritage's contributions are Indispensable and our decisions will

Have far-reaching impacts that will Stretch another 50 and indeed another 250 years into the future Well we've got to do something important Something that Heritage is always Advocating for These decisions must be our decisions They must be decisions we make rather Than having them foisted upon us Reminds me of a headline that I saw a Few months ago in I believe it was in Huffington Post Prince Harry Prince Harry uh someone I always try to Quote as often as I can Was giving a speech at that venerable Democratic institution known as the United Nations And he started lecturing the American People on this global Assault on Democracy do in large part as I remember To his disagreement With the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs case And I thought I wonder if he understands All the layers of irony that goes along With this I mean first of all obviously You have a supreme court precedent that Had taken away removed from the Democratic process the ability of the People to determine their own laws he Missed that part He missed the part that he is himself The great great great great grandson of

King George III not just once but twice I think both of his parents were related To King George III uh and so this is Prompted me ultimately to uh tweet uh And I'm very proud of this one Love being lectured on Democracy by an Actual Prince Best weight ever Look I first got into this business for That reason because I believe the American people deserve to be in charge Of their own destiny it deserve to be in Charge of their own government that's Really why we fought the revolution Because decisions were being made far From us by a large distant national Government one but text taxed us too Much one that regulated us excessively One that sent forth swarms of officers To eat out our substance it was so slow To respond to our needs that it caused a Lot of problems When I first ran for office because of These concerns and seeing Echoes of that And seeing the fact that the federal Government has simply drifted Much too far from its constitutional Moorings Now in many respects it can become most Obvious that that we've drifted far from Some of the affirmative prohibitions in The Constitution yeah we've seen a Deterioration of our rights under the First second

Fourth and fifth amendments just just to Name a few But I believe that the original sin Of drifting from the Constitution is Much more basic than that it's much more Fundamental than that this original sin All emanates from our Drift from The Constitution's to fundamental structural Protections And and by this I mean the vertical Protection of federalism which of course Identifies the relationship between the States and the federal government and The horizontal protection which we call Separation of powers which within the Federal government identifies the areas Of responsibility within the legislative Executive and judicial branches Our drift away from both of these things Occurred simultaneously one propelling The other And it's from this fundamental deviation That all other departures from the Constitution can be traced By contrast by restoring these Protections I think we can heal most if Not all other weakening of the Constitution let me explain a little bit What I mean So the Constitution puts the federal Government in charge of just a few basic Things it's not a general purpose Government those are States states and Their political subdivisions cities

Towns counties and so forth The federal government has just a Limited purpose it's um think of it as Your homeowners association but with an Army uh It has to be To Charter the constitution in order to Be able to act we can't just say it Would be a good idea if we did X Y or Z We have to identify something to do that Normally you have to look to Article 1 Section 8 which is where nearly every Power Congress has the federal Government has can be found there's Nothing in there that just says pass Laws for the good of the people that That doesn't exist and if someone tells You otherwise they're they're misreading Parts of Article 1 Section 8. so what Does it put us in charge of well it puts Congress the federal government in Charge of National Defense weights and Measures trademarks copyrights and Patents puts us in charge of Immigration And Naturalization control of our border Or you know we're supposed to do that It puts us in charge of regulating trade Or commerce between the states with Foreign Nations and with the Indian Tribes of establishing uh Navy and Armies militias which we now call National Guard there are a few other Powers but you get the idea this is the Basic gist of it that's more or less uh

The the the the big picture landscape And that's about as far as it goes Everything else with good reason is Relegated reserved to the states or to The people Because it's a state and local level Where government tends to be the most Accountable to the people doesn't mean They don't make mistakes it just means It's easier to turn turn it around think Of the difference between driving an Aircraft carrier And a jet ski you can turn around a jet Ski really fast and if you've got one of Your kids with you on the back of the Jet ski you can turn around so fast that They'll go flying off and skipping Across the lake like a rug not that I've Tried that but you know it's been known To happen An aircraft carrier might take you I Don't know a half mile or a mile to turn Because it's really big and the founding Fathers understood this Dynamic that's Why they put only a few basic powers With us because we're harder to turn Around So this careful balance of power between The three branches and between the Federal power and the state power Remained in Balance really until the Mid-1930s And it worked really well it ushered in The longest most sustained most

Remarkable most unforeseen peacetime Economic expansion Perhaps in the world's history But it started to change in the mid 1930s During Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal Program you see prior to the New Deal The collective X -tures of the states had always exceeded The expenditure of the federal Government at least with the sole Exception of a couple of wartime Contexts in which other things became Necessary and then returned to normal But after the New Deal era it has always Remained the case the federal government Spends more than every state in the Entire country combined That is a problem and it's never been Restored since then So this broadening of federal power Is itself a problem and I I trace it Back personally to one date April 12 1937 it was two day two years To the date that the Supreme Court had Moved into its current building And the Supreme Court decided a case Called nlrb versus Jones and Laughlin Steel company It didn't The notice of a lot of people many Washington insiders were aware of it Basically the Supreme Court reimagined It reinterpreted Article 1 Section 8

Clause 3 the Commerce Clause to give Congress the power not just to regulate Interstate commercial transactions to Make sure that the states weren't Erecting commercial barriers to trade Between them But it gave congress the power to Regulate anything and everything that in The aggregate Affects interstate commerce which means Congress could now regulate everything If Congress could imagine it and had Lawyers clever enough to write it the Right way Congress could regulate it All of a sudden what was supposed to be This Dynamic that Madison described in Federal is 45. is the federal government Having powers they're described as few And defined in the state's Powers Numerous and indefinite it's like they Flipped the pyramid on its head So all of a sudden Congress had this Enormous power To regulate labor manufacturing Agriculture mining health safety welfare All those things uh to the extent they Could do anything about them in the past They had to be tied to something else to Their military power or or some other Enumerated power all of a sudden now They could just do anything This created a curious shift To make more laws in more areas and be More accountable to more people because

They were making more laws in more areas They didn't want that it requires a lot Of work And people get mad at you when you pass Laws that hurt people So they started a new dangerous thing at The same time they had just shifted the Balance of power between the states and The federal government the vertical Protection They said we're not just going to be Content to make laws anymore We're going to make other lawmakers So Congress started passing laws that Sound more like platitudes we shall have Good law in area X and we hereby Delegate to commission y the power to Create rules that will be enforced as Laws And they will carry it out and we won't Be accountable Now if they did this uh because it was Easier and because they wouldn't get Challenged as easily It's gone on and on ever since then it Got so bad I mean they they passed laws Saying things like we shall have good And fair prices for crops and we hereby Delegate to the U.S department of Agriculture the power to prescribe Limits on how much wheat someone can Produce in a year A guy named Roscoe filburn got caught up In this web he got charged thousands of

Dollars in fines Based on the fact that he grew too much Wheat on his farm in present day Dayton Ohio suburbs He challenged that saying no we we can't Do that if this wheat the wheat by which I exceeded my grand production quota It never left my farm at all it never Entered interstate commerce you can't Regulate it and the Supreme Court came Back this was in 1942 in a case called Wickard V filburn and said ah but by not Selling your wheat and keeping it on Your farm you refrain from buying other Wheat on the open Interstate market and By doing that you had a substantial Effect on interstate commerce I mean This is like the butterfly Theory but For wheat The Supreme Court upheld that Restriction And So within wickard V filburn you see The perfect illustration Congress Conquered new domain agriculture Congress didn't want to legislate it Outsourced it to the department of Agriculture agriculture came up with Arbitrary limits those were enforced Uated to this day We have executive branch agencies all The time issuing edicts And all of a sudden politicians when They get one of these that's unpopular With their constituents is has been

Known to happen Like when they designate certain areas Out of ozone attainment because they set Their ozone limits into EPA sometimes Below where Mother Nature herself sets Them in the absence of human activity People complain you know what Politicians do them they beat their Chests and they say those Barbarians at EPA you know what I'm going to do I'm Going to write them a harshly worded Letter As if that were our job So look this system has become more and More common It's really good for a few people it's Good for politicians who sole aspiration Is achieving and maintaining lifetime Incumbency it's really good for Bureaucrats nameless faceless people who Well hard-working and well-intentioned And specialized and whatever Would never get elected to dog catcher Because you know it's not really their Thing and all of a sudden they're Treated as emperors At least as princes It's really good for a small handful of Accountants lawyers compliance Specialists and lobbyists who make their Money off of complexity as Arthur Brooks Used to say complexity is itself a Subsidy But it's really bad for everyone else

Everyone else and by everyone else I Mean everyone because every single one Of us suffers as a result of that Because these regulations these things Passed into law not by people who you Elected because the American economy two To three trillion dollars every single Year It's like a backdoor invisible tax but You don't know how much it is or who's Responsible for it because it's buried Into the price of every single thing you Buy every good every service and it also Comes out of diminished wages Unemployment and underemployment It disproportionately affects And hurts America's poor and middle Class the lifeblood of our economy And so for reasons that have become Cultural within Washington especially Within Congress We've as a people just started to accept That that's the way things were that you Know we as a congress delegated and That's what we do then when agencies do Something we don't like we rent them a Harshly worded letter But that's not the government the Founders envisioned heck it's not even The government the founders created It's not the government that our Constitution to which we've all sworn an Oath who hold these offices requires We're straying further from it every

Single day that is what is at stake It's about accountability to the public It's about the Republican form of Government as a whole It's about article one sections one and Seven which make clear that you cannot Pass a federal law Without going through this prescribed Formula where both houses of Congress Passed the same proposed law submitted To the president for Signature veto or Acquiescence and the president either Signs it acquiesces or vetoes it and Then if it's uh did Congress overrides It with two-thirds super majority votes In each house then it may become a law Without that article one section 7 Formula there is and can be and must Never be federal law and yet we do it All the time Madison As if envisioning this moment and Fearing that it might one day arise but Not envisioning it completely Commented on this in Federalist number 62. here's how he put it quote it will Be of little Avail to the people That their laws are made by men of their Own choice if the laws be so voluminous That they cannot be read or so Incoherent that they cannot be Understood if it be repealed or revised Before they're promulgated or undergo Such incessant changes that no man knows

What the law is today Can guess what it will be tomorrow close Quote So we're now in this circumstance it's Every bit as bad as in fact far worse Than what James Madison could have Contemplated with that because not only Are our laws so voluminous and complex And ever-changing that no sane person in Fact no person of ordinary intelligence At all no person without being able to Devote full-time to reading the code of Federal regulations and the Federal Register which is the annual cumulative Index of all the new regulations as They're released uh uh no person could Keep up with the legal obligations so It's voluminous and complex but it's Even worse than that These laws are not even written by men And women of our own choosing that is Tyranny and that is wrong [Applause] [Music] I'm reminded of this feature uh every Time I look at the stacks of documents Behind my desk that I keep in the Senate One stack is a few inches tall it's Usually a few hundred to a few thousand Pages longer consists of the laws passed By Congress last year The other stack is 13 feet tall In a warm year it will reach it'll Crest The 100 000 page Mark in one year and

That is the Federal Register This document which I keep in my office Is a monument to Satan himself and I Look forward to its Everlasting Destruction On top of all this We've made it very difficult to Challenge those administrative rules It's like they're telling us as we win Tails you lose to the American people Every time deferential standards of Review in the courts uh leave it very Very easy for them to rule your life and Stand without accountability the loose Broad language we give them means that The sky is the limit with them the sheer Volume of delegations of lawmaking power We give them uh give them utter free Reign and it's horrible All of this is as big of a miscarriage Of justice as ever exists so I hope one Day to be able to have a conversation With Prince Harry and tell him if he's Concerned about democracy if he's Concerned uh to better describe our form Of government as uh they Constitutionally Republican form of Government and he should focus on the Vertical protection of federalism and The horizontal protection of separation Of powers Because this kind of unreviewable Legislative discretion Has historically been reserved for

Despots and tyrants like King George III So this is tyranny And we must address it we will Ultimately overcome it because the American people choose the right thing At the end of the day Look the Heritage foundation's mission Its entire reason for existence is Something that that understands the People of the United States are best Served by a government that understands And honors and respects the principle of Self-governments It's been a voice of reason and an Advocate for our shared American values Reminding us of the power of individual Liberty and the importance of limited Government Their dedication to promoting a society Based on these ideals helped shape the Course of our nation and we're all Better off for it so as we move forward The challenges facing our country will Continue to grow we're growing faster Than ever We need the Heritage Foundation now more Than ever and I'm so grateful to Kevin Roberts and his amazing team uh they They do extraordinary work and I salute Them they will continue to be a force For good in coming years and I'm so Proud to stand with them and with you to Support a better Brighter and more prosperous future for

All Americans May almighty God continue To bless the United States of America Thank you [Applause] [Music]

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