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Op-ed Placement

Congress Should Use the REINS Act to Combat the Regulatory State

01/06/2017
Originally Published in The Hill on 1/6/17.

In the Broadway musical-turned-movie, 1776, John Adams ranted to the Second Continental Congress that it had stalled his proposals for independence from King George III and Great Britain. Delegates, even those who wanted a diplomatic solution to rather than war, blasted King George for running roughshod over the rights of colonists, restricting trade, and taxing them without representation in parliament.

Still, Adams, whose colony, Massachusetts, experienced the worst of British aggression, was denied a vote. His firebrand approach to the subject often rubbed his contemporaries the wrong way, which even he acknowledged, later writing in a letter that he was "obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular."

Adams’ style and approach to independence was captured in the musical.

"I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress! And by God, I have had this Congress! For ten years, King George and his Parliament have gulled, cullied, and diddled these colonies with their illegal taxes! Stamp Acts, Townshend Acts, Sugar Acts, Tea Acts! And when we dared stand up like men, they have stopped our trade, seized our ships, blockaded our ports, burned our towns, and spilled our blood! And still, this Congress refuses to grant any of my proposals on independence, even so much as the courtesy of open debate!" Adams, portrayed by future Boy Meets World co-star William Daniels, complained. "Good God, what in hell are you waiting for?"

Adams' perseverance eventually paid off when the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776.

While today's political landscape is much different than it was at the time of the founding, there are some similarities. Today, the presidents have consumed far more power than delegated by Article II of the Constitution. The executive branch has blurred the constitutional separation of powers, claiming its own lawmaking authority through rules, regulations, and executive orders.