Chevron Deference

I wrote a bit on this last January (here) when I first heard the Chevron Deference was up for consideration by the Supreme Court. (Kiplinger’s follow-up article here.) Now there seems to be a huge uproar over this or to paraphrase the words of Charlie Daniels: They’re all out there steppin’ an’ fetchin’, like their heads are on fire and their asses are catchin’… (from Uneasy Rider)

Saying that we’ve always done it this way, fails to recognize that the Chevron Deference is a product of the 80’s, not something springing from the Constitution. It was a case where the courts gave up their constitutional power to interpret laws, ceding it to the administrative agencies. This has been abused by the agencies and aided by lazy lawmakers, who intentionally or unintentionally write ambiguous legislation.

Unfortunately, the agencies are abusing their power over their clients, the citizens of the United States, while also ignoring their bosses, the Senators and Representatives that write the laws. (Check out this video of Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin, schooling Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, on the way that agency is disregarding very specific language in a Law he wrote and helped pass.) Unambiguous language in legislation is rare, but even when it’s in place, it requires legislators to be enforcers, as with the above video or citizens to risk their livelihoods taking them to court. The Chevron Deference had been used to give the advantage in these situations to the agencies as the de facto experts.

I seriously feel that the various bureaucratic agencies are being allowed to run the show. Even granting them the benefit of the doubt on knowing a lot about the things they oversee, bureaucracies tend to be invasive. They try and make themselves seem more valuable by growing and inserting themselves into more things. This is true with private bureaucracies and seemingly more so with public bureaucracies. When President Biden said we’re going to add 80,000 more IRS agents, I never heard the IRS say, they could get by with 50,000 or even lets start with 30,000 and see how it goes… No, they gladly accepted the growth, the larger budget and the increase power that came with this.

IRS: You owe us money. It’s called taxes. Me: How much do I owe? IRS: You have to figure that out. Me: I just pay what I want? IRS: Oh, no! We know exactly how much you owe. But you have to guess that number too. Me: What if I get it wrong? IRS: You go to prison. ME: [rifling through papers] Ok this is all kind of confusing, but I think this is how much I owe. IRS: Yikes, looks like you missed a number somewhere. I guess you’re going to prison. ME: [being handcuffed] Can’t argue with justice!Jordan Stratton

As I mentioned on the previous post here, the agencies’ positions and enforcement can swing wildly based on whichever party is in office. Taking the political positions out, at least as much as possible, by putting it back in the hands of the judiciary, seem prudent. Acknowledging their expertise in these things, it would make more sense to bring them in when the law is being crafted rather than waiting until it’s in place and subject to their, sometimes bias, interpretation.

The striking down of the Chevron Deference seems to make perfect sense to me, but only time will tell. While in place, it was interpreted broadly, which caused the problems leading to the Supreme Court’s review. Doing away with it may create a new set of unintended consequences, but with government in general, less is better…

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