At RealClearPolitics Frank Miele complains that Congress’s powers have been stretched beyond anything actually found in the Constitution:
the Constitution does not make clear anything about oversight responsibility. The theory of oversight responsibility in entirely the creation of the judicial branch and is not found anywhere within the four corners of the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution spells out the affirmative powers of Congress, mostly in rather restrictive, finite terms. Congress can borrow money. Congress can establish Post Offices. Congress can punish piracy. Congress can declare war. That sort of stuff. Nothing remotely close to oversight.
That’s because oversight is a so-called “implied” power — not to be confused with an “imaginary” power. It derives, we are told, from the “necessary and proper” clause included at the end of Article I, Section 8. That is also called the “elastic clause” because it has been stretched every which way to expand the power of Congress beyond recognition. Here is the full foundation on which the “oversight powers” of Congress rests:
“To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”
Search as you will through the “foregoing powers,” however, you will not find any reference to anything remotely like oversight of the executive branch. As a matter of fact, there is absolutely no reference to the executive branch or the president in any of the preceding 17 clauses. Therefore, it cannot be “necessary and proper” for Congress to exercise oversight, nor ultimately does the power “to make all laws” needed to enforce congressional authority have any relevance to the desire of Congress to investigate the president’s private life and business.
and that’s true. Congress’s powers have been stretched beyond anything recognizable. So have presidential powers. The power to declare war does not belong to the president but to the Congress. Additionally, most federal “laws” aren’t laws at all but regulations decided on by executive branch departments. Congress has, unconstitutionally some might say, delegated those powers to the executive branch.
The judicial branch, too, has arrogated powers to itself that the Constitution does not bestow on it. Examples of that include reviews of state laws to determine Constitutionality and extending the Court’s power to areas beyond the federal government’s enumerated powers, areas which have been controversial since the Court rendered its decisions.
Where is all of this power coming from? The answer, uncomfortable as it may be, is that centralized power comes at the expense of state power and individual freedoms. Basically, it’s at our expense.