Yesterday I posted a lengthy list of crimes against conservatism by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who is rumored to top Mitt Romney's short list of VP candidates. At the bottom of the diary was a link to the brief summary of an ominous-sounding bill introduced by Portman on Friday. The text of the bill is finally up at the Library of Congress website and it's bad. On the same day Portman said this:
“Unfortunately, however, I could not support today’s transportation bill because at a time of record debt and deficits, it breaks the budget agreement Congress established just last year. American families are making the tough decisions necessary to live within their means during this time of soaring spending and record debt, and Congress must do the same. We must lead by example and stop spending money we do not have...."
...Portman had no qualms about putting a bill in the hopper that promises to saddle our country with another massive federal bureaucracy: The Global Conservation Act of 2012.
In General- Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President, acting through the Interagency Working Group on Global Conservation designated pursuant to section 202(a), shall establish and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a comprehensive strategy (hereafter referred to as the `International Conservation Strategy') to strengthen the capacity of the United States to collaborate with other countries, international organizations, the private sector, and private voluntary organizations on a sustained international effort to conserve natural resources and enhance biodiversity in a manner beneficial to the economic well-being and security of the United States and other participating countries.
And its goals?
(1) advancing conservation in the world's most ecologically and economically important terrestrial and marine ecosystems;
(2) protecting distinct hotspot regions that provide a high level of economic benefit to human communities as well as a high concentration of genetic and other natural resources;
(3) helping developing countries address illegal, unreported, and unregulated industrial fishing where economies are negatively impacted by depleted fish stocks;
(4) safeguarding natural areas that provide fresh water to developing countries;
(5) protecting forests and advancing enforcement efforts against illegal logging in centers of the illegal logging trade;
(6) advancing enforcement efforts against poaching and unlawful wildlife trafficking operations;
(7) facilitating and leveraging the economic and conservation benefits that derive from properly managed international hunting, angling, and wildlife observation tourism;
(8) stabilizing or reversing renewable natural resource scarcity and degradation trends in regions that are vulnerable to conflict, instability, or mass migration from natural resource depletion;
(9) expanding substantially the amount of economically and ecologically significant forest in developing countries; and
(10) reducing the rate of erosion and desertification in developing countries where soil loss is resulting in severe impacts to the economy, food security, or stability.
You may recognize that many of these goals closely parallel those of the UN's Agenda 21, which would drag the our country into a massive network of global environmental regulations.
Why Sen. Portman would choose to focus on these goals at a time that our economy is grinding to a screeching halt under the weight of a crushing debt is simply baffling. Perhaps he's strategically thinking that as the VP candidate, he could reach out to the liberals. Perhaps he really believes in the UN and all this environmental justice nonsense. Whatever his reasons, this legislation completely contradicts what he wrote in a July 4th editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
"To get the economy back on track, we can't continue with the status quo. Bigger government, more regulations, higher taxes, record federal spending and massive borrowing haven't worked. Nor has anti-business rhetoric or class warfare. We need to put in place policies we know will actually help grow jobs in America."
But that's exactly what the Global Conservation Act of 2012 is: bigger government and more regulations that will likely lead to higher taxes on businesses and more federal spending and borrowing. Hardly a pro-growth agenda for Ohio and the rest of the country.
Portman is often suggested as a VP candidate because of his expertise in public policy and budgetary matters. The New York Times says, "[H]e is among a select breed of politicians who have a keen and deep understanding of the inner workings of government." I'd like to suggest that he's actually one of the few people in D.C. with a deep understanding of the Statist Administrative State. Portman is a Statist and this legislation is Exhibit A.
It's worth noting that this is not Portman's first foray into environmental statism. He authored theTropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998 saying that, “Conservation should also be encouraged, including supporting ongoing efforts to restore and protect natural habitats across the globe. Deforestation is considered the second-largest source of CO2 emissions behind coal-fired electric plants.” He also voted Yes on implementing the Kyoto Protocol in 2000.
Paul Rahe, writing at Ricochet, aptly describes the perversion of the separation of powers that results from the Administrative State:
"The administrative state is based upon a concentration of all three powers – which Montesquieu thought incompatible with liberty – within a single executive agency. In a fashion that constitutes an abrogation of the Constitution, Congress sets up administrative agencies, empowers them to issue regulations having the force of law, to enforce these regulations, and to judge infractions. What this means is that most of what is done by our government takes place in camera behind closed doors – out of sight and out of mind.
"Congressmen and Senators love this. It means that no one is accountable for unpopular measures, and it means that they are not held responsible. When I suggest that the administrative state be eliminated, I mean that we should return to constitutional government and the separation of powers – that, before taking effect, every regulation proposed by an administrative agency be discussed in the House and the Senate, be voted on and passed by each of the two legislative branches, and be signed by the President. Then, the government would be visible: we would know who is responsible; we could hold them accountable; and, if need be, we could replace malefactors with honest women and men."
Not only do we need to vigorously oppose all legislation that attempts to build the Administrative State (and somehow, painstakingly dismantle the monstrosity that is currently in place), but we must seriously call into question Mitt Romney's plans for this country if he chooses a Vice Presidential candidate—any candidate—who favors this unconstitutional "fourth branch" of government. We cannot begin to dig out of the hole we're in with men and women who can't even see the problem in front of them.