Rachel Maddow is freaking out over the current Republican agenda pushed by former president Donald Trump to overhaul the executive branch and return all powers of the executive branch to its elected head – the president – instead of having reserved domains of power embedded in the bureaucracy.
Maddow unleashed a 4-minute and 19-second tirade about how this would “radically change the form of governance” to a strongman-style government and would do so by concentrating “all the power of the government into the hands of a single leader.” She proceeded to list a number of organizations like The Heritage Foundation and Project 2025 that were behind this alleged cabal to establish dictatorial rule in the United States.
The Heritage Foundation responded to the MSNBC host’s rant by stating “NYT & MSNBC are really worried about [Project 2025]…What would they do without unelected bureaucrats to carry out leftist agendas & give state-adjacent media like them their talking points? Conservatives will win, destroy the administrative state, & restore our federal government.”
NYT & MSNBC are really worried about @Prjct2025👀 What would they do without unelected bureaucrats to carry out leftist agendas & give state-adjacent media like them their talking points?
Conservatives will win, destroy the administrative state, & restore our federal government. pic.twitter.com/aq9Q54bJCY
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) July 18, 2023
Nor have the detractors against Trump’s plan been squarely those of Maddow alone as pointed out by the Project 2025 Twitter page.
“Frightening.” -Joe Scarborough
“They’re calling it Project 2025, because this is a plan that’s supposed to go into effect upon the inauguration.” -Rachel Maddow
“A terrifying concept.” -Joy Reid
Be part of the plan that’s terrifying the Left!
— Project 2025 (@Prjct2025) July 18, 2023
In effect the issue is not taking away the checks and balances in the Constitution but removing the unconstitutional 4th branch of government – the unaccountable bureaucracy – from the executive by giving the president ultimate authority to do what he wills with the bureaucracy that formally exists under his branch. This is an express compliance with Article 2 of the Constitution which states that “[t]he executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” This effectively means that the executive branch serves at the pleasure of the president and has no independent authority of its own.
The agenda that Maddow cited would therefore be a restorationist one, one that seeks to restore proper constitutional governance over the system we currently have. The MSNBC host decried that under the plan, Trump vowed to fully restore the presidential authority to impound funds (i.e. refuse to spend funds) authorized by Congress (in order to go after a bloated bureaucracy.) She falsely says doing so would be illegal.
The current mechanism for a president to impound funds is regulated by the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 which “allows the President to impound funds when he transmits a “special message” in accordance with” the act. Hence to do so now is legal so long as the Act is followed. Furthermore, while Trump disagrees with the Act, he vowed to challenge it in court and through Congress and not in a unilateral way. In effect, the restoration of full presidential impoundment authority would be done in a lawful and constitutional way.
While Maddow makes it appear that such power would violate the essence of constitutional rule and is unprecedented, this is not the case. The earliest case of presidential impoundment was Thomas Jefferson delaying the spending of money allocated to the navy in 1803. Presidents thereafter – until after Nixon – have used the power to delay or withhold spending.