Friday, November 16, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #82 - Part 3

Outrage of the Week: anti-independence day

Next week, I intend to talk some about the so-called Grand Bargain being prepared by our overlords in the federal government. This week, however, I want to point to something else that our great deliberative bodies in DC are intending to bring up in the lame duck session. It's a measure called the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act.

It's now in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, now chaired by the outgoing - happily - Sen. Joe Liarman. The intention is to pass it out of committee and fast-track it. Fast tracking is a process that limits options for amendments for the specific purpose of getting the bill passed as quickly as possible. In this case they want it passed before the new Congress convenes in January.

According to Americans for Financial Reform, this bill would strip the independence from various federal regulatory agencies, including but not limited to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the FCC, and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Many government agencies now have to do (or just do on their own) a cost-benefit analysis of any new regulation, an analysis that's subject to sometimes lengthy court challenges by affected industries wanting to avoid regulation. This bill would add at least thirteen new resource-intensive analyses of regulatory costs before a rule can be finalized. Agencies would have to submit those analyses as well as their rules and regulations to the executive branch for review.

In particular, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or the OIRA, would get to review both draft and final versions of any significant new rule, guidance, or policy, a procedure that would add six months or more of delay to the process. What's more, the OIRA has a long standing reputation of being hostile to environmental and safety regulations and being sympathetic to industry arguments that regulation - essentially any regulation - is too costly. This alone could create a bottleneck for all environmental, worker safety, consumer protection, or financial regulation.

The bottom line here is that the whole point of establishing independent regulatory agencies is to insulate the work of those agencies from political influence and direction from whoever is in the White House at the time. Back in 2009, Sen. Susan Collins said that, quoting,
If you bring these independent agencies within the regulatory purview of OIRA, you defeat the whole purpose of having them be independent agencies.
Yet that is exactly what this bill proposes to do. To add insult to injury, Susan Collins is one of the sponsors of this bill!

The capture of our regulatory agencies by those they are supposed to regulate is notorious - but this would make things orders of magnitude worse.

People are being asked to contact the local offices of the members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, local offices because supposedly those calls get more attention. Among the members of that committee is our own outgoing Senator, Scat Brown. When you call, you might like to remind him that if he is thinking about a return to public office - and I bet he is - he might want to give a lot of thought to the kind of legacy he establishes as he goes out the door. So he should vote against this bill both in committee and on the floor - because it is an outrage.


No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');