Stimulus, response: Bill limiting executive regulatory authority prompts immediate White House veto threat
posted at 8:01 pm on July 31, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
Over the decades, the federal regulatory state has grown while legislative control over those regulatory policies has declined, and back in 2010, the GOP came up with the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act as part of their red-tape reining Pledge to America. The REINS Act would make major regulations (defined as those with a calculated price tag of $100 million or more) contingent upon Congressional approval, and it’s been introduced in each of the past three Congresses but obviously never stood a chance in the Senate. The House is poised to vote once again on the bill on Friday, and the Obama White House would of course never allow for any such check on the executive authority through which they implement their economically disastrous and job-crushing policies. Dream on, suckers:
The White House threatened Wednesday to veto legislation requiring congressional approval of the most expensive regulations issued by federal agencies, saying the measure would undermine basic government functions.
The House is expected to vote as soon as Friday to approve the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require both chambers of Congress to sign off on regulations carrying an annual price tag of $100 million or more.
In a formal critique of the bill, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said the bill, if passed, would reflect an unprecedented and unjustified power shift in Washington.
“This radical departure from the longstanding separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches would delay and, in many cases, thwart implementation of statutory mandates and execution of duly-enacted laws,” the OMB policy statement says.
Now, obviously, regulatory framework is one of the executive powers any administration largely uses to implement their policies, although I’m sure President Obama’s oh-so-loquacious rejoinder would run somewhere more along the lines of how nothing would ever get done if those spitefully obstructionist Republicans managed to gain yet another political weapon with the capability to sink their hyper-partisan claws into his rule-making powers. And, to play devil’s advocate for a moment: For one thing, it sounds like it might not be terribly effective; for instance, what’s to stop the administration from finding excuses to merely break things up into separate, less expensive mini-regulations (although, admittedly, that would probably be better for transparency’s sake)? For another, although I certainly can’t get behind all of them, the 43rd did issue a (much lesser) number of these major rules himself. While I would hope that no future Republican president would be in the habit of imposing hugely costly regulations on the regular, I can fathom a situation in which the tables might be turned.
The REINS Act’s opponents have argued that the whole idea could be unconstitutional, and it would definitely be a change-up from the traditional way of doing things… but for goodness’ sake, maybe we’re at the point where it’s warranted? For example, let’s leave aside for a moment the obvious billions and billions in economic opportunity costs the Obama administration has imposed via ObamaCare and the Environmental Protection Agency in his first term alone, and take a moment to look at the many onerous and arbitrary financial regulations being handed down through the auspices of the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” (or, as I like to call it, the “Let’s Pretend That an Intrusively Huge Government and the Perverse Incentives It Created Played Absolutely No Role in the Financial Crisis and Instead Pretend We Are the Great Tamers of Those Greedy Financial Titans While We Issue Arbitrary and Capricious Rules that Benefit Our Own Brand of Crony Capitalism” Act. Long, but appropriate.).
The big Obama-nominee confirmation showdown from which the Senate recently emerged wasn’t so much about Republicans’ opposition to Richard Cordray personally, but rather to the entire newly-created office to which he was being appointed. The head of the Consumer Financial “Protection” Bureau has unprecedented and unilateral power over the financial sector, as the American Enterprise Institute explains in an excellent piece upon the occasion of the CFPB’s second birthday. This opaque and uncertainty-inducing behemoth is hugely damaging to our economic growth, and the Obama administration pretty much awarded itself the blanket authority to do whatever they want on the financial regulation front. At this stage in the game, perhaps it’s time to shift things back toward the checks-and-balances ideal a little?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has now reached its second birthday. At two years old, it has clearly become just what many of us expected: an ambitious and ballooning bureaucracy, able to operate outside the normal checks and balances of our democratic government.
The opponents and proponents of the CFPB entirely agree on one thing: it was explicitly designed by its creators to evade the normal constraints of the American constitutional structure. Two years have taught us that the design has been remarkably successful in doing so. …
The CFPB is an offspring of the notorious Dodd-Frank Act, of which the best description is the “Faith in Bureaucracy Act.” For those sharing this faith, the CFPB’s design is a wonderful thing. It is a modern implementation of Woodrow Wilson’s dream of bureaucratic “experts,” who should not have to be bothered with irrelevant distractions like the elected representatives of the people.