Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Partial S.O.S. From Legislative Leviathans

Three years ago, President Barack Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ( Pub. L-11-203).  When it was passed, it was a long  2,319  page piece of legislation.  Although financial legislation can be tricky, Sarbanes-Oxley (2002) was only 66 pages and Gramm-Leach–Bliley (1999) was 145 pages.    This contemporary financial legislation was legislatively loquacious compared to the Federal Reserve Act (1913) that took 31 pages or Glass-Steagall (1933) that was 33 pages.  

But much like Obamacare (the misnamed Affordable Care Act), the bloated Dodd Frank bill delegated bureaucratic the authority to write implementing regulations. Currently, Dodd-Frank is comprised of 13,789 pages of rule-making from ten different regulatory agencies. 

To put this into terms which most people can wrap their minds around, Dodd-Frank is now the equivalent of 28 copies of War and Peace.  And Mel Brooks quipped that no-one makes it through War and Peace.   What can be done to avoid such governing monstrosities again?      

  1. Either abolish or reorganize the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to have an Executive Board rather than a Consumer “Czar” and be financially responsible to the legislative branch rather than being an “independent” branch of government. 
  2. While it might seem kind of quaint, but  to follow the Constitution.  
  3. Congress need to stop rushing legislation.   When he first ran for President in the 2008 cycle, Mr. Obama promised that: “As president, Obama will not sign any nonemergency bill without giving the American public to review and comment on the White House Web site for five days.”  So much for that promise.  Speaker John Boehner repeatedly promised that all bills would be put on line for 72 hours before being voted upon.  This pledge has been repeatedly broken.  These Federal politicians need to live up to their political pledges or be held accountable at the ballot box rather than accepted as the standard practice of the Cocktail Party in the District of Calamity (sic).
  4. Congress should pass legislation that is no longer than 50 pages long.  This is longer than some Tea Party type legislators advocate, but it is readable by the Member and can accommodate for the complexities of contemporary government.
  5.  Congress must Enact legislation to  take control over expensive Executive Branch regulations.  It is understandable that members of Congress are not going to have expertise in complex areas of governmance, like the financial industry and the environement.  But they must not cede authority to smug technocratic bureaucrats who are given wide deference by the judiciary and are not beholden to the ballot box.

Compliance costs with the legislative leviathan is strangling growth in the American economy and is chipping away at household budgets.   The REINS legislation could be enhanced by adding a 5 year sunset provisions to any costly regulation which could be reapproved by Congress.  This would rein in an overzealous Executive Branch in issuing regulations as well as tempering the bureaucratic beast.

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