On Wednesday, in a 241-to-184 vote, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 10, the "Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny" (REINS) Act, which would require congressional approval from both houses for any major new regulations. Four Democrats slithered across the aisle and voted with the Republicans: John Barrow (GA), Dan Boren (OK), Mike McIntyre (NC), and Collin Peterson (MN).
The claim, unsurprisingly, is that, released from the presumably unbearable burden of regulations, businesses will be able hire more employees. But there is little evidence that regulations hamper the economy.
What we have here is nothing more or less than the Tea Partiers proving to their constituents and, more importantly, to their corporate sugar daddies that they're doing all they can to "rein in" and undermine the executive branch. Never mind that Obama has put forward fewer regulations than W had at this point in his tenure. Never mind that the bill is highly unlikely to be introduced in the Senate. Never mind checks and balances (I swear none of these guys was paying attention in high school civics class).
This is the House's pathetically laughable idea of a jobs bill. While the Tea Partiers kowtow to their corporate backers and cozy up to ideological lunacy, the economy continues to teeter on a precipice. It's immoral and unconscionable for these jackals to play politics and unrelentingly adhere to their crackpot ideology while unemployment levels are so high.
From an editorial in Sunday's New York Times:
Reins is a terrible piece of legislation that would undermine a functioning regulatory system that protects people from harm. ... In a nutshell, the bill would stop any major regulation issued by a federal agency and costing more than $100 million from taking effect unless it received approval from both houses of Congress and the president. Many such rules are issued every year involving everything from food safety to efficiency standards for cars. Disapproval from one house would be enough to kill a rule and force the agency to start all over again. A rule would also die if one house failed to act within 70 days.
The bill is the fullest flowering of the Republicans’ antiregulatory philosophy. Beyond that, it would upend the traditional relationship between the legislative and executive branches. Under long-standing practice, Congress enacts laws—the Clean Air Act, for instance—and then empowers the executive branch to negotiate with stakeholders and write detailed regulations.
Congress delegates this responsibility because it has neither the time nor the expertise to develop the rules or the machinery and manpower to enforce them. Reins would radically re-position Congress to make final decisions that involve detailed technical matters.
Remember, the House of Representatives is currently a body that can't negotiate its way out of a paper bag. Would we really want them in charge of the minutiae of regulation? And would we want our regulations subject to the enormous lobbying influences that currently reign (pun intended) in Congress? Of course, not. The idea is beyond absurd.
Rabid-right ideologues believe that the private sector is infinitely better than any public sector body. Given how dysfunctional this Congress is, I can almost see their point. But even as toxic as Congress has been lately, corporations and their influence peddling have been far more so. The assertion that businesses and corporations will self-regulate is patently ludicrous.
What should not be lost on the American people is that issues of health and safety and the common good should never be left up to people whose only concern is the bottom line. Because then, of course, human costs will never be counted when they're tallying up the cost/benefit analysis.
Yesterday's Huffington Post quotes Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX): "Who do the regulators answer to? No one." Ah yes, but whom does Congress answer to? Not the American people, clearly. No, members of Congress answer to big money, for whom environmental, health, and safety laws are nothing more than meddlesome interference. Profit über alles.
Rep. Poe continued: "When the regulators go to work everyday, like most people go to work, their work assignment's a little different. In my opinion, they sit around a big oak table, sipping their lattes. They have out their iPads and their computers, and they decide, 'Who shall we regulate today?' And they write a regulation and send it out to the masses and make us deal with the cost to that."
Rep. Poe is full of crap. Whose well-being does he have in mind when he complains about big oak tables (as if he never sat at one), iPads and computers (who doesn't use one?), and lattes (that's really hitting below the belt). As if the process of writing and passing regulations were altogether arbitrary, as if pure profit motive could ensure the well-being of the environment and Americans' health and safety. Republicans in Congress think protection of the environment, health, and safety should be left up to CEOs and their lobbyists. And this is their idea of a jobs bill.