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THE REGULATORY IRRESPONSIBILITY ACT

January 21, 2015

THE REGULATORY IRRESPONSIBILITY ACT

My followers are well aware of the framing involved in naming congressional acts, such as the “No Child Left Behind Act,” whose effect was to leave all children behind in a sea of testing with grading of teachers who best “taught to the test.” Frequently such acts are named to cover the real intent of the body of the legislation involved which may be the exact opposite of what the pious title of the bill pretends to be the case. Just recently the Republican House passed a good-sounding bill of this sort, and named it the “Regulatory Responsibility Act.” Like the deliberately misnamed “No Child Left Behind Act,” this bill is a vicious example of right wing extremism which caught my attention and prompted me to rename the bill per the above title. The bill is payoff to Wall Street banks and corporations who want to end regulatory controls of their sometimes criminal activities and reduce their lobbying costs, costs that have already exceeded over one billion dollars in Dodd-Frank lobbying costs to Wall Street banks alone. Let’s take a look at what is really in this bill other than its phony title designed to mislead the unwary.

The bill just passed (per Ed Kilgore, Managing Editor of The Democratic Strategist) “dramatically restricts the government’s ability to enact any significant new regulations or safety standards, potentially hamstringing the efforts of every federal agency, the entire spectrum of public health and safety, worker health and safety, financial protections and consumer product protections.” Rather than employ lobbyists to frustrate implementation of a single piece of legislation (like Dodd-Frank), Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Money and others similarly situated under the terms of this omnibus act would be the beneficiaries of protection from all of those “burdensome rules and regulations” in one fell swoop.

This bill doesn’t single out any particular activity for regulatory reduction; it rather goes for the jugular in that it purports to restrict government’s ability to even make new rules and regulations in re banking, public health etc. Thus such independent regulators as the SEC and executive agencies such as the EPA could find their ability to respond to even emergency situations (e.g., eboli pandemics, drought, hurricanes etc.) hampered if not cut off at the knees. If one did not know that this piece of Republican legislation was passed in the House of Representatives in the Congress of the United States, one would suspect that it was sponsored by North Koreans because it has all of the earmarks of extremism designed to sabotage the government’s ability to govern and shows no concern for the governed – us.

The late historian Douglas Pike described in one of his many books how the communist Viet Cong helped North Viet Nam win the war, how the Viet Cong infiltrated and made it impossible for the south Vietnamese government to function effectively. If, Pike writes, they could reduce the South Vietnamese society to chaos, they reasoned, the well-organized Communist party could easily take over, and after chasing American troops out of their country, that is precisely what happened. They were right.

Another author, James Vega, draws an analogy of the Viet Cong plan with that of the Republican Party. He writes that like the chaos the Viet Cong brought to destroy existing government, the Republican Party for the past 20 years or so has significantly weakened government at all levels and “has a good chance of eliminating the remaining vestiges of the New Deal and the Progressive Era.” He writes that “Since winning the House of Representatives and taking away the Democrats’ 60-vote majority in the Senate in 2010, Republicans have made it impossible for large parts of the federal government to function.” He further notes that “The genius of the republican strategy is that it validates itself. Crippling government tends to prove that government does not work, and allows Republicans to argue that the nation would do better with even less government.”

Republicans who voted for this grotesquely misnamed bill are outraged that anyone would compare their strategy with that of communists’ movements of insurrection and deliberate sabotage of government, and per Vega, Democrats agree. It is indeed outrageous and the moment the GOP ceases to engage in such behavior Democrats will with great pleasure cease to draw such comparisons.

We are seeing the counterparts of bills like this monstrosity played out in individual sectors that make up our country. First, you trash the existing order so as to soften it up for conquest. Thus public education is all bad, children and parents aren’t getting their money’s worth, the curriculum is terrible, school teachers are overpaid and under-trained etc, and we need change – and who will lead this phony groundswell for change? Why, the same people who trashed public education and who will profit from its demise, the charter schools, the private schools, corporate for-profit schools and their promoters such as Jeb Bush and other prominent Republicans all intent on corporatizing education.

We see the same thing with Republican efforts to destroy government, i.e., the government is all bad, it doesn’t work, it ruins private enterprise with its needless rules and regulations, stifles competition, and it just can’t do anything right; so Republicans must corral the beast and save the country from ruin. It’s the old private enterprise-government argument all over again, and I invite the contrasts. How many bankruptcies has Donald Trump undergone with his various enterprises? Why were all the Wall Street banks save one insolvent leading to Bush’s Great Recession? Why was it that it was the “government” that saved such banks from bankruptcy via bailouts and purchase of sub-par paper at par and led us, bruised and battered, to a recovery of sorts from a deep recession caused by banking and corporate crapshooters and other excesses, some criminal in nature?

A better question might be to ask why private enterprise can’t do anything right, especially while it basks in corporate welfare and tax loopholes galore, giveaways denied to you and me in our role as the provider of such largesse to our corporate masters. This bill is built on propaganda and greed and if it passes the Senate, I will be agitating for its veto. We have a short memory; the Great Recession should have taught us that we need more rather than less regulation of the crapshooters we are backstopping.

We need not make the saboteurs’ efforts legal by depriving government of its inherent right to govern for the sake of enrichment of the few. I think that but for legislative cover and certain immunities given to legislators this bill is an exercise in sedition, a federal crime, but don’t hold your breath waiting for indictments to issue.   GERALD  E

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