RAA: The end of accountability as we know it

Who doesn’t like the concept of accountability?  We instinctively understand that people and organizations should be accountable for their behavior.  Politicians and government should be accountable for their words and actions. 
Accountability is as American as mom and apple pie–except when it is just a phony adjective as in the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) being considered by Congress.
The first warning that the RAA is just a bogus use of the word “accountability” is who is supporting the legislation.  There are well over 30 bills in Congress right now that have the stated purpose of stopping regulations in one fashion or another.  And these bills have something else in common—they all have the same Congressional supporters and these supporters also support the RAA. 
So how does a bill with the word “accountability” in its title really strive to stop regulations and produce less accountability?  And why is that bad for small and mid-size businesses?
The RAA throws over 60 years of procedures for government agencies making deliberate, thorough, publicly crafted regulations out the window.  In exchange it gives the real power to lobbyists for big corporations and the courts to make decisions on carrying out, or more likely not carrying out, the will of our elected officials.
The RAA does this by micro-managing every step of the rulemaking process.   According to a report released this week by the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, Impact of the Regulatory Accountability Act, the RAA adds more than 60 new procedural and analytical requirements.  K-Street lobbyists will have more time and opportunity to practice their special-interest influence.  The RAA, says the report, “would add no fewer than 21 to 39 months to the rulemaking process”, a process that can already take years.  As a result the RAA will dramatically increase the cost to taxpayers for the regulatory process and never produce the results envisioned in the federal laws passed by Congress.
The RAA is also a corporate attorney’s dream.  Every aspect of the RAA is geared toward encouraging special interests to legally challenge every regulation of an agency.  Even frivolous lawsuits are protected under the bill because the RAA defines as “substantial evidence” for a lawsuit to be anything the special interest thinks is “reasonable.”

The 32-page RAA mentions judicial review, litigation, the court and other lawsuit terminology 18 times. The bill even includes a provision guaranteeing “immediate judicial review” for any special interest on every aspect of the prescribed rulemaking process.   If any regulation can survive this legal quagmire, it will deliver nothing that resembles the intent of our elected leaders.

With the federal regulatory process shut down, accountability of big corporations is gone.  These corporations, and especially multinational corporations, will have more freedom to pursue their profitability without regard to the effect on the American public’s health and safety.
Small and mid-size businesses won’t stand a competitive chance against the deep pockets of corporate giants unleashed from regulatory control.  Access to capital will diminish even more and protection from financial predators will decrease.  With no accountability for big corporate American, small and mid-size businesses will suffer.
That’s why the American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance and Small Business Majority are opposing the RAA.  It is an “accountability” fraud on the American public and the real businesses that have made this country great. 
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