Stop needed regulations now, big problems tomorrow

The efforts in Congress to eviscerate regulations that protect small businesses and consumers continue.  The letter below from the American Sustainable Business Council oulines the danger of S.3468.  This bill may soon go through a markup so if you want to weigh in, do so now.

American Sustainable Business Council

August 28, 2012

Dear Members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee:

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) opposes The Independent Regulatory Analysis Act, S. 3468. ASBC believes the proposed Act will further put at risk consumers and businesses; particularly small businesses, who benefit from the work of independent agencies charged with ensuring product safety, financial transparency and market competition.

The need for S.3468 is also called into question by ASBC polling of small business owners that shows weak customer demand is their top concern.  Very few small business owners cite regulations as a top problem or an impediment to hiring.  Regulations are also not seen as a problem for larger businesses.  GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently observed on the campaign trail in Minnesota that “big business is doing fine” and “they can deal with all the regulation.” 

With regulations not seen as an important hindrance to our economy’s growth, the negative consequences of S.3468 far exceed any possible positive impact.

The proposed Act would strip a number of federal agencies of much of their independence, requiring them to spend already limited resources completing detailed cost-benefit (C/B) analyses – even when Congress has not required this. In addition, these agencies already have sufficient procedures in place that carefully consider the economic implications of their actions. ASBC believes that while cost-benefit analyses are important, other factors including the environmental and public safety impact of a regulation must also be carefully considered.

Unlike executive agencies, independent agencies are accountable to Congress and not under the control of the President. Where executive agency heads serve at the pleasure of the President, independent agency heads have a defined tenure that is independent of the election cycle. Congress frequently chooses to establish independent agencies when, in its judgment, the policy area affected needs to be insulated from the political pressures associated with being part of the executive branch. Intended or not, SB 3468 would override Congress’ direction to each agency and instead require a preeminent focus on economic impact. This is simply bad policy.

Agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board are accountable to Congress not to the President.  That’s a good thing. ASBC believes this ensures a smart balance of power between the legislative and executive branch. In many cases, independent regulatory agencies’ independence has allowed them to respond nimbly to emerging crises. For example, on Aug. 15, 2012, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 4 million Bumbo Baby Seats in response to evidence that babies had been injured while sitting in them.
The Independent Regulatory Analysis Act would politicize independent regulatory agencies and make it harder for them to protect Americans.

As Senator Collins noted on May 12, 2009*, “… the whole reason that Congress creates independent regulatory agencies is to insulate them from administration policies, whether it’s a Democratic or Republican administration. Congress has deemed that this particular area needs to be protected from the changing agendas of different administrations.

For all these reasons, the American Sustainable Business Council opposes SB 3468.


Richard EidlinPolicy Director

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