We’ve called it a Kansas City Shuffle, and we’ve called it Congressional Three Card Monte. Whatever you call it, congress has seemed to find a new efficiency. Donald Trump is providing the perfect cover for a GOP congress to do as much as they possibly can to create the Ayn Randian dystopia they’ve always dreamed of. While Donald Trump tweets lies and befouls monuments to fallen CIA agents with speeches about how great he is, congress is moving quickly.
The House of Representatives just passed a bill that very few people have even heard about. It’s called the REINS Act. The language in the bill essentially kills any power that regulatory agencies like the FCC, FDA, EPA, and others have to regulate their industries. It says, in short, that any new “major” regulation that is to be put into place, must pass through congress within seventy days to take effect. If there’s anything we’ve seen over the last eight years, it is that the republicans in congress can obstruct with the best of them. The Do Nothing Congress would blush at the last eight years.
If you are looking to find a group of people who will craft regulation able to protect both the country’s economy and the public at large, you would do well to consult experts. If you want to know how to safeguard the economy from another Wall Street meltdown, finding someone who is highly educated in finance and economics is likely to be the best person to seek. If you want to balance our need for medical advancement with safety against drugs that have not been properly tested, a doctor is probably the best person to do it. The same can be said for telecommunications and every other area in which we have a federal regulator in place. Congress is filled with 538 people, it is unlikely that any of them possess the expertise to make educated decisions in all areas that this bill would have them oversee.
Not only will there be the potential to obstruct any kind of meaningful regulation, but the people who will make regulatory decisions will likely lack expertise to make those calls.
The conversation around regulations in this country has devolved into a reductive all or nothing prospect. Regulations are as varied as anything possibly can be. Some of them are overweight and strain the industry they effect. Others have a low cost of compliance and provide vital protection for the environment and health of the public.
The GOP congress that has almost unchecked power is running a no huddle offense. Trump is providing the perfect smoke screen. It’s all misdirection. They are doing whatever they want and the public isn’t even noticing as we indulge in our oh so predictable addiction to outrage.