Joe Lieberman’s Parting Shot

Other than voting for Obamacare, Joe Lieberman has done little good for the nation or the Senate since his petulant run as an Independent six years ago after Connecticut Democrats booted him out of the party.

Now that he is heading out the Senate door – finally – Lieberman is firing a parting “F— You!” shot at the country. In a little-noticed piece of legislation he is trying to move through his Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs a bill that would effectively strip independent regulatory agencies of their power to effectively regulate just about anything.

Without holding a single hearing, Lieberman’s committee wants to pass the “Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act of 2012” which strips the independence of a raft of federal agencies: Everything from the Securities and Exchange Commission to the Nuclear Regulatory Agency and National Labor Relations Board.

Among its many provisions, the law would require each of the agencies that Congress quite deliberately established as independent to submit all proposed rules to The White House for “vetting” before they could be published. According to a report buried on a back page of Tuesday’s New York Times,, the bill would “introduce delays to an already slow process, and would give banks and businesses yet another place to lobby for favorable treatment.”

The Times also notes correctly that bad reviews from The White House would enable industry groups to mount legal challenges to rules that are eventually put in place.

Lieberman’s bill to defang regulatory agencies has bi-partisan support in the committee – perhaps not entirely surprising given that its Republican members include Tom Coburn, outgoing Senator Scott Brown, John McCain and Rand Paul. But Carl Levin also is a member as is Hawaii’s Daniel Akaka yet they are supporting the measure, as well.

Moreover, Lieberman has refused to hold a public hearing on the measure despite requests from six of the primary financial regulators. Each wrote a letter to Lieberman asking to be heard on the issue. Dozens of consumer and legal advocacy groups have voiced their opposition.

And yet, there is no sign of a public hearing in the works. Even worse, it appears that Lieberman’s plan is to quickly ready the bill to be included in must-pass legislation that will come up in a lame-duck session intended to deal with things such as a phony panic over the “fiscal cliff.”

 

It may be too late to stop the Lieberman train as it pulls out of the station but it won’t hurt to write to Senators urging an end to this bit of anti-regulatory chaos.

Author and journalist Charley James’ next book is about his experience becoming homeless. When published, Charley will donate a percentage of his advance and royalties to homeless organizations.

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