These are parlous times. The pesthouse known as the U.S. Congress is conducting a lame duck session still controlled by the party that lost decisively in the recent elections. The hapless citizens of this country face weeks of despair before the hope for change takes over. Two proposals before Congress illustrate first the despair, and then the hope.
The first is the innocuously named, little noticed Public Safety Employer-Employee Act, on which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced he will push for a cloture vote. Reid owes his victory in his race against Sharron Angle to Big Labor, which dumped untold millions into his campaign, millions that he used with lethal effect to destroy Angle’s credibility (with her assistance, to be honest). The bill he is pushing is the unions’ return payment.
Under this bill, the federal government would essentially nullify right-to-work laws, making it far easier for police and firefighters not just to unionize but also to get union-shop contracts (which require all employees to join the union, whether they like it or not). Worse, the bill would force all contract disputes into binding arbitration. The arbitrators would of course be under no obligation whatsoever to consider a city’s economic difficulties when rendering decisions. Labor’s pound of flesh would be taken from the hapless citizenry.
One can only hope that the Republicans can block this pernicious piece of crap.
Turning to a more hopey-changey topic, two estimable Republicans, Rep. Geoff Davis (KY) and Sen. Jim DeMint (SC), have introduced a brilliant piece of legislation. This bill has the appropriate name of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (or “REINS”) Act. The REINS Act aims to rein in the regulatory agencies that function as independent, undemocratic, law-making entities, issuing an ever-growing number of regulations that automatically have the force of law.
Under the REINS Act, all new major regulations would have to be approved by a simple majority vote in the House and Senate, before being signed by the president. “Major” regulation is defined by the act as meaning either a regulation that is estimated by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget to have an economic impact of $100 million or more, or a regulation that will cause a major increase in prices or have a significant impact on the economy.
This enactment would significantly change the rules of the game, which are now defined by the 1996 Congressional Review Act, under which any major regulatory ruling becomes law unless Congress passes a joint regulation opposing it and the president signs that resolution.
Considering the huge costs of the regulations churned out by the government’s regulatory agencies, and the burgeoning number of such agencies (with Obamacare creating 183 new entities, and the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill creating hundreds of new regulations, all on its own), the REINS Act is a beautiful thing — supposing that it can pass the next Congress.