Friday November 02, 2012 | 11:54 AM

WASHINGTON -- The top officials at six powerful regulatory bodies – including the chairman of the Federal Reserve – are expressing strong concerns about a bill sponsored by Maine. Sen. Susan Collins that would change the way their agencies develop rules.

In a letter to Collins and bill co-sponsor Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., the regulators said the changes could interfere with their ability to develop critical rules and would give the White House too much sway over agencies that are intended to independent.

The bill would require independent agencies to conduct detailed cost-benefit analyses and other reviews of proposed rules to gauge their impact on businesses or the regulated community. Other agencies are already required to conduct such reviews for the White House.

The letter was signed by Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve; Mary Schapiro, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Thomas Curry, comptroller of the currency; Martin Gruenberg, acting chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Debbie Matz, chairman of the National Credit Union Administration.

"This would give any president unprecedented authority to influence the policy and rulemaking functions of independent regulatory agencies and would constitute a fundamental change in the role of independent regulatory agencies,” they wrote

Those points echo concerns raised by other opponents who fear wealthy financial interests could use the changes to stymie or halt important reforms.

Collins and supporters describe the changes as a common-sense way to reduce red tape.

“I would not support a bill that would allow [the White House] to block the rules of independent regulatory agencies,” Collin told Portland Press Herald in September. “So I believe the bill we came up with strikes the right balance.”


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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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