Politics

November 5, 2012

Washington Notebook: Regulators raise concerns over impact of Collins' bill

The proposal would require independent agencies to review proposed rules to gauge their impact on businesses.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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.

Joseph Lieberman, Susan Collins
click image to enlarge

Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have gotten pushback over a bill they co-sponsored to change the way some agencies develop rules.

2012 File Photo/The Associated Press

In a letter to Collins, a Republican, 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 be 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 the Portland Press Herald in September. "So I believe the bill we came up with strikes the right balance."

KEN AND MIKE GO TO WASHINGTON

Ken Altshuler and Mike Violette of 560 WGAN's "Morning News with Ken & Mike" broadcasted from Washington, D.C., last week, and they invited me to join them for a bit on Thursday morning.

We talked about Maine politics from the D.C. perspective, including Capitol Hill's interest in Maine's Senate race and in the presidential race within the 2nd District. You can listen to an audio clip of the interview here.

Before heading back to Maine, Ken and Mike broadcasted Friday from a radio booth at The Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative public policy organization and think tank in Washington.

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be reached at 317-6256 or at: kmiller@mainetoday.com

On Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

 

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