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Veronique de Rugy: Taming the Tyranny of the Agency

These members of the ‘government within the government,’ as The New York Times‘ John Tierney describes them, produce one freedom-restricting, economy-hindering rule after another without much oversight.

Veronique de Rugy writes: The tyranny of the administrative state is real and hard to tame. Americans would be horrified if they knew how much power thousands of unelected bureaucrats employed by federal agencies wield. These members of the “government within the government,” as The New York Times‘ John Tierney describes them, produce one freedom-restricting, economy-hindering rule after another without much oversight. These rules take many forms, and few even realize they’re in the making — until, that is, they hit you square in the face.

Take the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule that effectively banned car dealers from giving auto loan discounts to customers on the claim that they might lead to racial discrimination (a dubious conclusion reached using flawed statistical models). Dodd-Frank, the legislation that created the CFPB, prohibited it from regulating auto dealers — so the CFPB quietly put out a “guidance” document to circumvent due process and congressional oversight.

[Read the full story here, at Creators Syndicate]

Thankfully, this time around, someone noticed. In recent weeks, the Senate passed a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act — a streamlined procedure for Congress to repeal regulations issued by various federal government agencies. The House is expected to follow suit soon and send the bill to the president’s desk, if it hasn’t already by the time you read this. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Operation Choke Point Was Meant to Stop Fraud. So Why is the Program Going After Legitimate Business?

The Government’s Secret War on Small Business

Banks are sending notices of account closure out to small businesses across the country, to clients they’ve done business with for years, even decades. The reason? They often don’t provide one.

But a growing number of business owners believe they know why they’re being cut off from the financial system. It’s Operation Choke Point, ostensibly an attempt to crack down on fraudulent businesses, but in reality a dragnet that has ensnared innocent entrepreneurs unfairly classified as “high-risk” players.

social-justice

Earlier this year, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) chairman Martin Gruenberg told Congress that Choke Point was over, but many business owners believe the FDIC and the Department of Justice have passed enforcement duties along to a newly created independent agency: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the brainchild of progressive senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The CFPB operates under the guidance of the Federal Reserve and doesn’t rely on Congress for funding, which critics say allows it to operate without any meaningful checks on its power.

[Read the full story here, at Reason]

Reason TV profiled two business owners who believe they’ve been targets of Choke Point and its legacy: a payday lender in Southern California and a hookah seller in North Carolina. Brian Wise of the U.S. Consumer Coalition, an organization that’s been compiling Choke Point stories from across the nation, also appears in the video. Read the rest of this entry »


Happy times are here again! Republicans have won the Senate, and they surely won’t screw it up this time. Right?

photo/politico

The GOP Senate: A New Utopia Dawns

P.J. O’RourkeP.J. writes: Like all good Republicans, I’m so happy I could frack the moon. I could drone strike the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, I’m flying that high. I’m feeling good enough to lay 1,179 miles of pipe with my honey-bunny Keystone XL. And now that the GOP has bedded the House andthe Senate, she is, ahem, about to come – delivering crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast and all the wetlands, wilderness areas, monica_lewinski_tomrichmond_comand sensitive eco-systems in between.

“Extraordinary things occurred the last time Republicans took legislative power away from a liberal quack…”

And that’s just the beginning of the wonderful events that are about to transpire. This is more exciting than the Newt Gingrich congressional triumph of 1994. Obama is a bigger sitting duck than Clinton. And Obama is a lame duck too. No Democratic Senate or House candidate was sitting in the voter blind with Hope and Change decoys on the electoral pond calling, “Barack! Barack! Barack!” Even the Dems ducked Obama.DonkeyHotey / Foter / CC BY

“To sum those things up in just two words, which still stir the heart of every right-thinking member of the Grand Old Party: Monica Lewinsky. Was that fun or what?”

And there was the Contract with America, with its balanced budget and term limits Constitutional Amendments and its Personal Responsibility Act to discourage having children out of wedlock.

Gop-Examiner

In 1993, 27 percent of American children were illegitimate. Now it’s, um, about 40 percent. But, come on, what kind of self-respecting Republican writes a contract that he can’t wiggle out of with the help of lawyers? And practically everyone in Congress is one. Read the rest of this entry »


Apparently there’s a DOJ employee whose entire job is to reject FOIA requests


That Other Mega-Legislation: Remember the Dodd-Frank Act?

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ARNOLD ROTH

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ARNOLD ROTH

Too Convoluted to Succeed 

Nicole Gelinas writes:  Five years ago this September, the Lehman Brothers investment bank collapsed. Markets around the world froze until Western governments devised a massive bailout plan that kept investors from pulling trillions out of the global financial system and precipitating a worldwide depression. The financial crisis helped propel Barack Obama to the presidency. In his inaugural address, Obama said that the crisis was a reminder that “without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control.” After the February 2009 stimulus law and the March 2010 “Obamacare” health-insurance overhaul, the Dodd-Frank financial-reform act of July 2010—meant to sharpen the vision of that “watchful eye”—became Obama’s third signature legislative victory. “The American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes,” Obama said as he signed the bill into law. “There will be no more tax-funded bailouts—period.” To applause, he added that “there will be new rules to make clear that no firm is somehow protected because it is ‘too big to fail.’ ”

But three years later, “too big to fail” lives on. “There’s a growing bipartisan consensus that the Dodd-Frank Act regrettably did not end the ‘too-big-to-fail’ phenomenon or its consequent bailouts,” Texas congressman Jeb Hensarling, head of the House financial-services committee, said just before Dodd-Frank’s third anniversary this summer. Republicans aren’t the only ones saying so. Elizabeth Warren, the new Democratic senator from Massachusetts, recently introduced her own “end too big to fail” bill, implicitly suggesting that Dodd-Frank did not fix the problem. At one congressional hearing after another, independent expert witnesses, as well as top officials from the Obama administration, have admitted that there is still no structure in place that would allow large financial institutions to go under without risking an economic meltdown. What went wrong with Dodd-Frank, and how can the problems be fixed? Read the rest of this entry »


Delusional Left’s Fever-Dream Fantasy: Elizabeth Warren Presidential Campaign

Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

First Native American to run for President? Or Hillary Clinton remorse? Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

After Senator Elizabeth “Pocahotmess” Warren spoke at a luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif., last month, women from the audience swarmed around her, many of them asking the same question: will you run for president? Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Dangerous Contempt for the Rule of Law

By Ramesh Ponnuru – May 27, 2013

Whatever the investigation into misconduct at the Internal Revenue Service reveals, we already have all the evidence we need to understand President Barack Obama’s fundamental attitude toward the rule of law. That evidence is right there in the public record, and what it shows is indifference and contempt.

The Constitution gives the president the power to appoint officials to fill vacancies when the Senate isn’t in session. In 2012, Obama made such “recess appointments” to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — even though the Senate had stayed in session precisely to keep him from doing so.

Obama’s lawyers argued that the Senate wasn’t really in session even though it claimed to be: It was going through the motions to block Obama, but it wasn’t taking up bills or nominations. No previous president had ever tried this maneuver, and an appeals court has just ruled that it was unconstitutional.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the sweeping health-care law that Obama signed in 2010, asks state governments to set up health exchanges, and authorizes the federal government to provide tax credits to people who use those exchanges to get insurance. But most states have refused to establish the online marketplaces, and both the tax credits and many of the law’s penalties can’t go into effect until the states act.

Obama’s IRS has decided it’s going to apply the tax credits and penalties in states that refuse, even without statutory authorization. During the recent scandal over the IRS’s harassment of conservative groups, many Republicans have warned that the IRS can’t be trusted with the new powers that the health law will give the agency. They are wrong about the verb tense: It has already abused those powers…

…More via Bloomberg