Welcome to our new blog, "The Watchdog," which will keep a close eye on regulatory agencies and how their actions impact the lives of everyday Americans. Though the rules and regulations they write -- from determining how much arsenic is allowable in your drinking water to whether your favorite TV show can drop the F-bomb in primetime -- affect all of us, their deliberations and the way that lobbyists influence their decisions receives very little coverage.
To make sense of these debates, follow the implementation of health care reform and financial reform and decipher the minutia of the Federal Register, "The Watchdog" is on the case. If you have any tips or suggestions, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former Lehman executive Larry McDonald, the author of "A Colossal Failure of Common Sense," summarizes the implementation of Dodd-Frank's regulation of the financial industry and the banking industry's response.
When it comes to debit interchange fees, the new rules attempt to place a ceiling on the amount of money that debit-card issuers (the banks) can charge to merchants for “swipe fees.” Expect that ceiling to be adjusted -- the Fed seems open to adjustments based on the complaints of the bank lobby.
Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, today emphasized his agency's commitment to job creation in response to claims that regulations hurt businesses and hinder job growth. From his statement, timed to today's House Oversight subcommittee hearing on “Unfunded Mandates and Regulatory Overreach”:
“I think we can all agree that the American economy must succeed but never at the cost of the safety or health of American workers. OSHA’s goal is to ensure that everyone who goes to work returns home safely. I think we can also agree that the size of a business should not determine the level of protection that a worker receives. All workers have the same right to a safe workplace.
“Despite concerns about the effect of regulation on American business, there is clear evidence that OSHA’s commonsense regulations have made working conditions in this country today far safer than 40 years ago when the agency was created, while at the same time protecting American jobs. The truth is that OSHA standards don’t kill jobs. They stop jobs from killing workers. OSHA standards don’t just prevent worker injuries and illnesses. They also drive technological innovation, making industries more competitive."
UPDATE: Our first correction -- I mistakenly reported that this panel discussion is taking place today when in fact it occurred last year. I regret the error.
In Maine, hundreds of people gathered to support -- and oppose -- Gov. Paul LePage's first big legislative effort, which would scale back the state's environmental laws. "We believe we can effect immediate change in the perceived adversarial posture regulatory agencies have taken toward our business and development community," Kathleen Newman, LePage's deputy chief of staff, told Fox-23 TV.
Last year, activists convened on two college campuses in Michigan to attack the scientific consensus that climate change is accelerated by man-made emissions.
At the time, environmental activists noted that the so-called expert panel includes no speakers with background in climatology or science of any kind, but rather a newspaper cartoonist and representatives from anti-regulatory organizations and think tanks.
From the panel's agenda:
The scientific case for man-made global warming has been seriously damaged by shoddy science and political interference, as evidenced by the recent Climategate scandal. As the science behind anthropomorphic climate change is undermined, the future of national cap-and-trade and other "green" legislation is uncertain.
- How should advertising on the Internet be regulated? The FTC has guidelines requiring bloggers to disclose paid product reviews, and the FDA is looking into pharmaceutical marketing on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The Government Accountability Office takes a look at those efforts.
- More congressional hearings about the impact of regulations: this morning, a House Oversight subcommittee discusses “Unfunded Mandates and Regulatory Overreach” with GAO's Denise Fantone and Bush-era OIRA administrator Susan Dudley.
- The 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline is corroded and poses a severe public safety and environmental risk, says the US Department of Transportation.
- Most medical devices recalled in recent years by the Food and Drug Administration because they posed a high risk to patients were not rigorously studied before being cleared for sale, according to a study in a medical journal released Monday.