Welcome to "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 receive very little coverage. To make sense of these debates, follow the implementation of health care and financial reform and decipher the minutia of the Federal Register, "The Watchdog" is on the case. If you have any tips, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Treasury's Deputy Secretary Neil Wolin strikes back at critics of financial regulatory reform with a speech today to the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit public policy group.
Wolin, who is often used as a pit bull to push back against Treasury's critics, takes aim at GOP lawmakers and Wall Street lobbyists working to delay and dilute new financial rules and regulations. He forcefully defends the pace and breadth of reforms that are currently being implemented by various agencies and strongly advocates for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a target of particular scorn.
He ends the speech with an emphasis on the need for reform in the wake of the worst crisis since the Great Depression:
Sixth –- and perhaps the most striking criticism of all -– is that we can’t afford these new protections. Some say that regulatory reform is too costly. We say that the costliest system of all is one that’s prone to collapse. In the absence of the proper protections – in effect, in the absence of the protections that this legislation puts in place – our system descended into a crisis that had tremendous costs to businesses, to the economy, and to the American people. If we had not moved to reform the system, we would find ourselves still exposed to a cycle of collapses and crisis, with potentially devastating repercussions for the nation. But we did reform the system. And we need make sure that agencies have the resources they need to implement the law. The strategy of some critics to defund enforcement or implementation is part of a larger strategy to undermine the statute and weaken the comprehensive reforms it puts in place. We cannot afford to let that happen. We can’t afford it, because the price of reform is a small one compared to the cost of crisis. We must invest now in building a strong, stable system. There is no responsible alternative, because if we don’t invest in reform now, we run the unacceptable risk that we will pay dearly later – in jobs, in lost wealth, in foreclosed homes, and in the soundness and security of our entire economy.
We can’t allow that.
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• Why are toxic skin lighteners still legal? asks Mother Jones. After all, some of them contain dangerous ingredients like mercury and hydroquinone, which causes a condition that toughens the skin.
• Joe Nocera kicks off his NYT op-ed column today with a bang: "Though, to be honest, calling the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency a 'regulator' is almost laughable. The Environmental Protection Agency is a regulator. The O.C.C. is a coddler, a protector, an outright enabler of the institutions it oversees."
• The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is supposed to police, not promote the nuclear power industry, but diplomatic cables obtained by Reuters "show that it is sometimes used as a sales tool to help push American technology to foreign governments," lobbying for the purchase of equipment made by Westinghouse, for example.