By Frank Knapp Jr., vice-chair of the American Sustainable Business Council and president of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce
The RAA is designed to micromanage every federal agency in its efforts to create rules necessary to carry out legislation passed by Congress.
By doing so, it turns over 60 years of effective regulation promulgation under the Administration Procedures Act into a protracted process that will stretch the time needed for rule-making into decades. Federal agency budgets will need to be expanded by hundreds of billions of dollars to comply with the RAA and perform their usual functions of protecting the public and small businesses from unsafe products and practices.
Congressional and presidential governance will be replaced by bureaucratic decisions designed to appease special interests. Elected leaders will be turned into figureheads whose every effort to exercise the will of the voters will be thwarted by the will of government bureaucrats, special interests and the courts.
Finally, the legislation is a corporate lobbyist dream. It appears to have been written by corporate attorneys for corporate attorneys.
Every aspect of the RAA is geared toward encouraging special interests to legally challenge every regulation of an agency. Even frivolous lawsuits are protected under the bill because the RAA defines as "substantial evidence" for a lawsuit to be anything the special interest thinks is "reasonable."
The 32-page RAA mentions judicial review, litigation, the court and other lawsuit terminology 18 times. The bill even includes a provision guaranteeing "immediate judicial review" for any special interest on every aspect of the prescribed rule-making process. Even the decision by an agency that a rule will not meet the minimum $100 million threshold can be challenged in court, making the developing of any rule subject to the extensive and expensive rule-making process prescribed in the RAA.
There is no way to describe the RAA in any other simpler terms than to call it what it is—a budget-busting, anti-democracy, Corporate Attorneys Full Employment Act.
It is no wonder then that supporters of the RAA are primarily U.S.-based multinational corporations. Increasing the cost of government for taxpayers is not a concern to these corporations that use offshore tax havens and other deceptive accounting practices to avoid paying their fair share of U.S. taxes. If federal agency budgets must be increased because of the RAA, it won't be the multinationals footing the bill.
The multinationals have no allegiance to government and democracy. Their shareholders and corporate executives are the only flags they salute. A diminishing of our democratic governance only serves to give the multinationals more power.
The only authorities these multinationals recognize are the courts. With their enormous wealth, multinationals eagerly pay expensive corporate attorneys to delay, change or kill any government regulation that stands in their way of profit. This means that the RAA threatens every American citizen's health and safety.
In regard to the No. 1 issue today, jobs(other than corporate attorney jobs), the RAA will create none in the private sector. Instead, it
endangers the well-regulated marketplace essential in establishing fair competition between small, mid-size and big business. The RAA will allow
big business to push smaller competitors out of the marketplace, thus killing jobs.
The RAA is not just bad legislation. It is extremist legislation designed to protect the very entities from which the rest of us need protection-multinational corporations.
Knapp is vice-chair of the American Sustainable Business Council and president of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.