As incomprehensible as it seems, the Republican leaders in Congress are pulling out the stops to undermine crucial public protections. They seem hellbent on hamstringing agencies that are supposed to be protecting our air, water, land and more.
The vehicle they focused on today was the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 10). Here is a statement from the newly formed Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, of which Public Citizen is a member:
The House Judiciary Committee moved one step closer today to approving the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 10), a bill that would undermine the public protections most crucial to our health, safety, environment and economy. The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) strongly opposes the REINS Act and its attempts to radically alter the balance of power in government and jeopardize the public interest.
The REINS Act would require congressional approval of all major federal rules within 70 legislative days. Without approval, the rules would be nullified. If enacted, the bill will mire these rules in congressional gridlock and endanger the commonsense standards that protect the food our families eat, the air our children breathe and the products we buy for our homes. The bill could also undermine new laws regulating Wall Street and expanding access to health care.
When Public Citizen learned of the controversial Citizens United v. the FEC Supreme Court ruling in 2010, we knew– American democracy was in grave danger. By affording corporate entities the same first amendment rights as individuals, the Supreme Court had unleashed a monster. In Wisconsin and and indeed across the nation, the ravaging effects of uncontrolled special-interest spending led by the now infamous Koch Industry brothers and other nefarious corporations, is already clear. How quickly the right to free speech becomes the right to buy elections and the right to buy elections becomes the right to push policies that the profit interests of overpaid CEO’s over those of the American people.
In a blog post today on the front page of Salon.com, Andrew Leonard states:
It’s almost too neat. Corporate money floods into the election process, Republicans win a huge victory, and a crackdown on unions starts everywhere.
The short post highlights an article by The New Yorker ‘s Hendrick Hertzberg and is a great read alongside a February 25 blog post by Public Citizen President Robert Weismann. In his post entitled “Wisconsin & America” Weismann observes, “The clashes in Wisconsin and other states, and in Washington, D.C., are dressed up in the language of budget debates. But these debates have nothing to do with “fiscal responsibility.” They are about what kind of society we want.”
If you find yourself reading the news and wondering what is behind this seeming unraveling of our democracy– the thread to look to is the one pulled by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. FEC ruling. The way to stop the unraveling is to mobilize behind our campaign to pass a constitutional amendment to override Citizens United v. FEC and ensure that democracy is (as it should be by definition) for people, not corporations. Please go to our new campaign website to get involved today!