While everyone's looking at the Senate right now for confirmation hearing antics and Trump giving arguably the worst press conference ever, please keep an eye on where the real evil is being manufactured: Paul Ryan and the House.
Republicans on Wednesday passed a bill in the House of Representatives that touched on nearly every step U.S. agencies take in creating and applying new rules, continuing their blitz to radically reform "abusive" federal regulation of areas from the environment to the workplace.
In a 238-183 vote, the House passed the "Regulatory Accountability Act," which combined eight bills aimed at changing how the vast government bureaucracy runs. Only five Democrats voted for it.
The legislation would give President-elect Donald Trump tools "to wipe out abusive regulation," said Bob Goodlatte, the Judiciary Committee chairman who is among the many House leaders calling for lighter regulation and saying the costs to comply with federal rules are too high.
Republicans say there is little accountability for regulations that apply to almost every aspect of American life because they are created by appointed officials and not elected representatives. Federal agencies operate either independently or under the president's authority.
The current reform push is part of Trump's campaign promise to "drain the swamp," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Wednesday.
As House Republicans push for reform - last week they passed bills requiring Congressional approval of major rules and giving Congress power to kill dozens of recently enacted ones - Democrats are fighting back.
Democrats have said the many extra procedures required by the reform bills would stall agencies' work, making it impossible to create needed regulations on the environment, financial markets and other areas. Democrats contend that slowing down rulemaking is intended to help big businesses escape oversight.
The accountability act would jeopardize the government's capability "to safeguard public health and safety, the environment, workplace safety and consumer financial protections," the Judiciary Committee's senior Democrat, John Conyers, said before the vote.
"Worse yet, many of these new requirements are intended to facilitate the ability of regulated entities - such as well-funded corporate interests - to intervene and derail regulatory protections they oppose," Conyers said.
Specifically, the bill would require agencies to post more detailed information on proposals for an extended period of time, limit judge's interpretations in legal challenges, and require agencies to enact the lowest-cost version of a rule.
That's the big one, folks. This legislation would allow corporate lobbyists the final say on which regulations they should be subject to. In other words, the EPA, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, SEC, FDA and FCC? The regulation they'd make would be rendered toothless. They wouldn't be watchdog agencies to protect Americans, they'd be government industry groups designed to protect corporations.
The Bush administration made this the default before the Obama administration used these regulatory agencies for their intended purpose. Now the GOP is changing their intended purpose by law to be nothing more than government industry advocacy groups, wholly subject to Congress.
Hopefully Senate Dems can block this with a filibuster, but I can think of a couple of Senate Dems would would be more than happy to destroy the EPA or the CFPA or to defang the FCC or FDA. Don't count on them saving us from this.
We'll see where this legislation goes, but expect the shock and awe portion of the Trump regime in earnest in a couple weeks. Things will move quickly after his inauguration, and America will be inundated by a deluge of GOP garbage like this. I'm betting a healthy chunk of it will become law.