This law firm is closely tracking the law’s implementation, as many other firms certainly are. There will be plenty of money to be made by lawyers who can exploit loopholes in the law. Davis Polk reports that as of this month, regulators have missed more than 60 percent of their deadlines to issue finalized rules. “In addition, 131 (32.9 percent) of the 398 total required rulemakings have been finalized, while 132 (33.2 percent) rulemaking requirements have not yet been proposed,” the firm reports.
So, to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi, even though Congress has passed Dodd-Frank, we still don’t know what’s in it.
Here’s one thing we do know: a crucial agency created by the law is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Congress gave it the power to write hundreds of rules and regulations, dealing with everything from Wall Street to debit-card fees.
That brings us back to cell phones. Most Americans agree to two-year service contracts, but have the option to break their contracts by paying a fee. Well, under Dodd-Frank an option is a swap. The CFTC has announced it doesn’t plan to regulate consumer contracts, but the agency has never explained why a cell-phone contract isn’t an illegal, unregistered swap. It could, of course, change its ruling next month or next year; this is a regulation, not a written law.
Dodd-Frank isn’t the only example of this sort of lawmaking process, of course. Obamacare does much the same thing. Under both “laws,” regulators were told to take action on a particular topic at some point in the future, leaving millions of Americans waiting for their decision. For example, there are hundreds of places where Obamacare says the HHS Secretary “shall,” “may,” or “determines” something or other. The Secretary’s word will be law. But nobody voted for that secretary.
The Framers understood human nature and feared strong, central government. That’s why the Constitution carefully enumerates what each branch of government is supposed to do, and it’s why the enumerated powers so often overlap.
Our forefathers expected that members of the executive, judicial and legislative branches would attempt to expand their powers, but that members of the other branches would be constantly pushing back. The resulting give-and-take would tend to limit the power in any particular branch. But the Framers couldn’t have imagined that members of the legislative branch would, instead, eagerly hand off their authority to unelected bureaucrats in another federal branch.
It’s time for lawmakers to assert their authority and stop passing the buck. Call your congressman, before some agency decides to take your phone away.