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July 01, 2022 | The American Prospect

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal Mekedas Belayneh Glenna Li

Op-Ed

Executive BranchIndependent Agencies

In The Wake Of "Dobbs," Biden Leans on Familiar Excuses for Inaction

During his campaign, now-President Biden loved likening his image to that of FDR. But when a rogue U.S. Supreme Court threatened to overturn the sweeping reforms of FDR’s New Deal, Roosevelt directly challenged their gross power grab by threatening court expansion coupled with expansive judicial reforms. The controversial move paid off; the Court subsequently backed down and FDR preserved the slate of New Deal–era reforms that kept the working class alive during the depths of the Great Depression and formed the basis for much more broadly shared prosperity in the subsequent decades.

June 30, 2022

Hannah Story Brown

Press Release

ClimateCongressional OversightEthics in GovernmentExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

RELEASE: Impact of Supreme Court’s EPA Decision Can Be Minimized Through Decisive Executive Counteractions

Today the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in West Virginia v. EPA, curbing the EPA’s authority to establish carbon emissions caps under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act. It is a significant blow, and is further evidence of how far this empowered, extremist Supreme Court will go to erode the functions of our government and contravene the public interest. But it is not a lethal blow. Many tools to stave off the climate crisis and facilitate an equitable energy transition remain available to the EPA, to the White House, and to Congress. 

June 23, 2022 | The American Prospect

Glenna Li

Op-Ed

Government CapacityIndependent AgenciesLaborNLRB

President Biden’s Best Agency Is Starved for Cash

Two months after Ithaca, New York, became the first city to unionize all of its Starbucks locations, Starbucks announced a dramatic alteration to its business plan for the city: It was closing a shop with one week’s notice. The coffee leviathan stated the store was closing due to “efficiency” concerns and would not guarantee new jobs for the location’s workers.

June 13, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal Mekedas Belayneh

Blog Post

FDAGovernment CapacityIndependent Agencies

The Decades-Long Food Failure at the FDA 

In 2008, a deadly salmonella outbreak from contaminated peanut products killed nine and sickened over 700 people. In the aftermath, the peanut executives who poisoned people with food they knew was contaminated received decades-long prison sentences, an all-too-rare case of a corporate criminal being held responsible for the harm they caused. Contemporary public outrage also helped to fuel a push for more structural reform to the food safety regulatory system as a whole. Shortly after the outbreak, the Obama administration began whipping bipartisan congressional support for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which sought to prevent future food safety crises by expanding and strengthening the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority over food. FSMA ultimately passed both the Senate and the House by wide margins and enjoyed broad public support when finally enacted in 2011. 

June 08, 2022

Timi Iwayemi

Press Release

cryptocurrencyFinancial RegulationFintechIndependent Agencies

RELEASE: Lummis-Gillibrand Crypto Bill Is An Irresponsible Handout To The Crypto Industry

“The industry carve outs in this bill are a reminder of the danger of corporate influence in our political system. The crypto industry’s leading figures have spent enormous amounts to shield the industry from proper financial oversight. This money has been funneled towards revolving-door hiring of former CFTC officials, formation of super PACs, and congressional campaign donations. The industry has also bemoaned the SEC’s robust regulatory posture, decrying it with the self-defeating ostensible insult of ‘regulation by enforcement.’ That supposed criticism merely underlines the urgent need for the SEC to act. Existing law is clear, and it mandates that the SEC enforce existing statutory and regulatory limits that crypto bros have brazenly broken on the assumption that they will be able to buy clemency before they are sanctioned appropriately.”

June 01, 2022

Jeff Hauser

Press Release

2020 Election/TransitionDepartment of JusticeEthics in GovernmentIndependent Agencies

With Jan. 6 Public Hearings on the Horizon, Garland Must Deliver Actual Accountability

“From Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, to George H.W. Bush’s pardons of the Iran-Contra scandal’s architects, to Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer’s acquiescence to the financial fraudsters who generated the Great Recession, America has seen a precipitous decline in equality under the law.”

May 17, 2022

Mekedas Belayneh Dorothy Slater

Blog Post

ClimateExecutive BranchIndependent Agencies

One Weird Trick To Prevent the TVA From Building New Gas Plants

The Tennessee Valley Authority, an independent agency of the federal government which acts as a public utility for over 10 million residents in and around Tennessee, announced in March that it would replace two aging coal-fired power plants with gas-powered plants. As the nation’s largest public utility company, the move goes against Biden’s goal to achieve a clean energy grid by 2035. TVA could be leading the charge for renewables, but its fossil fuel CEO Jeff Lyash, who comes out of fossil fuels, is instead choosing to lock in polluting gas for decades. This does not have to be the case. 

May 17, 2022

Press Release

Anti-MonopolyEthics in GovernmentIndependent AgenciesTech

Coalition Tells DOJ: Don’t Bend to Google’s Bullying, Grant Kanter a Recusal Waiver Now

The Revolving Door Project and 27 groups sent a letter to Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Friday, urging her to promptly issue a recusal waiver for Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter to work on the Department’s case against Google. The groups, including the American Economic Liberties Project, Demand Progress, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, emphasized that ethics law does not require Jonathan Kanter to recuse and that Google’s attempts to insist otherwise is an effort to “bully regulators into submission.” 

May 10, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Government CapacityIndependent AgenciesIRS

The IRS Has Finally Been Given The Power to Rebuild. It’s Not Enough.

In March, six months after the start of Fiscal Year 2022, Congress finally passed an omnibus funding agreement that brought agencies out from under the shadow of Trump-era austerity (although still fell far short of enacting the funding levels that most agencies require to meet their responsibilities to the public). Critically, in the case of at least one agency, the omnibus did not just grant the money to hire new staff, but the means to do so much more quickly. At the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Congress greenlit the use of direct hiring authorities to empower the agency to temporarily forgo some of the more onerous aspects of the federal hiring process as well as to facilitate a quick rebuilding of the IRS’ notoriously depleted ranks. With this designation, Congress acknowledged that staff shortages at the IRS had reached a state of emergency and thus acted accordingly. 

April 28, 2022

Toni Aguilar Rosenthal

Blog Post

Independent AgenciesIRS

Who Is The IRS’ Chief Counsel? Under Biden, No One.

enforcing the U.S. tax code. Much has been written regarding the IRS’ gutting over the years. The agency has been systematically defunded, deresourced, and attacked by political operatives for decades, at a grave cost to the basic functionality of our government, and to the benefit of only the richest Americans. These trends were only exacerbated under the Trump administration, which was hyper-focused on dismantling the tax system to benefit its corporate and billionaire cronies. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s destructive influence remains pervasive throughout the IRS, with Trump’s Commissioner, Charles Rettig, still installed as the governing head of the agency while finishing a 5-year term (at the pleasure of the president) set to expire in 2022.