Two bits today on how the Obama Administration is doing by regulation things they couldn’t get through Congress.
First, the FEC quietly released regulations that purport to answer the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v FEC — by inserting into regulations big parts of the unpassed, and probably equally unconstitutional, DREAM Act:
Among other things, Draft A proposes onerous reporting requirements for organizations and entities that do not conduct their political activity through segregated funds — this discriminatory treatment was a key provision of the DISCLOSE Act. It also contemplates doing away with the FEC’s current disclosure practices in favor of broader and more burdensome disclosure of funding sources. Draft A also proposes to enact through regulation the provisions of the DISCLOSE Act that applied to “foreign nationals.” These provisions were overbroad as drafted by Congress, for example Verizon Wireless would be considered a foreign national; they are still overbroad when proposed by the FEC. Congress failed to enact these provisions. I fear the day that a federal agency like the FEC would attempt to do through regulation that which Congress failed to do through legislation.
In other news. the Comcast/NBC merger was finally approved… with conditions. As PJM contributor Ira Stoll points out at The Future of Capitalism:
If Congress tried to pass a law saying the government is going to fund high-speed internet access for the poor for less than $10 a month and mandate more Spanish-language television channels, it’d have a hard time. But if the FCC tries to do it as part of imposed conditions on a merger that two big businesses badly want passed, it can get away with it. Instead of just looking at the merger on antitrust grounds and either approving it or denying it, the merger becomes an opening for the FCC to require all sorts of stuff from the merger applicants.