Up | March 10, 2013
>>> sun life foundation put together this amazing graphic and it charts the number of meetings with the fed, treasury and the commodities and futures trading committee, ftc, on dodd /frank rules. this is rule-making. this is the number of meetings, by year, after dodd /frank was passed. on the right, representatives of major banks and banking groups. there's a lot of meetings. on the left, the little sliver in blue are consumer groups. that spashlly right there, that's the aa symmetry. it's really hard to get folks activated and enganged on that left side of the chart doing, fighting -- as an organizer, someone who works in community groups, how do you -- is there a way to solve that problem?
>> well, here's the truth. the less sunshine there is, the worse the public interest does in these processes. some rule-making processes are extended over years, so it really takes organized movement of a million people over a very long period of time to break through this kind of phalinx of organized money. the thing that's stunning to me, even the most commonsense things are incredibly hard to get done. most americans assume the minimum wage applies to everyone. turns out 2.5 million for health care professionals are exempt from that. oemb is stuck.
>> that's a regulatory rule. the way the law's interpreted exempts these workers. regulatory rule worked through the rule-making process says you can't exempt people --
>> they're classified as companions and the rule would bring them back on the same footing as every other american. it's taken a huge push from the outside.
>> have you been trying to push that through?
>> we have as a big co-lags of organizations. it's incredible that even when people commands 80%, 90% public support, as this does, it's murder to get these through.
>> one of the things here is expertise. this is one of the problems, right? as a member of congress , how -- i mean, you can't -- even the smartest, most, you know, rav ravenous reader of information can't get into the level of detail that, you know, a civil servant working in the -- in an organization that's regulating, right, one of the regulators can get, right? you have to be briefed by people. how do you as a congressman know what you think on this stuff when it's so -- when it is so obscure?
>> i want to make the point i talked about agreeing about the rules and the lobbyists. there's nothing wrong with lobbying. i was a teacher by degree, worked for the government, people coming from all walks of life and they need to be educated educated. the question is can people off the street can they get into that congresswoman's or congressman's office. one of my former employees, dave de stefano went to work for fannie and freddie -- or freddie mac . dave calls, he wants to see me, so he can see me. the question is, can john smith who calls say, i want to talk to bob ney . well, who are you? where are you from? do you have an event you're going to? bob will be there. if you have a scam pain, he'll really be there. but access is a very important part. members of congress open their doors up and some members don't. access is the key because we don't know what we're doing half the time on issues.
>> that's not even to say bad things about members of congress . when you're dealing with something as complicated and complex and technical as the rule-making process for dodd /frank or rule-making process on clean air rules or rule-making process on affordable care act -- a friend of mine works in the federal government going through that rule-making process. you know, it takes a tremendous amount of expertise to be marshalled. if you're going to be briefed, who is briefing you wields tremendous power. the thing you know about this obscure issue is going to be what you know because that one person told you about.
>> the staff wields power because, look, if you are a lobbyist today in washington and if someone disagrees, speak up, you've dealt with the hill f you're a lobbyist forget knowing the member. it's great if you do. know that staffer. if you met them at a restaurant, oh, it's a gift from up above.
>> there's a class of people who move from the hill to the regulatory agencies to working for industry. back and forth in a rotation. so, there's a web of relationships that's how policy really gets done now.
>> i think it's right you need to know the staff. i want to make this point that i think that the staff themselves are also overwhelmed, right?
>> i like to make this analogy, it's a technical analogy but there's a thing called denial of service attack . when a bunch of hackers are trying to hit a website at the same time using software. it hits it so many times, the whole thing goes down.
>> it crashes, right.
>> i feel like lobbying is a denial of service attack on the time of the staffers. they don't have time to read up on the issues.
>> that's totally right.
>> they don't have time to make their own informed opinion so they have to go on gut.
>> if you send 100 people to talk to your staffer on a housing issue or a rule that's being written to get this -- you know, it ends up being triage, right? you can write this letter and get them off your back and get them off your case.
>> and there's fear. when there's time pressure it's who's going to get really mad at me and cause my boss major problems. that's always industry.
>> i chaired house administration , oversaw operation of capital. members would come to me saying we need more staff, more electronics, we can't keep up. 15,000 e-mails coming in. e-mails are almost useless sometimes, and i hate to tell people that, but the hill is overwhelmed beyond comprehension. there's a lot of good people there but they are beyond overwhelmed.
>> this is how lobbyists' bills get through. they don't have the time. they say, legislate this. they say, okay.
>> the hill is fundamentally overwhelmed by the breadth of issue and the staff, i love them, but they are quite young, quite inexperienced, grotesquely underpaid. no way for individual member offices to keep up to date. agencies don't have that excuse. one thing agencies can and should do is get out of washington and hear actual stories from real live human beings which helps to frame the issues.
>> here's a question. so, this gets us to dodd /frank, what you just said, which was crafted intentionally with quite a bit of latitude for regulators, right? it was a strategic decision, partly to get the thing passed. then a lot of the guts of how strong a bill this was going to be was going to be dependent on the rule-making process. i wanted to ask whether that has been successful thus far. nservative investor.