Autonomous administrative agencies are anathema to certain sorts of lawmakers, e.g., those who think that we are always better off with less regulation. Recent legislation – H.R. 3193 – passed the House last week looking to make the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection more accountable. Yesterday I posted a quick blog on this bill on Credit Slips, but want to explore the issue a little more deeply today from the perspective of positive political theory (“PPT”).
PPT theorists note that congressional efforts to constrain administrative agency authority occur at two points in time: first, ex ante, when Congress is designing the agency and, second, ex post, after the agency already exists. H.R. 3193 looks to redesign the CFPB but it is an ex post, not ex ante, effort to constrain the CFPB’s authority. And this makes a lot of difference.
Ex post congressional reaction to an agency works through “reward-and-sanction mechanisms” that depend on “the law of anticipated reactions.”