Sunday, February 28, 2010

The biggest most powerful out-of-control government bureaucracy you've never heard of

Ilya Shapiro, Constitutional scholar at the Cato Institute, spoke to the Phoenix Federalist Society Thursday evening about the atrocious government agency known as the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), which Shapiro calls "Peek-a-boo." Created in 2002 by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to act as a watchdog over business, it was approved 99-0 in the Senate and 423-3 in the House. It has turned into an unaccountable bureaucracy, virtually its own tiny microcosm of government with the board yielding all powers traditionally divided among three branches of government - it creates and enforces laws, prosecutes, enforces penalties, and levies taxes, all independent of any real oversight.

It has proven quite costly, costing the economy $1.5 trillion net (and that's after any benefits are taken into account). The SEC is supposed to oversee it, but members can only be removed "for cause" which means only if they are found guilty of willful misconduct. Board members make astronomical salaries, $550,000/yr and $650,000/yr for the chairman. Shapiro joked that due to all the business Peek-a-boo has brought the London Stock Exchange as it fled the U.S., London should erect golden statutes to Congressmen Sarbanes and Oxley.

Fortunately, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. This is proving to be the most important separation of powers case in 20 years. Justice Kennedy is expected to be the swing vote. Due to the current anti-big government spending mood across the country, Peek-a-boo's days may be numbered.

Read Shapiro's article here.

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