Friday, August 13, 2004 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Take Back Your Seats, Part III

The exchange between Ray and I below about the appointments process for FCC commissioners has gone in exactly the direction I had hoped. It illustrates the gap between the idealized Progressive-era model of "expert" agencies peopled by "men of big ability and big vision", as Senator Dill, the chief Senate sponsor of the Radio Act of 1927 put it, and the reality of practical politics. In my view, you can't take politics out of policymaking and assume that policy, communications or otherwise, will be made by a group of platonic guardians (the "experts") divorced from politics. And in a democracy, nor should you want to.

What is most important, of course, is accountability for political decisions. That's why I'd seriously consider moving a slimmed down FCC to the Executive Branch under a regime that would give the president more control over its actions. And at the same time make him more accountable for implementing communications policy. Remember that Congress can legislate communications policy with as much (or as little) specific direction as it wants, thus confining or not agency discretion. What we are talking about here is the executive function of implementing whatever authority Congress delegates when it either explicitly or implicitly leaves discretion to the agency.

Here's an earlier piece I wrote for Legal Times calling into question the idea (at least in today's environment) of the FCC as an exemplar of the apolitical "expert" agency model. Another one on "Reinventing the FCC" will be published shortly.

posted by Randolph May @ 1:13 PM | General