Yet another power grab found in a stimulus relief bill.
Spoiler: Horses have nothing to do with COVID-19… and yet they have everything to do with how both the government and unelected insiders have used the pandemic to increase their power.
Like all the stimulus bills we have seen thus far, December’s featured more pork than relief for everyday Americans. It was a ripe opportunity for problematic bills to be passed since Senators would be hard pressed to vote against helping suffering Americans in a pandemic.
We’re only just now unraveling the ramifications of the over 5,500 page document.
Hidden among those pages was a bill that never would have passed on it’s own merits: Congress took the power to regulate the horseracing industry away from states, nationalized it and gave it to industry insiders.
The bill, called the “Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority” (HISA), goes so far as to give governmental authority to a private, unaccountable organization. Under this bill, the group can make federal laws and tax the entire industry.
Think about it: what if Congress handed over control of regulating civil aviation to United Airlines. And if United Airlines — without any oversight from elected officials — was able to establish federal law for the entire civil aviation industry?
Or what if Bank of America was tasked with writing federal law for the entire banking industry?
It’s an obvious conflict of interest. There’s a reason regulators aren’t industry operators and insiders.
“All Americans should be concerned when Congress gives power to regulate an entire industry to a private group of industry insiders,” said Brian Kelsey, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center.
“This goes way beyond setting rules for the sport of horse racing. This is not the NBA or the NFL. The ‘Authority’ has the power to make laws, issue subpoenas and effectively tax owners with little real oversight. Placing that power in a private organization is illegal and must be stopped.”
How surprised should we be? This kind of cronyism has been more visible than ever during the pandemic. Over and over, we have seen officials make decisions that defy all science, logic, and basic human empathy in order to appease and please their own circles.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, officials advantageously decided which businesses can remain open and which must close, crippling industries and leading many to close their doors permanently.
We’re over a year into this mess and yet less than half of our high school students have gotten to return to in-person class, all because the teachers unions are in the government’s back pocket (though even generally union-aligned politicians like Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot are seeing the true nature of teachers unions.)
At the minimum, the above examples had some kind of excusable cover: officials were dealing with emerging and often conflicting scientific advisories. Stakeholders were frightened and frenzied about potential COVID-19 transmission.
But now working class men and women in the horseracing industry are on the chopping block. It has nothing to do with coronavirus, and everything to do with cronyism.
“There’s a real concern among Thoroughbred horse owners that this could put us out of business,” said Bill Walmsley, president of the Arkansas HBPA.
“By passing HISA, Congress picked winners and losers and put well-connected owners in charge of horse racing across the country. There was no serious debate or discussion about the costs, let alone the legality of creating a private group to control horse racing.”
If we don’t stop this from happening, what’s to say your industry isn’t next?
That’s why we’re representing the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association in a lawsuit and 11 of it’s state affiliates against the newly created “Authority” and the Federal Trade Commission, which is tasked with nothing more than rubber stamping their rules.
The government shouldn’t be able to give federal power to industry insiders to pick the winners and losers of that industry. That’s basic “nondelegation doctrine.”
But even more so, it’s a violation of core American principles.