The American Action Forum (AAF) is out with a new report about the Obama administration's unsuccessful efforts to reduce regulations. The findings are jaw-dropping.
In 2011 and 2012, President Obama signed executive orders that forced agencies to reduce regulatory burdens.
AAF's director of regulatory policy, Sam Batkins, reviews the White House's recent Retrospective Review of Regulations, and finds the administration's efforts have actually increased regulatory burdens. Batkins notes that "executive agencies have added more than $14.7 billion in regulatory costs and 13.4 million paperwork hours."
President Obama's executive orders required cabinet agencies to remove redundant regulations. Instead, their retrospective reports added to regulatory costs and burdens.
Of those reporting, two agencies—the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Commerce—reduced the cost of their regulatory burdens by a combined $6,000,000. The remainder increased their burdens by $14,759,000,000. That's a net $14,765,000,000 increase across agencies.
Only the State Department decreased its paperwork burden hours. The remainder of those reporting increased theirs. The net increase is 13,490,916 in paperwork hours. That's an increase of about 1,500 years of paperwork per year.
The Department of Health and Human Services is "responsible for 81 percent of the net cost increase and 32 percent of the net paperwork surge," Batkins finds.
One notable burden is HHS's “Head Start Performance Standards," which "adds $928 million in annualized costs and more than 470,000 paperwork burden hours." Batkins explains that, "[a]ccording to the agency’s own math, it could also result in 1,400 to 4,400 teachers losing their jobs and more than 12,800 students losing services."
Rather than review their regulations annually, many agencies just cut and paste their findings from one report to the next. Batkins found that an "average 86.6 percent of the regulations contained in the most recent report were listed in past reports."
This seems to suggest regulations are such an overwhelming and oppressive force, that not even the agencies themselves can manage to review the requirements - let alone fulfill them, as agencies expect Americans to do.
Even worse, as Batkins notes, "[w]ith all of the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, it couldn’t manage to develop a single new reform initiative?"
The report finds the Obama administration's retrospective has been increasing regulations under the name of “eliminating red tape.”
Senator Jeff Sessions is worried that the adoption of the Trans-Pacific Partnership would lead to an "historic international regulatory Commission" that would eoncmpass 90 percent of the world's GDP. He's concerned that it would "[create] a self-governing and self-perpetuating Commission with extraordinary implications for American workers and American sovereignty."
Hillary Clinton took a strong position in support of so-called net neutrality in an appearance yesterday evening in Silicon Valley:
"For the FCC to do what they want to do, to try to create net neutrality as the norm, they have to have a hook to hang it on," Clinton said. She said it's the only hook the FCC's got. But that'd she'd vote for regulating the Internet.
Republican senators Mike Lee, Ben Sasse, and Rand Paul have all been high profile opponents of the Obama administrations current plan to regulate the internet -- in particular, Lee has called the regulation a government "takeover" of the internet and says it amounts to a "a massive tax increase on the middle class, being passed in the dead of night without the American public really being made aware of what is going on.”
Mary Cheh, who represents a leafy, affluent, embassy-filled section of Washington, doesn’t fit anyone’s image of a free-market reformer. A member of the D.C. Council since 2007, the sixty-something’s dress and manner are those of the Harvard-educated law professor she is. Many of her legislative priorities—free breakfast programs and green energy—could come from the playbook of any urban progressive.
What difference will it make if the Republicans win the Senate and hold the House in November? The House can already block Democratic legislation Republicans do not like, and President Obama would still be able to veto Republican legislation he does not like. The Republicans are talking of a positive, problem-solving agenda.
Celebrating a fourth birthday and growing nicely. That’s the story of the Dodd-Frank law, designed to end a “too big to fail” banking system that forced taxpayers to bail out bankers who took not only their own banks but the entire financial system to the verge of collapse, and brought on a record recession. Dodd-Frank, which weighed in at over 2,000 pages at birth, has since put on 14,000 pages of implementing regulations, with more to come.
Conflate two separate issues and you get one policy error. That is what too many opponents of carbon taxes are doing, getting caught up in the argument about climate change, which really has nothing to do with the case for a carbon tax. That case is that such a tax can make growth-inducing tax reform easier to achieve, and reduce the need for an expansion of the regulatory state, while protecting the competitiveness of our industries.
"The dinosaurs surviving the crunch” was how Stephen Sondheim described women living an outdated lifestyle and grimly aware that “everybody dies.” If Sondheim had the slightest interest in the less exalted subject of economics, he would apply that descriptive to a host of companies and industries trying to beat the hooded man with a scythe, aided by their regulators.
The antitrust lawyers I have served as a consultant often have the same complaint: Their clients don’t know when to shut up. This was certainly true of the executives of US Airways and American Airlines as they touted the virtues of their proposed $11 billion merger. US Airways president Scott Kirby reportedly said consolidation allows airlines to raise fees and charge for baggage, and the company’s CEO, Doug Parker spoke of the virtues of “rationalization,” which antitrust enforcers have always taken to mean higher prices and consumer harm. Now that the Justice Department has decided to sue to stop the merger, the airlines’ lawyers say these comments are taken out of context.
The Scrapbook neglected to follow its usual practice last week and had a look at the reader comments under an online New York Times article. The Times piece covered the growing popularity of so-called electronic cigarettes (which Ethan Epstein chronicled in these pages a few weeks back), noting that people are increasingly using the devices in public places like restaurants and bars. Unlike real cigarettes, e-cigs don’t contain tobacco and don’t emit carcinogenic smoke—they only expel water vapor—so they don’t cause any harm to nonusers.
Even if you're Warren Buffett--billionaire investor, founder of Berkshire Hathaway, and Democratic donor--it helps to have friends in high places. Through his holding company MidAmerican Energy, Buffett is currently atttempting to purchase NV Energy, a Nevada-based energy firm, and he's getting some big help from that state's senior U.S. senator, Majority Leader Harry Reid.