Ruined By Red Tape

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Rules, rules, and more rules. President Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget calls for a $59 billion regulatory explosion, “4.1 percent larger in real terms” than in 2010, with a federal phalanx of almost 284,000 regulators, according to Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This regulatory chokehold will likely bind the economy with red tape for decades to come.

The latest assault on our enterprise system, the Dodd-Frank financial regulation act, was not-so-fondly described by the Competitive Enterprise Institute July 15 as “massively costly, counterproductive, and possibly unconstitutional” imposing mandates on nearly every type of business except those government-sponsored enterprises at the root of the current economic crisis (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

Back in the innocent days of 2008, a group of distinguished scholars, meeting at the public policy think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, concluded: for the incoming Obama Administration, the “tremendous dilemma” will be regulatory policy. Of the many challenges awaiting Barack Obama, “repairing the national economy is the greatest,” said a summary of the conference. And at the center of the debate over the causes of and cures for the housing and financial market disorder is the “widespread belief that deregulation is the culprit.” The challenge is to avoid regulatory proposals that are “likely to do more harm than good.” Democrats will be pushing for greater regulation, but Obama’s economic team — Larry Summers and colleagues — are not going to be very receptive to a massive program that’s going to re-regulate the economy. How misguided that assumption was. Lawrence Summers, Obama’s chief economic adviser, is no true conservative. He told reporters in February, for example, without cracking a smile, that increasing taxes is a great way to spur growth.

In his first month in office, President Obama “invoked his unilateral authority to revoke a significant number of Bush Administration policies…” indicating Obama would “impose a greater degree of centralized authority and management than has been typical [even] of Democratic Administrations,” according to Venable LLP, a law firm involved in public policies. How he will exercise greater centralized control will be “dominated by White House policy ‘czars’ in areas of particular importance to the President,” the firm said predicatively.

OMB Watch, a non-profit organization, said in February 2009: Obama will pay particular attention to any recommendations on cost-benefit analysis in light of Obama’s “presumed controversial choice” for Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator. “Obama is expected to nominate University of Chicago Law Professor Cass Sunstein to the post. The federal regulatory process is managed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). OIRA is part of the President’s Office of Management and Budget. Its responsibilities include reviewing draft regulations and developing Administration policies involving regulations.

Now in office, Sunstein is charged with signing off on all major proposed regulations. He stoutly supports cost-benefit analysis to assess regulations

despite its improvision and the ease with which it is manipulated to achieved prefered policy outcomes…He supports the centalization of authority over regulatory decisions in the White House—OIRA in particular, according to the July 19 report of Undernews, the online report of the Progressive Review. Sunstein, the report added, is an ardent advocate of cost-benefit analysis and has written that agencies need guidance from OIRA…to do the analysis correctly.

When Sunstein was nominated to head the OIRA, the Rational Capitalist Website May 5 said that his views are completely antithetical to the principle of individual rights upon which this nation was founded.

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  • Anthony Rose

    As the EU knows and uses and abuses, regulation = authority = power over the people.

    Any regulation. The more, the better. Tie the people up until they can't move.

    And as a bonus, use all their money doing it.

    The road to communist dictatorship is paved with good regulations.