“Don’t believe everything you hear.” Many rumors “are unfounded.” That’s what Barack Obama had the audacity to tell farmers on his recent tour in the Midwest after they complained about federal regulations.
The president’s attempts to buffalo farmers with false assurances come in a record year of federal regulations. “In the first six months of 2011, some 15 major regulations were issued, with annual costs exceeding $5.8 billion, and one-time implementation costs approaching $6.5 billion.” These figures are stated in an extensive report on federal red tape assembled by the Heritage Foundation.
The administration announced Aug. 23 it would soon release plans for trimming hundreds of what Obama called “dumb” rules. Obama’s Regulatory Czar is Cass Sunstein, an academic who believes in libertarian paternalism and whose adoration for FDR knows no bounds. The new regulatory backtrack was said to save $10 billion over 10 years. But they don’t include some of the most objectionable regs, such as rules to reduce carbon emissions and requirements supposedly to protect the public from financial and health abuses. The Chamber of Commerce praised the regulatory review, but said it didn’t go far enough.
The Obama administration “imposed 76 new major regulations from January 2009 to mid FY 2011, with annual costs of $38 billion,” the Heritage analysis said. “This flood of red tape will undoubtedly persist, as hundreds of new regulations stemming from the monstrous Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, from Obamacare, and from the EPA’s global warming crusade advance though the regulatory pipeline.” This all “further weakens an anemic economy and job creation.”
Federal regulations are not only disrupting business, they are entering Americans’ lives, including how we heat our homes, light our rooms, what food we buy, how we cook it, the mattresses we sleep on, the toys our children play with, etc. Regulatory costs for businesses are passed on to consumers in such items as toilets, showerheads, cars, washing machines and dryers, ovens and refrigerators, TV sets, even bicycles.
No official accounting of total regulatory costs exists, the Heritage study said. Estimates vary. Unlike accounting of tax revenues, the study says “an oft-quoted estimate of $1.75 trillion annually is about twice the amount of individual income taxes collected last year.”
The cost burden imposed by new regulations can be tracked, however, the Heritage analysis said, and “it is growing substantially.” Fiscal 2010 saw record increases, and they have risen in 2011. From the start of the Obama reign to mid-FY 2011, regulators have stuck the American citizenry with $38 billion in new costs, “more than any comparable period on record.”
Added costs include $1.8 billion a year for compliance and a one time implementation cost of $5.2 billion from new emission limits on industrial and commercial boilers and incinerators. The EPA said it would postpone the effective date pending its reconsideration. But the rules are still on the books, the Heritage study said. And they will be, pending judicial review or EPA reconsideration. Until then, business is constrained from “expansion, developing new products or making efficiency improvements.”
Included also are five sets of complicated regulations put forward by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to control financial institutions. The SEC calculated the cost of “outside” professional services that will be required to comply with three of the rules, but didn’t include the cost of 317,962 hours of “internal work” compliance which the regulation requires.
When ObamaCare became law, some Republicans charged that the IRS would have to hire 16,500 more agents to enforce the law—that is, collect the fines from those who refused to buy health insurance. But a ruffled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said adamantly it would only take 12,000 more employees. What a relief!
Among the many regulations, fuel economy and emission standards are included for cars and light trucks at an annual cost of $10.8 billion. Add to this $1.2 billion cost for constraints on “short sales” of securities, plus a tsunami of other Dodd-Frank regs still to come out.
Regulations also swell the government regulatory workforce, which was estimated to rise to 281,832 in 2011. The George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center keeps tabs on such matters.
One set of regulations of which the administration must be very proud is special accommodations for foreign workers who are hired as goat and sheep herders in the U.S. The regulations assure their living quarters are government approved and comfy. The rules for herders, required by the U.S. Labor Department, apply to sleeping quarters, food storage, lighting, laundry, even cell phones.
When Obama was on his Midwest town hall tour earlier this month, a corn and soybean farmer told the president that nature itself offers plenty of challenges. “Please don’t challenge us with more rules and regulations from Washington. We would prefer to start our day in a tractor cab or combine cab rather than filling out forms and permits to do what we’d like to do.”
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