Government agencies were told to delay enacting environmental and healthcare rules, among others, according to a report from Washington Post, for fear of the role the regulations could play in the 2012 presidential election:
The White House systematically delayed enacting a series of rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to prevent them from becoming points of contention before the 2012 election, according to documents and interviews with current and former administration officials.
Some agency officials were instructed to hold off submitting proposals to the White House for up to a year to ensure that they would not be issued before voters went to the polls, the current and former officials said.
The delays meant that rules were postponed or never issued. The stalled regulations included crucial elements of the Affordable Care Act, what bodies of water deserved federal protection, pollution controls for industrial boilers and limits on dangerous silica exposure in the workplace.
The Obama Administration is taking the study of behavioral economics and government paternalism to a new level by setting up a task force to come up with ways to determine how best to influence or nudge Americans to make decisions of which it approves, via Richard Williams at Politico Magazine:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plans to introduce legislation that would empower impoverished cities to break the chains of big government tax and regulatory policies that have prevented economic opportunities.
In a speech in the heart of Detroit, arguably the most financially troubled city in the country, Paul detailed the principles behind the legislation — The Economic Freedom Zone Act — and explained that the resilience and optimism of its residents and economic freedom are a way to break the stagnation in which they currently find themselves.
“Detroit’s future…will not come from Washington. The magic of Motown is here in the city,” Paul said on Friday at the Detroit Economic Club. “It’s not in some central planner’s notebook. What Detroit needs to thrive is not Washington’s domineering hand — but freedom from big government’s mastery.”
“To thrive, Detroit needs less government and more freedom — less red-tape, less punitive taxes, more money left in Detroit,” he said. “The answer to poverty and unemployment is not another government stimulus, it’s simply leaving more money in the hands of those who earned it.”
“These ‘freedom zones’ will dramatically reduce taxes and red-tape so that Detroit businesses can grow and thrive,” he explained, noting that the idea is similar to one proposed by the late Rep. Jack Kemp (R-KY). “This bill will lower personal and corporate income taxes in Detroit to 5%. My bill will also lower the payroll tax — 2% for the employees, 2% for the employers.”
Nanny State regulators at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced late last week that it will require restaurants and other food makers to phase out the use of trans fats in their recipes, claiming that such a move will prevent heart attacks and deaths:
Heart-clogging trans fats were once a staple of the American diet, plentiful in baked goods, microwave popcorn and fried foods. Now, mindful of the health risks, the Food and Drug Administration is getting rid of what’s left of them for good.
Condemning artificial trans fats as a threat to public health, the FDA announced Thursday it will require the food industry to phase them out.
It won’t happen right away. The agency will collect comments for two months before determining a phase-out timetable. Different foods may have different schedules, depending how easy it is to find substitutes.
“We want to do it in a way that doesn’t unduly disrupt markets,” said Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods. Still, he says, the food “industry has demonstrated that it is, by and large, feasible to do.”
This ban managed to fly under the radar with all of the public focus on other stories, like the government shutdown and Obamacare, over the last month. There has been a public campaign for years to try to raise awareness to trans fats, which can be, if consumed often enough, hazardous to people’s health.
That apparently wasn’t enough for busybody regulators. The FDA contends that banning trans fats, thus eliminating public choice and personal responsibility, will prevent some 20,000 heart attacks each year and 7,000 deaths.
During his speech last week in Boston, President Barack Obama tried to sell his healthcare reform law by slamming “bad-apple” insurance companies that, in his opinion, sold health plans that weren’t up to par.
“Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received, or use minor preexisting conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy,” he said. “So a lot of people thought they were buying coverage, and it turned out not to be so good.”
After sitting on the Internet sales tax since in passed the Senate in May, House Republicans may be ready to move forward on the issue in the coming weeks, despite public opposition, as they will draft their own measure to enact what is unquestionably a tax increase:
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) is expected to release his own set of principles on the issue in the next week or two, according to sources who are closely watching the legislation.
The principles are a sign of fresh momentum for online sales tax legislation after Goodlatte and other top Republicans in the House — including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — voiced deep skepticism about the Senate-passed Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA).
Goodlatte could have chosen to bury the bill, but his decision to craft the principles shows he is serious about moving some version of the legislation forward.
The principles are expected to be broad policy statements with positions such as maintaining a simple system and not burdening businesses.
The Senate version of the Internet sales tax — the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act” — would have impose an enormous regulatory burden on small businesses, making them tax collectors for more than 9,600 jurisdictions. The measure would also lead to higher prices for consumers.
The push in Congress for the Internet sales tax may have died down some since the measure cleared the Senate back in May, but a new poll shows bipartisan opposition to the proposed measure currently stalled in the House.
The poll, commissioned by the R Street Institute and the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), found that 57% of likely voters oppose the Internet sales tax, known in Congress as the “Marketplace Fairness Act.” Only 35% support the measure. Those numbers are mostly inline with a Gallup poll released on the issue in June.
Opponents of the legislation, which is being pushed by brick-and-mortar retailers and revenue hungry state governments, point out that the tax isn’t fair at all to online retailers. They note that the measure will impose an enormous regulatory burden on small businesses, making them a tax collector for more than 9,600 jurisdictions, and lead to higher prices for consumers.
The R Street/NTU survey also shows that nearly 66% of Republicans, 56% of independents and a plurality of Democrats oppose the Internet sales tax. Among ideologies, 65% of conservatives and 55% of moderates oppose the measure. A plurality of liberal also opposed the measure, at 47/45, though that was in the polls margin of error.
Republicans have a very real shot at picking off Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), according to a poll released yesterday by Conservative Intelligence Briefing.
Landrieu, who has served in the Senate since 1997, is thought to be one of the most vulnerable Democrats facing re-election next year and the outcome of the race could determine whether Republicans take control of the chamber. But it looks like Landrieu and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) will have their work cut out for them if they hope to retain control of the seat.
“The poll, conducted for Conservative Intel last week by Harper Polling, shows the three-term senator trailing, 47 to 45 percent, against U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Republican representing most of the Baton Rouge area,” wrote David Freddoso, editor of the conservative site.
“This despite the fact that Cassidy, a medical doctor who announced his candidacy in April, is not very well known throughout the state — 59 percent of the 596 likely voters surveyed did not know enough about him to form a favorable or unfavorable opinion,” he added. “Cassidy’s lead is well within the poll’s four-point margin of error, so the two should be considered in a statistical tie. On the generic ballot, 42 percent of respondents said they would prefer to elect a Republican, versus 41 percent who wanted a Democrat to win.”
Imagine that you’ve come up with a great idea to build a niche in the rental car industry that brilliantly minimizes the typical overhead costs that most rental car companies incur. The business is taking off and all seems to be going great when, of course, regulators start asking questions.
That’s what happened to three incredibly talented teenagers in San Francisco. The trio, all of whom had been offered admission to prestigious schools in the northeast, had started a rental car business, FlightCar, in which they offered incentives to travelling passengers to let them rent their vehicles while they were out of town to other travelers.
Earlier this week, ABC News noted that the teens had got the attention of other rental car companies which in-turn complained to regulators. Their business is now threatened under absurd complaints of “unfair competition”:
CEO Rajul Zaparde, 18, one of FlightCar’s co-founders, tells ABC News the company already has signed up 1,400 owners and has arranged 1,500 rentals.
Until Zaparde hit rental car paydirt, he had been headed to Harvard. Now he and co-founders Shri Graneshram, 19, and Kevin Petrovic, 19, have launched a second operation at Boston’s Logan Airport.
Foes of FlightCar, however, have started to shoot back.
It’s easy to see how traditional rental companies might not be amused to have their prices undercut. But San Francisco International is crying foul, as well.
Doug Yakel, public information officer for SFO, tells ABC News that FlightCar refuses to play by the rules that govern other rental car companies. It doesn’t pay the same fees, he says, and it doesn’t abide by the same regulations.
Last month was the third anniversary of the Durbin amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Before the law, banks were charging 44 cents per debt card transaction. But this amendment, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), capped the fee that banks could charge for debit card usage, and consumers have paid the price.
Though it was a praised as a win for consumers, the effect of the Durbin amendment has been for banks to seek revenue they’ve lost because of the price control on the fee by shifting the burden onto account holders — either by eliminating free checks accounts, rewards programs, and/or increasing other account holder-related fees.
Writing last week at Forbes, Timothy Lee, Senior Vice-President of Legal and Public Affairs for the Center for Individual Freedom, explained the Durbin amendment “cost banks over $8 billion in the first year alone.” Lee notes these consequences have caused former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the House sponsor of the financial reform law, to support it repeal:
How disastrous has the Durbin Amendment proven? Well, even Barney Frank, the famously hyper-regulatory coauthor of Dodd-Frank itself, acknowledged that the amendment harms consumers rather than helps them. Frank also supported legislative measures to revisit it, adding, “I believe that a free market approach in this area will be better for the economy and all concerned parties than the current system.”
When Barney Frank sings the praises of the free market as a superior alternative, it speaks volumes.