regulations

America’s Ever-Expanding Regulatory Swamp

Maybe I’m biased because I mostly work on fiscal policy, but it certainly seems feasible to come up with rough estimates for the damage caused by onerous taxes and excessive spending.

On a personal level, for instance, we have a decent idea of how much the government takes from us and we know the aggravation of annual tax returns. And we tend to have some exposure to government bureaucracies, so we’re familiar with the concept of wasteful spending.

But how do you quantify the cost of regulation and red tape? Well, here are some very large numbers to digest.

Americans spend 8.8 billion hours every year filling out government forms.

The economy-wide cost of regulation is now $1.75 trillion.

For every bureaucrat at a regulatory agency, 100 jobs are destroyed in the economy’s productive sector.

The Obama Administration added $236 billion of red tape in 2012 alone.

In other words, the regulatory burden is enormous, but I worry that these numbers lack context and that most of us don’t really grasp how we’re hurt by government intervention.

So let’s look at some additional data.

Obama Lecture on Playing by the Rules is Utter Hypocrisy

In a recent weekly address, Barack Obama uttered ten words which every conservative in the nation immediately recognized as absolute truth in a constitutional republic which provides for separation of powers among the branches and levels of government. To quote, Obama stated “You don’t get to pick which rules you play by.”

His statement was made regarding the growing trend of “inversion,” whereby U.S. multinational corporations merge with foreign companies and move their headquarters overseas in order to avoid the double taxation that the United States levies on its companies, a burden suffered by the corporations of no other industrialized nation, which therefore puts American businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

The irony of those words, coming from THAT man, should be lost on no one with an IQ above room temperature.

Obama, more than any president in American history, has shown complete and utter contempt for any constitutional restrictions on his power, and openly mocks and taunts those that express deep concerns for his brazen disregard for the tradition of compromise (as ugly as the process is to get to that end point) that has guided our government for more than two centuries.

Obama talks about having “a phone and a pen,” a reference to his numerous Executive Orders which often bleed over into powers reserved for the other branches of government. Obama has repeatedly claimed this year that he will act unilaterally when Congress refuses to give him his way, and when Congress protests such abuse of power, he glibly responds, “Sue me!”

Hey, Barack Obama, businesses are moving overseas because of a terrible tax climate made worse by you

There’s been a lot of talk lately from President Barack Obama and administration officials about “economic patriotism.” They say that corporations shouldn’t be allowed to move overseas to escape paying the corporate income tax.

“Even as corporate profits are higher than ever, there’s a small but growing group of big corporations that are fleeing the country to get out of paying taxes,” President Obama said at a stop in Los Angeles on Thursday. “They’re keeping, usually, their headquarters here in the U.S. They don’t want to give up the best universities and the best military and all the advantages of operating in the United States. They just don’t want to pay for it. So they’re technically renouncing their U.S. citizenship.”

Earlier this month, President Obama suggested that Congress (read: Republicans) lack “economic patriotism” to work with his administration on issues the country faces. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew dropped the same term in a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) as he urged Congress to pass legislation to end corporate inversions.

“What we need as a nation is a new sense of economic patriotism, where we all rise or fall together. We know that the American economy grows best when the middle class participates fully and when the economy grows from the middle out,” Lew wrote in the letter to Wyden. “We should not be providing support for corporations that seek to shift their profits overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”

Obama’s ludicrous, anti-consumer cap and trade regulations aren’t actually about the environment

It’s been overshadowed by the continuing coverage of the Bergdahl-Taliban five swap, but reports began to surface this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the direction of the White House, has begun pushing new carbon rules on existing coal plants that aim to reduce their emissions by 30% from 2005 levels.

Call it cap and trade by regulatory fiat:

Analysts widely expect the final rule to give states the option of joining or creating cap-and-trade programs, which allow companies to trade credits for emissions. The draft released on Monday does not discuss that possibility.

“There are no commercially viable [carbon capture and storage methods]. That’s why we expect cap-and-trade,” said Michael Ferguson, an associate director at S&P who covers merchant energy producers.

At risk of drawing the ire of the climate change true believers, there was a reason the climate change cap and trade legislation failed a few years back, and it wasn’t because evil, bible-thumping conservatives are convinced mankind has no effect on the environment (for the record, we do. But our carbon emissions, for example, are pretty negligible compared to things like decaying organic matter and volcanoes).

No, it was defeated in the Senate because many Democrats that voted against hailed from states that relied on jobs related to the coal industry. And if there’s one thing that moves a politician, it’s the voice of a united constituency.

But not to be deterred, the Obama administration used the EPA and the Clean Air Act to declare carbon emissions a health hazard that must be regulated:

Barack Obama is the middle class’ biggest enemy

Some of the best intentioned among us may think regulations indeed serve a greater purpose, after all, certain companies are only in it to make as much as they can with as little effort as they can! Somebody should certainly make sure they are working under strict rules so this type of predatory behavior can be avoided and consumers can be protected.

Well, that’s everything regulations promise to do and the exact opposite of what they actually achieve.

A recent study carried out by American Action Forum demonstrated that the increase in consumer prices under the Obama administration is directly linked to the surge in the number of regulations it has adopted.

The study shows that since 2009, this administration has imposed at least 36 new regulations that range from new fuel-efficiency standards, which resulted in an increase in the price of automobiles by $91, to the cost of mortgages, which has risen to an abysmal $362 annually.

ObamaCare, this administration failure disguised as health care law, has also increased the prices of health care insurance.

Disgraced ex-IRS official will not get immunity in exchange for testimony

When disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner appears before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, she will not receive immunity for any testimony she gives, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA):

“Her attorney indicates now that she will testify. We’ve had a back and forth negotiation,” Issa told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “But quite frankly, we believe that evidence that we’ve gathered causes her in her best interest to be summoned to testify.”

The evidence that Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has obtained are emails showing that Lerner drafted the proposed IRS regulations that would restrict political speech of nonprofit groups that engage in public policy discussions. The regulations are currently being considered by the IRS.

Wallace asked whether the House Oversight Committee offered Lerner immunity in exchange for her testimony. “We did not,” Issa replied, adding later that he believes the disgraced IRS official will answer all the committee’s questions about the powerful tax agencies targeting of conservative groups.

Obamacare’s Employer Mandate Delays Head-to-Head

“[The President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…” — Article II, Section 3 (The Faithful Execution Clause)

Yesterday’s announcement of additional Obamacare employer mandate delays offers us yet another occasion to turn to actual the law passed by Congress.  When the four statutory Obamacare provisions below are viewed head-to-head against the new Obama Administration/IRS regulatory guidance, it’s clear that one of these things is not like the other.

EXHIBIT I: EFFECTIVE DATE

Statutory Authority - PPACA Section 1513(d):

(d) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.

Obama Administration/IRS - Preamble to the February 10, 2014 Final Regulations (Page 106):

Section 1513(d) of the Affordable Care Act provides that section 4980H applies to months after December 31, 2013; however, Notice 2013-45, issued on July 9, 2013, provides as transition relief that no assessable payments under section 4980H will apply for 2014…Notice 2013-45 provides that the employer shared responsibility provisions under section 4980H (and the information reporting provisions) will become effective for 2015.

Obamacare, in one photo

Given this week’s news of yet another delay to yet another Obamacare regulation that just five short years ago was going to literally keep people from dying in the streets, I thought an illustration would be useful. So here it is:

flaming train

Yep. That’s it. That’s Obamacare in a nutshell.

I first saw this image linked to Obamacare by Twitter user @cuffymeh (#FF) a couple years ago during the 2012 presidential campaign when the first delays and waivers started popping up. I laughed for a good 10 minutes. It perfectly portrays everything about Obamacare in one neat, catastrophic package.

The absurdly huge amount of flame represents the massive size of the failure so far. From waivers, to delays, to implementation, to website failures, to coverage gaps, to state rebukes, to ever-sinking poll numbers. It is uniquely appropriate that there are more flames and smoke than train in the photo.

While it is, of course, a still photo, the train does have a sense of motion, but it seems like a very sluggish, hampered speed. Obamacare has moved just as slowly and ungracefully. Some of the parts that would eventually become the law started being proposed in 2007 even before the 2008 presidential campaign heated up (pun fully intended).

President Obama thinks he already saved your employer plan

At this point, everyone generally accepts that the President’s purported one-year delay in forcing you to lose your individual health insurance policy (and, more importantly, corralling you into the Obamacare exchange) was political grandstanding amounting to almost no practical benefit.  At last check, 19 states had rejected the so-called “fix.”  For those that have adopted it, congratulations on delaying the inevitable.

The Obama administration has recently tried to reframe the narrative of this fiasco by focusing on the fact that only 5% of Americans purchase an individual health insurance policy.  After all, why concern ourselves over the health plan of 14 or 15 million Americans when their sacrifices will benefit the much grander scope of universal utopia?

Obama could let you keep your plan, but he doesn’t want to

 If I like your plan, you can keep it

Last Thursday morning, President Obama issued his latest proclamation in an attempt to save face on his farcical promise.  Of course, the “relief” came far too late and with far too many restrictions to have any practical, real-world effect.

It’s become instinctive at this point to assume that every policy decision that comes from the Obama administration is a blatant violation of separation of powers.  After all, this is the administration that unilaterally delayed enforcement of Obamacare’s employer mandate in direct violation of the statutory requirements.  Many prominent commentators have immediately jumped back on this bandwagon again in this latest Obamacare edict.

But here’s the real legal low-down: President Obama and his executive agencies (HHS/DOL/IRS) have almost unlimited discretion in determining what is considered a “grandfathered health plan.”

 


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