Thursday, April 26 , 2018, 1:38 pm | Fair 59º

 
 
 
 

David Harsanyi: Obama Isn’t Fooling Anyone on Regulations

President's plan to 'root out regulations the conflict' rings hollow

President Barack Obama penned a witty Wall Street Journal op-ed this week titled “Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System.”

In it, he extolled the virtues of a free market system. And to prove that his admiration of capitalism has nothing to do with naked political expediency, Obama signed an executive order that will “root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb.”

Sounds rather subjective, though, don’t you think? How do we gauge excessive regulation in the Age of Obama? I can’t recall a single federal program, piece of legislation or proposal in the past two years that was initiated to ease the burden on consumers or businesses. (If you know of any, please send specifics to [email protected])

Obama doesn’t have to look far, if he’s serious. Nor does he need an executive order. Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency is drafting carbon rules to force on states, even though a similarly torturous 2,000 pages on a cap-and-trade scheme intending to make power more expensive was rejected. Maybe there’s something in that pile of paper to mine.

Also, the Federal Communications Commission is shoving network neutrality in the pipeline — again, bypassing Congress — so government can regulate the Internet for the first time in history, though the commissioners themselves admit that as of now, any need for rules are based on the what-ifs of their imaginations.

There exists no legislation more burdensome and expensive than the job-crushing (not “job-killing,” because, naturally, we can’t stand for that kind of imagery) Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, formerly known as Obamacare and presently being symbolically repealed by House Republicans.

That’s for starters.

But, of course, there will be no tangible regulatory relief. The Federal Register is a codex of moral well-being, after all. Regulatory schemes are how we make life fairer, the sick healthy, the economy recession-proof and green energy a reality. It’s how we stop the rich from acting selfishly and the weak from stuffing fat kids with Sno Balls.

Last May, a New York Times story, “With Obama, Regulations Are Back in Fashion,” laid out how the administration had “pressed forward on hundreds of new mandates.” In it, we have what seems like half the White House championing the pettiest of regulations as an ethical imperative.

Our bureaucratic agencies have nearly infinite power to do good via rule-making — once they are in, that is. Keep in mind that the rule allowing “end-of-life” counseling paid for by Medicare was inserted into Obamacare after passage and only nixed after an ensuing outcry.

It, like thousands of other additions, will return.

A Small Business Administration study says total regulatory costs that businesses (and thus consumers) pay amount to about $1.75 trillion — more than all collected personal income taxes. The Competitive Enterprise Institute found in this past year that the appearance of new rules — including “major” rules that cost more than $100 million annually — had dramatically accelerated.

Which isn’t surprising.

When Obama was in a place of political comfort, the free market was a place of unhinged self-interest, unfairness and misery. Nearly all of our troubles were portrayed as a case of regulatory neglect — and nearly every dilemma was met accordingly.

Nothing’s changed but the political conditions.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >