Heritage: Top 10 Worst Federal Rules of 2011

Heritage Foundation:

Hindsight is supposed to be 20/20, but looking back on the past 12 months, it’s tough to see any sense in many of the Administration’s regulatory missteps. Of course, there are bound to be a few howlers when government churns out more than 3,500 rules in a year, including dozens unleashed by Obamacare, Dodd–Frank, and the perpetually errant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But by any standard, 2011 brought forth a remarkable number and variety of regulatory blunders.

Fair warning: Our Top 10 list may prove fatal to any bit of faith in government as a “fixer,” if faith somehow has managed to survive despite all evidence to the contrary. In any event, it should steel our resolve to fight the Leviathan in the coming year.

1. The Dim Bulbs Rule. As per Congress, of course, for issuing an edict to phase out the incandescent light bulbs on which the world has relied for more than a century. With the deadline looming in 2012, Americans by the millions spent the past year pressing lawmakers to lift the ban which, contrary to eco-ideology, will kill more American jobs than create “green” ones. (Congress evidently overlooked the fact that the vast majority of fluorescent bulbs are manufactured in China.) The 2012 appropriations bill barred the use of funds to enforce the regulation, but it remains in law.

2. The Obamacare Chutzpah Rule. The past year was marked by a slew of competing court rulings on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the cornerstone of Obamacare. The law requires U.S. citizens to obtain health insurance or face financial penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Service. Never before has the federal government attempted to force all Americans to purchase a product or service. To allow this regulatory overreach to stand would undermine fundamental constitutional constraints on government powers and curtail individual liberties to an unprecedented degree.

3. The Nationalization of Internet Networks Rule. Regulations that took effect on November 1 prohibit owners of broadband networks from differentiating among various content in managing Internet transmissions. (In other words, the Federal Coercion Communications Commission effectively declared the broadband networks to be government-regulated utilities.) The FCC imposed the “network neutrality” rule despite explicit opposition from Congress and a federal court ruling against it. The rule threatens to undermine network investment and increase online congestion.

4. The Equine Equality Rule. As of March 15 (the Ides of March, no less), hotels, restaurants, airlines, and the like became obliged to modify “policies, practices, or procedures” to accommodate miniature horses as service animals. According to the Department of Justice, which administers the rule, miniature horses are a “viable alternative” to dogs for individuals with allergies or for observant Muslims and others whose religious beliefs preclude canine accompaniment.

5. The Smash Potatoes Regulation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed stricter nutrition standardsthat would prohibit school lunch ladies from serving more than one cup per week of potatoes per student. Instead, schools would be required to provide more dark green, orange, and dry bean varieties (think kale) in order to foster vegetable diversity. The cafeteria mandate will affect more than 98,000 elementary and secondary schools at a cost exceeding $3.4 billion in the next four years.

6. The Bring on the Blackouts Rule. The EPA is proposing to force power plants to reduce mercury by 90 percent within three years—at an estimated cost of $11 billion annually. A significant number of coal-fired plants will actually exceed the standard—by shutting down altogether. Indeed, grid operators, along with 27 states, are warning that the overly stringent regulations will threaten the reliability of the electricity system and dramatically increase power costs. Just like candidate Obama promised.

7. The Wal-Mart Windfall Amendment. One of hundreds of new regulations dictated by the Dodd–Frank financial regulation statute requires the Federal Reserve to regulate the fees that financial institutions may charge retailers for processing debit card purchases. The prospect of losing more than $6 billion in annual revenue is prompting financial institutions to hike fees on a variety of banking services to make up for the much smaller payments from stores. Thus, consumers are picking up the tab for retailers’ big regulatory score.

8. The Plumbing Police Rule. The U.S. Department of Energy began preparations for tightening the waterefficiency standards on urinals. It’s all spelled out in excruciating detail in the Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products Other Than Automobiles, which also regulates the efficiency of toilets, faucets, and showers. And refrigerators and freezers, air conditioners, water heaters, furnaces, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, ovens and ranges, pool heaters, television sets, and anything else the Energy Secretary deems as electrically profligate. (Urinals also are regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which requires at least one urinal for every 40 workers at a construction site for companies with less than 200 employees and one for every 50 workers where more than 200 are employed. The Americans with Disabilities Act also delineates the proper dimensions and placement of bowls.)

9. The Chill the Economy Regulation. The EPA issued four interrelated rules governing emissions from some 200,000 boilers nationwide at an estimated capital cost of $9.5 billion. These boilers burn natural gas, fuel oil, coal, biomass (e.g., wood), refinery gas, or other gas to produce steam, which is used to generate electricity or provide heat for factories and other industrial and institutional facilities. Under the so-called Boiler MACT, factories, restaurants, schools, churches, and even farms would be required to conduct emissions testing and comply with standards of control that vary by boiler size, feedstock, and available technologies. The stringency and cost of the new regulations provoked an outpouring of protest, including 21 governors and more than 100 Members of Congress. On May 18, the EPA published a notice of postponement in the Federal Register, but the regulations remain on the books.

10.  The Unions Rule Rule. New rules require government contractors to give first preference in hiring to the workers of the company that lost the contract. Tens of thousands of companies will be affected, with compliance costs running into the tens of millions of dollars—costs ultimately borne by taxpayers. The rule effectively ensures that a non-unionized contractor cannot replace a unionized one. That’s because any new contractor will be obliged to hire its predecessors’ unionized workers and thus be forced by the “Successorship Doctrine” to bargain with the union(s).

Editor: Newt Gingrich for President

by Political Arena Editor Chuck Norton

“Newt balanced the budget and got the policy heavy lifting done while he was in office and it hasn’t been done since he left.” – J.C. Watts

When you cut out all the fluff, feelings, and BS, that is where the rubber meets the road isn’t it? Leave it to J.C. to nail it in a way which should be totally obvious, but often seems obscured.

As so many of our readers know, ideologically I am dead center between the TEA Party and what is so often referred to as the “GOP Establishment”. I have a regular dialogue with both sides and for the most part have been able to garner the respect of both sides.  The GOP needs results and the TEA Party and independents are demanding it. While other candidates promise, Newt has “been there and done that”. Newt also has the ability to sell and agenda and use the Bully Pulpit to move the Overton Window back to traditional Americanism.

Newt should pick a CEO, governor, or a social conservative leader to be his running mate.

This is not to say that several of the other candidates would not make a far better President than the current occupant. This editor is very fond of several of the candidates and is acquainted with some of them, but as indicated, results are demanded and nothing else will do.

Newt Gingrich: Do What Reagan Did

Newt talks about Reagan’s example and explains how Reagan’s example set the path for a genuine American recovery. Be sure to read every last word.

Newt Gingrich:

Officially, the recession ended two and a half years ago. President Obama tells us the economy has been moving in the right direction since June 2009.

Few will take solace in that statistic. Americans are suffering. For nearly three years, nearly one in 10 have been out of work. Almost double that number are either underemployed—working part time when they would rather be full time—or have simply given up looking.

Historically in America, the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery. By historical standards, we should be completing the second year of a booming recovery. Recall that, just like President Obama, President Reagan inherited a terrible economy when he took office. But Reagan enacted historic income tax rate cuts, regulatory reforms and spending controls. The recession officially ended in November 1982, and in the following two and a half years the unemployment rate dropped 3.6 percentage points, more than eight million Americans went to work at new jobs, and the longest period of economic growth in American history commenced.

Mr. Obama’s policies have been just the opposite: trillion dollar stimulus-spending waste, a government takeover of the health-care system, an activist EPA attacking businesses, and demonization of job creators. The president barnstorms the country advocating tax increases for investors, entrepreneurs and small businesses, teeing up the country for another crash in 2013 when the Bush-era income tax rates expire. Meanwhile, America’s businesses continue to suffer from the highest business tax rate in the industrialized world, with no relief in sight.

This nightmare will not end until Reagan-era economic policies are restored: tax reform, a sound dollar and smarter regulations. If they are, within a year the American economy will take off on another historic boom.

First, we must reduce the federal business tax rate to 12.5%, eliminate the capital gains tax as a double tax on capital income, and eliminate the estate tax. We must allow immediate expensing (writing off the costs in one year) for investment in capital equipment so American workers can continue to be the most productive in the world, using the latest and most advanced technology.

On the personal income side, I propose an optional 15% flat tax, allowing those American taxpayers who prefer it to file their returns on a postcard. This will save close to half a trillion dollars annually in tax-compliance costs.

These tax reforms are not designed to be revenue-neutral, but to maximize job creation, wages and economic growth. We will balance the budget with the revenues from such growth and spending cuts. That would include breaking up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into manageable, entirely private companies, with no government guarantees.

Second, the dollar needs to be stabilized by establishing a price rule for the Federal Reserve to follow in its conduct of monetary policy. This will help stabilize international exchange rates, resolve the ongoing cycles of global financial crises and investment bubbles, short-circuit the run-up in gas and food prices, and unlock the frozen credit system.

Third, the burden of regulatory costs on American businesses and consumers has to be lightened. Reflecting my unwavering opposition to cap and trade and any other form of tax on energy or carbon, we must replace the Environmental Protection Agency with an Environmental Solutions Agency. We must move from antigrowth confrontation with business to collaboration with job creators, states and local communities to achieve better results. We must repeal Dodd-Frank and its “too big to fail” big-bank bailouts, and repeal Sarbanes-Oxley, restoring Wall Street as the world’s pre-eminent equities market.

We can slash further trillions in taxes, spending and regulatory costs by repealing and replacing ObamaCare with Patient Power, involving no individual insurance mandate and no job-killing employer mandate. We must also modernize the Food and Drug Administration, recognizing the need to get lifesaving medicines and technologies to patients faster and to remove cost barriers to their rapid development.

My economic plan includes sweeping entitlement reforms that would altogether cut federal spending in half over the long run, entirely solving the nation’s entitlement and fiscal crisis. Reforms include starting and then expanding personal savings, investment and insurance accounts until they ultimately finance all the benefits now financed by the payroll tax—and eventually displacing that tax entirely. The successful federal welfare reform of 1996 should be expanded to every federal means-tested welfare program, close to 200 or more, block-granting them to the states and ultimately saving trillions.

We also need an American Energy Plan, freeing the energy industry to maximize production of all forms of American energy, ensuring the reliable supply of low-cost gasoline, diesel, natural gas, coal and other energy sources essential to fueling a booming economy.

These policies will ignite another record-smashing, and world-leading, 25-year economic boom, restoring the American Dream and rebuilding the America we love.