- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
FEULNER: Breaking the regulatory stranglehold
Onerous rules suffocate freedom
Question of the Day
Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes, the saying goes. Unfortunately, the list doesn’t stop there. We can add one other inescapable component: regulations.
Think you can avoid them by, say, not owning a business? Sorry. If you’re breathing, you’re affected by regulations. Considering there are government rules for funeral homes, even the lack of a pulse won’t save you. There are thousands upon thousands of individual regulations, and the annual cost runs into the billions of dollars.
Some may say it’s businesses that pay those costs. Wrong. The costs of these regulations are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices and limited product choices. For example, the price controls that bureaucrats slapped on the fees that banks may charge to process debit-card transactions prompted banks to cancel many rewards programs and free services. It led to higher fees on checking accounts and credit cards.
In fact, there’s hardly an area of our lives that goes untouched by regulation. The rules cover many things, including refrigerators, freezers, clothes dryers, air conditioners and energy standards for fluorescent lights, to name just a few. There are testing and labeling requirements for toys, limits on automotive emissions of “greenhouse gases,” requirements for posting federal labor rules, and explicit warnings for cigarette packages. The list goes on.
Heritage Foundation analysts James Gattuso and Diane Katz recently compiled a list of the 10 worst regulations of 2012. As we begin 2013, let’s review a few of the more ridiculous rules that went into effect last year. With any luck, policymakers will adopt some common-sense reforms in the next 12 months.
* In August, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks (model years 2017-2025). The average fuel economy the rules required by 2025 is 54.5 miles per gallon. Sticker prices will soar by hundreds of dollars. “Regulators argue that the fuel savings will make up these costs,” Mr. Gattuso and Ms. Katz write. “Whether consumers want to make such a trade-off does not matter. The government has decided for them.”
* In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released its proposal for a more “consumer friendly” mortgage process. The idea was to simplify home loans. The result: 1,099 pages of rules. In August, the bureau proposed more than 560 pages of detailed rules for mortgage servicing. Far from simplifying anything, this will reduce consumer mortgage lending choices and hike costs.
* In April, the National Labor Relations Board issued rules that shorten the time allowed for union-organizing elections to between 10 and 21 days. This hardly gives employees time to make an informed decision.
* States and cities can also issue ill-conceived regulations. In September, the New York City Board of Health listened to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and banned the sale of soda and other sweetened drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, street carts and movie theaters. “New Yorkers are apparently still allowed refills, at least for now,” Mr. Gattuso and Ms. Katz write. “No word on how many New York City cops will be moved from crime prevention to monitor the city’s soda fountains.”
* In February, the Department of Health and Human Services released its mandate requiring that all health insurance plans include coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraceptives. There are no exceptions for church-affiliated schools, hospitals and charities whose religious beliefs forbid them to comply with this mandate. No wonder 42 cases with more than 110 plaintiffs are challenging this restriction on religious liberty as a violation of the First Amendment.
How can lawmakers help? They can start by requiring congressional approval of any new major regulations. They can also demand that these regulations have an expiration (“sunset”) date.
“As government expands,” President Reagan once said, “liberty contracts.” Keeping regulations under control is a very good way to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Ed Feulner is president of the Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
Get Breaking Alerts
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Russia shipping sophisticated weapons systems to Ukraine separatists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- Ted Nugent loses second casino gig for 'racist remarks'
- Let it roll: D.C. Council hits Las Vegas on taxpayer's dime, leaves $14,000 tab