Yes, someone is actually tracking the hidden economic weight of all those pesky federal regulations. Here's the startling news: It cost Americans $1.9 trillion last year to comply with all the myriad rules and protocols that are issued by the federal bureaucracy at the rate of 3,500 a year — this according to Clyde Wayne Crews, vice president for policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The regs are, in essence, like a hidden tax.
"Federal agencies crank out thousands of new regulations every year, but we have little information on the cost or effectiveness on most of them," says Mr. Crews. "There's little transparency, and no reliable source of information on exactly what benefits rules are supposed to be generating or if they are serving their intended purpose."
He adds, "The regulatory state wasn't small before, but it has grown at an alarming rate during the Obama administration. The president has said publicly he will not wait for Congress to pass legislation because he has a pen and a phone. This means the administration aims to implement policy through regulation which will add a hidden tax on every form of commerce and trickle down to all consumer."
Curious? Find the appropriately titled 87-page "Ten Thousand Commandments" after 9 a.m. Tuesday here: Cei.org/10KC
A SEAL ON RADAR
Political radar, that is. In the nation's capital Tuesday to check the lay of the legislative land and perhaps find some actionable intelligence was Larry Wilske, retired command master chief of SEAL Team Seven and now a Republican congressional candidate in California's 53rd District. He has a new mission.
"I had the privilege of serving for 30 years as a United States Navy SEAL, and it would be an honor to continue serving our country as a congressional representative," Chief Wilske tells Inside the Beltway. "In the SEAL teams, our ethos is 'Forged by Adversity.' It calls on each and every one of us to answer any call, never quit and never fail. There is a tremendous demand for leadership in America right now, and I feel this is my most important mission yet. That's why I've chosen to run for Congress."
Mr. Wilske has received the endorsement of the Republican Party of San Diego, Combat Veterans for Congress and the Latino American Political Association. He will face seven-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Susan Davis in November.
For better or worse, Secretary of State John Kerry engaged the press, activists and lawmakers after he warned in leaked comments Monday that Israel could become "an apartheid state" if peace talks with Palestinians fail. Some of that engagement was brusque, both here and abroad. The remark prompted Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, for example, to advise Mr. Kerry to resign. A review of the public reactions in the last 24 hours:
"Kerry's A-bomb makes clear: the apartheid label just won't go away" (Haaretz); "GOP slams John Kerry" (Politico); "The worse foreign policy team ever?" (The Washington Post); "Kerry's apartheid slur jeopardizes peace" (Commentary); "Kerry's apartheid comments provoke political storm" (Daily Beast); "John Kerry is getting slammed for using the A-word" (Business Insider); "Hill Republicans call on Kerry to apologize, resign" (The Hill); and "Is he right?" (The New Republic).
FOX NEWS, SCOTT BROWN, DEMOCRATS
Democrats in the Granite State are playing persistent hardball with Republican Scott Brown, now running for the U.S. Senate seat in New Hampshire. They've gotten out a calendar and examined Mr. Brown's political pedigree, following the candidate's casual comment during a recent university radio interview on Sunday that he'd made his decision to run on Valentine's Day.
It raises "potential legal questions," the determined Democrats say, suggesting Mr. Brown opted to run for office more than a month before suspending his contract as a FOX News contributor, then claimed otherwise.
"If Scott Brown really decided to run for New Hampshire's U.S. Senate seat on Valentine's Day, that means that he spent the next five weeks not being truthful with New Hampshire voters, and possibly skirted FEC regulations," says New Hampshire Democratic Party communications director Julie McClain.
"This revelation raises serious questions that Brown must answer — from day one, Brown hasn't been straight with the people of New Hampshire, and this latest news suggests that Brown's self-serving interests could have resulted in the violation of federal regulations. Scott Brown should come clean," she declares.
FOX NEWS, WOMEN, MAN
A promising debut on Fox News at high noon Monday for "Outnumbered," a daily talk show that features four women and a lone male chatting up the concerns of the day seated upon a white leather sofa on a pale yellow set. The debut featured Harris Faulkner, Sandra Smith, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Jedediah Bila and "Daily Caller" editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson.
Their opening questions: Can't a kid be a kid anymore? Is physical infidelity worse than emotional infidelity? Will the disenchanted middle class favor Republicans in the midterms? And finally: What will happen if Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren faces off with Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2016?
The new program earned predictably varied insta-reviews from viewers weighing in online, plus a sterling commentary from an unlikely source.
"You can hate Fox News all you want," wrote Washington Post culture writer Alyssa Rosenberg. "But the show's well-calibrated, juicy debut episodes was genuinely entertaining — if totally amoral — television that showed a sharp sense of how to position the personalities who were appearing on it."
GIVE THEM SPACE
Is it time for weddings in space? An antigravity cocktail hour? Business seminars on the International Space Station?
"Through a Request for Information, NASA is soliciting ideas from companies interested in using the space station and the low-Earth orbit environment in innovative ways that will develop a strong commercial market and assist the agency in achieving its exploration goals," the federal space agency has announced.
An interesting rule for prospective respondents: "Private crew participants on ISS are required to conform to the ISS code of conduct," NASA advises. Innovators have until June 30 to respond, and no more than 20 pages, please. The online address for response is complicated, but here it is nonetheless: http://go.nasa.gov/1lot8fm
POLL DU JOUR
• 67 percent of Americans say the events in Russia and Ukraine are important; 77 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents agree.
• 62 percent overall oppose sending military arms to Ukraine; 55 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents agree.
• 53 percent overall favor increasing sanctions on Russia; 55 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of independents agree.
• 40 percent overall say President Obama's response to the situation is "about right;" 22 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents agree.
• 35 percent say Mr. Obama's response is "not tough enough;" 55 percent of Republicans, 23 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of independents agree.
Source: A Pew Research Center/USA Today poll of 1,501 U.S. adults conducted April 23-27.
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