- - Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Federal bureaucrats can be thankful that President Obama is giving them lots of work. There’s nothing like job security at Thanksgiving time.

The Pilgrims never had it so good.

Mr. Obama’s cornucopia of 3,415 proposed new regulations was announced just in time for the holiday. His first five years of regulations are already harvested. They gobble up $73 billion annually from our economy, according to The Heritage Foundation. The new red tape will add billions more.

Issuing that massive red tape agenda means full employment for regulators.

There also are lots of turkeys in Mr. Obama’s agenda. Plus stuffing. What a feast!

Fortunately, government will protect us from overeating. New regulations require calorie labels not only for restaurants, but also for vending machines. Plus fast-food chains, movie snack bars (including the popcorn), pizza deliveries, and self-serve food bars in stores. All are courtesy of Obamacare’s small print.

And that means new jobs as the Food and Drug Administration hires its Food Police to enforce these labels. The Mayflower Compact has given way to the Willpower Compact. You will be nagged every time you feel hungry. But give thanks that home-cooked meals are not covered by the new label regulations. Yet. For now, you must guess about the caloric intake when you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner.

Also stuffed in among the 3,415 proposed new regulations are environmental rules to raise your electric bill and increase the prices of appliances, from home furnaces and air-conditioners to lamps; restrictions on pre-paid debit cards; more regulations on tobacco; new TSA credential guidelines for maritime workers (“boater ID”); requirements that boats be disability-friendly; and an EPA power grab over all types of water — probably including your saliva at that mouth-watering Thanksgiving dinner.

It would be ingratitude to worry about the estimated $100 billion annual costs, as calculated by the American Action Forum. Instead, think of Mr. Obama’s regulation feast as job-creation and protection for government workers.

Do bureaucrats need more job protection? Only a Scrooge would ask such a question. (Whoops! Wrong holiday!)

As a classic USA Today headline once proclaimed: “Federal workers more likely to die than lose jobs.” At many agencies, the paper wrote, “Death — rather than poor performance, misconduct or layoffs — is the primary threat to job security.”

The Government Accountability Office reported in January on the size of the bountiful harvest for federal workers. From 2004 to 2012, says the GAO, “compensation for each full-time equivalent position grew by an average of 1.2 percent per year, from $106,097 in 2004 to $116,828 in 2012.” To that, add the benefits, which “rose at a rate of 1.9 percent per year.”

Now that is reason for workers to be grateful! Their celebrations over pay and benefits are unlikely to be interrupted by savage bosses. A scant 0.5 percent of federal workers are fired each year, compared to 3.0 percent in the private sector. Just under 12,000 are terminated annually from a federal workforce of 2.1 million (a number that excludes Postal Service employees).

Despite the Veterans Administration scandal of putting patients on phantom waiting lists, only five mid-level people have lost their jobs. The VA secretary says another 1,000 might be fired. Maybe. Someday. Federal civil-service laws protect them with a tortured massively expensive maze of delays and hearings, stretching for years. That means jobs for the hearing officers.

For all of this, federal bureaucrats can give thanks. Except maybe they shouldn’t pray on government time. You can be sure that Team Obama is watching out for that, too.

Ernest Istook is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma. Get his free email newsletter by signing up at eepurl.com/JPojD.

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