American Elephants


Ten of the Worst Regulations of 2012—This Is Big Government. by The Elephant's Child

Regulations have flowed out of the Obama administration like trickles of water that make gushing streams and become mighty rivers. The economy is drowning in them. The rules imposed by the government have little to do with health and safety, and much to do with power and whether the government or private individuals get to make basic pocketbook and lifestyle decisions that affect their lives.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the regulators that are to blame. Congress increasingly writes laws that pass off power to unelected bureaucrats to wield broad powers to which they are not entitled. It is Congress’ job to write the bills and determine the regulation for which they are ultimately responsible, not pass it on. Each regulation has big costs for the economy in both economic growth and increased unemployment.

Here are ten of the very worst regulations from 2012, courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

1. HHS’s Contraception Mandate

The Department of Health and Human Services on Feb. 15 finalized its mandate that all health insurance plans include coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization procedures, and contraceptives. To date 42 cases with more than 110 plaintiffs are challenging the restriction on religious liberty.

2. EPA Emissions Standards

In February, the EPA finalized strict new emission standards for coal- and oil-fired electric utilities. The benefits are questionable, the majority unrelated to the emissions targeted by the regulation. Science is determining that CO2 is not the cause of climate change. The costs are an estimated $9.6 billion annually.

3. Fuel Efficiency Standards

In August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with the EPA finalized the fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, for model years 2017-2025. The rules require 54.5 mpg by 2025. Sticker prices will jump by hundreds of dollars. The climate will not change because of the standards.

4. New York’s 16-Ounce Soda Limit

NY Mayor Bloomberg pushed the NY City Board of Health to ban the sale of soda and other sweetened drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. Those who are thirsty can just buy two smaller size.

5. Dishwasher Efficiency Standards

Even the regulators admit that these DOE rules will do little (nothing) for the environment. Proponents claim they will save consumers money, cutting back on water and energy. Big increase in cost of a dishwasher, few customers will keep the dishwasher long enough to recoup the cost. Please get out of my kitchen.

6. School Lunch Standards

The Dept. of Agriculture in January published stringent nutrition standards for school lunch and breakfast programs. More than 98,000 elementary and secondary schools are affected—at a cost exceeding $3.4 billion over the next 4 years. Students are in open revolt, they hate the food.

7. Quickie Union Election Rules

The NLRB in April, issued new rules that shorten the time allowed for union-organizing elections to between 10 and 21 days. This leaves little time for employees to make a fully informed choice on unionizing. but President Obama advances the union cause at every opportunity.

8. Essential Benefits Rule

Under ObamaCare, insurers in the individual and small group markets are forced to cover services that the government deems to be essential, whether your doctor deems them essential or not. Under ObamaCare, directions will come from unaccountable bureaucrats, not your own physician.

9. Electronic Data Recorder Mandate

The National Highway Safety Administration in December issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to mandate installation of electronic data recorders (“black boxes”) in most light vehicles starting in 2014. Raises the cost of a vehicle, and invades your privacy.

10. “Simplified” Mortgage Disclosure and Servicing Rules

The New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (unneeded agency created in phony Congressional recess) released their proposal for a more “consumer-friendly” mortgage process to simplify home loans. The simplifying rules run an astonishing 1,099 pages which were followed a month later with 560 more pages for rules of mortgage servicing.  That’s what bureaucracy does.

Follow the fascination progress of government moving to control your every move. See Heritage’s funny but sad Tales of the Red Tape series on The Foundry.



He Took Over Health Care, Energy, Transportation, Housing, Finance, and Now the Nation’s Food Supply. by The Elephant's Child

Power grab. More regulatory control over the nation’s food supply in all its complexity.  New and sweeping powers to wreak havoc on small farmers. Dangerously broad, one-size-fits-all regulation that includes no checks and balances.

The U.S. Senate passed Tuesday what is called a food-safety modernization bill, S-510, which grants the Food and Drug Administration extensive new powers to recall tainted foods, increase inspections, demand accountability from food companies and oversee farming transportation and storage. The new powers would overlap the jurisdictions of the Dept. of Agriculture and other agencies that oversee food safety.

In 2006, there were 51.2 cases of confirmed food-induced bacterial contamination per 100,000 people.  By 2009 the rate had fallen to 34.8 cases per 100,000 people — 1/3 fewer. It is worth pointing out that food producers care very deeply about keeping their food free of contamination, for a case that makes people sick can destroy their business.  The bill imposes hundreds of millions of dollars of expenses on the private sector, taxpayers would have to shell out an additional $1.4 billion from 2011-2015 to pay for the FDA to do all this new regulation.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates about 25¢ out of every dollar spent in the economy. Unsurprisingly, it does nothing well.  Small farms and local and organic food outfits don’t have the profit margins to comply with the new burdens imposed by all this bureaucratic nonsense.  The House version applied even to farmers markets and roadside stands.  Big Agribusiness has leveraged government to shackle their smaller competitors.

Democrats will look at this bill and see their goals of a safer food supply.  Republicans will see the results — a bloated department forcing many small companies out of business, lots more regulation that may not do anything to improve food safety, overlapping jurisdictions with other government agencies, and no cost-benefit.  But lots more discretionary control and more unnecessary enforcement.



Could We Please Let this Crisis Go To Waste, Mr. President? by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama, on Friday, directed the government to set the first-ever mileage and pollution limits for big trucks and buses, and to tighten the rules for future cars and SUVs. He wants vehicles that run on half the fuel they use now, and give of half the “pollution.”

The nation that leads in the clean energy economy will lead the global economy, And I want America to be that nation.” Obama said.

Well, of course, this is the presidency that operates on the theme of “never letting a crisis go to waste.”  The Deepwater Horizon rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico makes everyone look at all oil askance — time to jump on some more regulation of little use.

Elsewhere, headlines in the Spanish newspaper La Gaceta:

Spain admits that the green economy sold to Obama is a ruin.

There is no “clean energy economy.”  No one, apparently except Obama, has any illusions that any regulation of CO2 emissions will do anything to lower global temperatures.  The economic case for the embrace of renewable energy has collapsed. It’s over.

President Obama has cited Spain as an exemplar of an “ecologically sound energy economy” no fewer than eight times.  Spanish economist Gabriel Calzada — has clearly established that for every green job created by the Spanish nation’s massive investment in wind and solar, that transfer of wealth to uneconomic activities has cost the economy 2.2 jobs in opportunity cost, as well as direct job losses due to the increased cost of power. The President of Spain’s National Commission of Energy, socialist Maite Costa has called Spain’s energy policies unsustainable.

Obama’s  Presidential Memorandum Regarding Fuel Efficiency Standards.  From the photo-op, Obama said:

We know that out dependence on foreign oil endangers our security and our economy.  We know that climate change poses a threat to our way of life — in fact we’re already seeing some of the  profound and costly impacts.  And the disaster in the Gulf only underscores that even as we pursue domestic production to reduce our reliance on imported oil, our long-term security depends on the development of alternative sources of fuel and new transportation technologies.

Can we do away with some of the nonsense?  We are not “addicted” to oil.  Our economy runs on oil. Wind, solar and nuclear energy produce electric power, which, at present, does not power our cars and trucks, nor will it into the foreseeable future, despite Obama’s enthusiasm for electric cars.

You will note just how the disaster in the Gulf has been turned around to somehow be a contribution to global warming, which Obama called  “a threat to our way of life.”  Sorry, the global warming scare is over — yesterday’s scam.

In spite of all the talk, there is no expansion of nuclear power.  Should a new plant be given approval at the federal level, environmentalist delaying tactics and lawsuits would take years.  Wind and solar produce energy only sporadically and must have 24/7 backup from regular gas or coal-fired plants.

For example, the Washington DC-based U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is readying a proposal to place much of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off-limits, allowing no economic development of any kind, even on Native-owned lands, which would hamstring native survival. The FWS proposal to place the nearly 1.5 million acres of ANWR’s coastal plain off-limits — could even be permanent.

Here’s another one.  The Iraqi government needed to quickly bring its oilfields online.  They desperately needed the revenues.  They selected the best in the business — Exxon-Mobil.  Three senators, John Kerry (D-Ma), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), wrote a public letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, imploring her to derail the Iraqi deal.  The Senators claimed “It is our fear that this action by the Iraqi government could further deepen political tensions in Iraq and put our service members in even great danger.”  They wanted Iraq to have no revenue until they had passed an oil revenue-sharing plan that the Senators liked.

That spooked the Iraqis. Washington politics  intruded into the political arguments in Iraq — Iraq just needed a willing partner, without the meddling of American politicians.  So they signed up with the state-owned — China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC),  which is now set for the next 20 years in Iraq.  China is busily buying up oil all over the world.

What is the President’s real aim?  Ending our reliance on oil?  Shutting down our economy?  Forcing people into public transportation? Or is it just another power grab?



A Power Grab Over Troubled Waters. by The Elephant's Child

Imagine this:  Representative James Oberstar (D-Mich.) wants to rewrite the Clean Water Act.  Back in 1972, when the law was written, even liberals respected the Constitution. They understood if you wanted the federal government to regulate the waters, you had to say “navigable”so that it was legal under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

Representative Oberstar wants to remove the word “navigable”. How do you then explain why the federal government should regulate waters that are not navigable?  And what are waters that are not navigable — mud puddles, prairie potholes, irrigation ditches, intermittent ponds?  Or bathtubs, fish ponds, fountains, on private lands — neighborhood backyards?

This isn’t the first time Oberstar has tried this.  He tried it in 2007.  He and others were not happy with Supreme Court rulings that defined the limits Washington faced over bodies of water that had no relation to navigability or commerce.   They want full federal control over all waters. Richard Baker, then a Republican congressman from Louisiana, a state filled with waterways, called the bill “the largest-ever expansion of federal power over private property.

The federal government has already deeply damaged Central Valley farmers in California by denying them water because of an “endangered” minnow — the Delta smelt.  Unemployment in the Central Valley is high in the double digits, and orchards and vines are dying for lack of water.  Is the Delta smelt really endangered?

Farmers should be particularly concerned.  Oberstar’s bill gives federal regulators the power to police farming practices and to take their land through regulatory restrictions if those practices are deemed to be in violation of the law. There is even a clause that adds “and the land that impacts it” so it could regulate everything around it.

This is a drive by the Environmental Protection Agency to expand its jurisdiction.  Most of the justification for the existence of the agency is becoming questionable.  The air is very clean, in general, so the EPA is attempting to find possible bad effects on health from, um,  particulates, anything, that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  They’re not done with CO2, but the case for controlling that is becoming questionable.  So we have a grasp for power that is sanctioned at the highest level.

Liberals understand that they have a brief window in ’09 and ’10 — they are trying to get as much enacted as possible before the November elections. They need to be stopped.




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