Yes, I called it a surprise facetiously. Does Obama do anything that doesn’t fail (other than campaign)?
Meanwhile, two-faced government continues because, well you know, telling the real truth outloud just isn’t politically smart – especially with this administration’s record:
Two prominent Republican senators say that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told them — along with 13 other members of a bipartisan congressional delegation — that President Barack Obama’s administration is in need of a new, more assertive, Syria policy; that al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria pose a direct terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland; that Russia is arming the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and is generally subverting chances for a peaceful settlement; that Assad is violating his promise to expeditiously part with his massive stores of chemical weapons; and that, in Kerry’s view, it may be time to consider more dramatic arming of moderate Syrian rebel factions.
Kerry is said to have made these blunt assertions Sunday morning behind the closed doors of a cramped meeting room in the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, as the 50th annual Munich Security Conference was coming to a close in a ballroom two floors below. A day earlier, Kerry, in a joint appearance with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the ballroom stage, gave an uncompromising defense of the Obama administration’s level of foreign engagement: saying that,“I can’t think of a place in the world where we’re retreating.”
Really, Mr. Kerry?
Obama/Kerry’s Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria and Russian policies have been failures. Israel has taken to actually ridiculing US efforts. Saudi Arabia is said to be looking for a new patron in the Middle East.
And yet, given all of that, Kerry is still the loyal waterboy making false claims when anyone with an IQ higher than warm spit can see that during the Obama administration we’ve done nothing but retreat.
Being charitable, maybe Kerry meant we’re no longer retreating because, well, we’ve retreated about as far as is possible to retreat.
Oh, and yes, I saw the Obama/O’Reilly interview. It had the same gripping suspense and entertainment content as the Superbowl. In the case of Denver it was safety, interception, fumble, collapse. Obama was deny, deny, deny, blame, deny reality some more and then cast even more blame.
On last night’s podcast, Dale and I discussed the rise of a soft tyranny and expansion of the regulatory state in this country. Pres. Obama has, on more than one occasion, unilaterally declared the power to pick and choose what laws to enforce, or to simply change the way they are enforced, without any consequences (i.e. checks and/or balances). He’s not the first POTUS to act that way (albeit the most brazen about it), and probably won’t be the last.
The primary reason he, or any other POTUS, is even able to act this way is because of the massive regulatory apparatus at the disposal of the Executive branch. An apparatus created by Congress; one it seems strangely reluctant to rein in. As Kevin Williamson notes, “Barack Obama did not invent managerial liberalism,” and while his agenda is painfully horrendous, it’s “a good deal less ambitious than was Woodrow Wilson’s or Richard Nixon’s.” However, Obama has used the leeway provided by Congresses past and present to further expand the regulatory state. Williamson characterizes this as Obama’s “utterly predictable approach to domestic politics: appoint a panel of credentialed experts.”
His faith in the powers of pedigreed professionals is apparently absolute. Consider his hallmark achievement, the Affordable Care Act, the centerpiece of which is the appointment of a committee, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the mission of which is to achieve targeted savings in Medicare without reducing the scope or quality of care. How that is to be achieved was contemplated in detail neither by the lawmakers who wrote the health-care bill nor by the president himself. But they did pay a great deal of attention to the processes touching IPAB: For example, if that committee of experts fails to achieve the demanded savings, then the ball is passed to . . . a new committee of experts, this one under the guidance of the secretary of health and human services. IPAB’s powers are nearly plenipotentiary: Its proposals, like a presidential veto, require a supermajority of Congress to be overridden.
IPAB is the most dramatic example of President Obama’s approach to government by expert decree, but much of the rest of his domestic program, from the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law to his economic agenda, is substantially similar. In total, it amounts to that fundamental transformation of American society that President Obama promised as a candidate: but instead of the new birth of hope and change, it is the transformation of a constitutional republic operating under laws passed by democratically accountable legislators into a servile nation under the management of an unaccountable administrative state. The real import of Barack Obama’s political career will be felt long after he leaves office, in the form of a permanently expanded state that is more assertive of its own interests and more ruthless in punishing its enemies. At times, he has advanced this project abetted by congressional Democrats, as with the health-care law’s investiture of extraordinary powers in the executive bureaucracy, but he also has advanced it without legislative assistance — and, more troubling still, in plain violation of the law. President Obama and his admirers choose to call this “pragmatism,” but what it is is a mild expression of totalitarianism, under which the interests of the country are conflated with those of the president’s administration and his party.
I likened the expansion and independence of the regulatory state to 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Terminator in that these things that were created to ostensibly serve in the aid of their users developed a life, mind and interests of their own, and eventually turned on the users. A perfect example would be if the IRS scandal of targeting conservatives turns out to be completely divorced of any political direction, and instead was completely self-initiated from within the department. As James Taranto often points out, that is the far scarier scenario than the one where the White House directed the agency to target its political enemies. Corrupt politicians are bad, but they are expected and can be dealt with in a summary manner. An unelected, unaccountable and extremely powerful organization exercising its own political agenda is orders of magnitude worse.
Democracy never lasts long,” [John] Adams famously said. “It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” For liberal regimes, a very common starting point on the road to serfdom is the over-delegation of legislative powers to the executive. France very nearly ended up in a permanent dictatorship as a result of that error, and was spared that fate mostly by good luck and Charles de Gaulle’s patriotism. Long before she declared her infamous state of emergency, Indira Gandhi had been centralizing power in the prime minister’s office, and India was spared a permanent dictatorship only by her political miscalculation and her dynasty-minded son’s having gotten himself killed in a plane wreck. Salazar in Portugal, Austria under Dollfuss, similar stories. But the United States is not going to fall for a strongman government. Instead of delegating power to a would-be president-for-life, we delegate it to a bureaucracy-without-death. You do not need to install a dictator when you’ve already had a politically supercharged permanent bureaucracy in place for 40 years or more. As is made clear by everything from campaign donations to the IRS jihad, the bureaucracy is the Left, and the Left is the bureaucracy. Elections will be held, politicians will come and go, but if you expand the power of the bureaucracy, you expand the power of the Left, of the managers and minions who share Barack Obama’s view of the world. Barack Obama isn’t the leader of the free world; he’s the front man for the permanent bureaucracy, the smiley-face mask hiding the pitiless yawning maw of total politics.
I would add that, if the politics were reversed (i.e. “the bureaucracy is Right, and the Right is bureaucracy”) we would still have the same issue: an unaccountable power structure that invades every aspect of our lives. Coupled with a President who exercises that power based on political whims, and we have a serious issue:
The job of the president is to execute the law — that is what the executive branch is there to do. If Barack Obama had wanted to keep pursuing his career as a lawmaker, then the people of Illinois probably would have been content to preserve him in the Senate for half a century or so. As president, he has no more power to decide not to enforce the provisions of a duly enacted federal law than does John Boehner, Anthony Weiner, or Whoopi Goldberg. And unlike them, he has a constitutional duty to enforce the law.
So, one might ask (as Dale did last night), why isn’t the President being impeached for dereliction of duty? Partisan politics is one answer (see, e.g., the failure of the Clinton impeachment). A lack of will is another. Perhaps the simplest answer, however, is that Congress is quite complicit in this expansion and abuse of the regulatory state:
Congress’s supine ceding of its powers, and the Obama administration’s usurpation of both legal and extralegal powers, is worrisome. But what is particularly disturbing is the quiet, polite, workaday manner with which the administration goes about its business — and with which the American public accepts it. As Christopher Hitchens once put it, “The essence of tyranny is not iron law; it is capricious law.”
Barack Obama’s administration is unmoored from the institutions that have long kept the imperial tendencies of the American presidency in check. That is partly the fault of Congress, which has punted too many of its legislative responsibilities to the president’s army of faceless regulators, but it is in no small part the result of an intentional strategy on the part of the administration. He has spent the past five years methodically testing the limits of what he can get away with, like one of those crafty velociraptors testing the electric fence in Jurassic Park. Barack Obama is a Harvard Law graduate, and he knows that he cannot make recess appointments when Congress is not in recess. He knows that his HHS is promulgating regulations that conflict with federal statutes. He knows that he is not constitutionally empowered to pick and choose which laws will be enforced. This is a might-makes-right presidency, and if Barack Obama has been from time to time muddled and contradictory, he has been clear on the point that he has no intention of being limited by something so trivial as the law.
I agree with Williamson that Obama has pushed the limits, but I think he lets Congress off the hook too easily. Every POTUS presses the limits. Indeed, Williamson provides the example of Nixon’s abuses, and even compares Obama favorably: “… it is impossible to imagine President Obama making the announcement that President Richard Nixon did on August 15, 1971: ‘I am today ordering a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States.’” Williamson notes that Nixon was able to make that announcement because of power invested in him by Congress. Just as Obama has been entrusted with incredible power via such instruments as the IPAB which requires a super-majority of Congress to override its decisions. While Obama is bad, clearly the issue here is that Congress isn’t doing its job either.
Recall that in Federalist #51, James Madison explained that the way the Constitution controls the new federal government, such that “the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights”, was to divide the different departments in a way that each had interests sufficiently distinct from one another so as to provide an incentive for each to jealously guard those interests and maintain their power. This system of checks and balances was meant to prevent consolidation of power in any one part of the government.
The problem we seem to have run into since then is when the two most powerful departments combine their interests and secret away their combined powers in an unaccountable regulatory apparatus, safe from the will of the electorate. That the office of POTUS would be willing to do this is to be expected, and indeed is a large part of why there was much resistance to its creation. However, that Congress has done so much to aid and abet the effort is contemptible. Unless and until Congress rights the balance, and vigorously pursues its checking role, the problem will only worsen.
That’s the question headlining a Ron Fournier article in National Journal. My first reaction was to laugh out loud. My second reaction was to wonder why it has taken all this time for someone in the press to actually ask that question.
The evidence of his lack of leadership has been on the table for 4 plus years. And for me that’s a double edged sword. On the one side, I’m happy he’s such a dismal leader because it limits what he can destroy. On the other side, especially the policy side both foreign and domestic, it has led to a decline in almost all areas. A decline a real leader will have to address when Obama is finally relegated to history.
Anyway, here’s Fournier’s take:
In March, a reporter asked Obama why he didn’t lock congressional leaders in a room until they agreed on a budget deal. Obama’s answer was based on two assumptions. First, that his opinion is supreme. Second, he can’t break the logjam. What a remarkable combination of arrogance and impotence.
"I am not a dictator. I’m the president," he said. "I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s been floating around Washington; that somehow, even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right."
Obama could still do great things. But not if he and his advisers underestimate a president’s powers, and don’t know how to exploit them. Not if his sympathizers give Obama cover by minimizing his influence. Cover to fail. Not if the president himself is outwardly and boundlessly dismissive of his critics, telling The New York Times, "I’m not concerned about their opinions."
To say the situation is intractable seems akin to waving a white flag over a polarized capital: Republicans suck. We can’t deal with them. Let’s quit.
I’m afraid they have quit—all of them, on both sides. At the White House and in Congress, most Democrats and Republicans have abandoned hope of fixing the nation’s problems. If leadership was merely about speaking to the converted, winning fights and positioning for blame, America would be in great hands. But it’s not.
Well I’m not so sure they’ve quit … or at least Obama hasn’t quit. He has no desire to persuade or do the hard work of a leader and work with Congress. Instead, where he’s headed does give lie to his claim of not being dictator. That’s precisely what he’d prefer to be. And Daniel Henninger brings you that bit of insight:
Please don’t complain later that you didn’t see it coming. As always, Mr. Obama states publicly what his intentions are. He is doing that now. Toward the end of his speech last week in Jacksonville, Fla., he said: "So where I can act on my own, I’m going to act on my own. I won’t wait for Congress." (Applause.)
The July 24 speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., has at least four references to his intent to act on his own authority, as he interprets it: "That means whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it." (Applause.) And: "We’re going to do everything we can, wherever we can, with or without Congress."
Every president since George Washington has felt frustration with the American system’s impediments to change. This president is done with Congress.
The political left, historically inclined by ideological belief to public policy that is imposed rather than legislated, will support Mr. Obama’s expansion of authority. The rest of us should not.
And Obama is engaged in the systematic demonization of the other two coequal branches of government in order to sway the public toward his dictatorial inclinations:
To create public support for so much unilateral authority, Mr. Obama needs to lessen support for the other two branches of government—Congress and the judiciary. He is doing that.
Mr. Obama and his supporters in the punditocracy are defending this escalation by arguing that Congress is "gridlocked." But don’t overstate that low congressional approval rating. This is the one branch that represents the views of all Americans. It’s gridlocked because voters are.
Take a closer look at the Galesburg and Jacksonville speeches. Mr. Obama doesn’t merely criticize Congress. He mocks it repeatedly. Washington "ignored" problems. It "made things worse." It "manufactures" crises and "phony scandals." He is persuading his audiences to set Congress aside and let him act.
So too the judiciary. During his 2010 State of the Union speech, Mr. Obama denounced the Supreme Court Justices in front of him. The National Labor Relations Board has continued to issue orders despite two federal court rulings forbidding it to do so. Attorney General Eric Holder says he will use a different section of the Voting Rights Act to impose requirements on Southern states that the Supreme Court ruled illegal. Mr. Obama’s repeated flouting of the judiciary and its decisions are undermining its institutional authority, as intended.
Clearly, Obama’s arrogance leads him to believe that a ruler is what we need, not a president. And he’s up for that job, because it doesn’t brook interference and it doesn’t require leadership. Tyranny is the the usual place people who couldn’t lead an alcoholic to a bar end up. And we’re watching that happen now.
Henninger ends his piece with a final, ironic quote:
"To ensure that no person or group would amass too much power, the founders established a government in which the powers to create, implement, and adjudicate laws were separated. Each branch of government is balanced by powers in the other two coequal branches." Source: The White House website of President Barack Obama.
Our Constitutional scholar is now involved in a process to wreck that balance and enhance executive powers to the point that he really doesn’t need Congress or the courts. And a compliant media along will the left will do everything in their power to enable the transition. Because their ideas and ideology would never pass the test of a real democracy and they have little chance of persuading the population to go along with them. So imposition is truly the only route open. That’s precisely what you’re going to see in Obama’s remaining years as president. Executive imposition of his version of laws or, if you prefer, a brand of executive lawlessness unprecedented in our history.
But then, that’s what dictators do, isn’t it?
National Journal asks Do Women Make Better Senators Than Men? Given those doing the asking, I’m pretty sure that the question really means “better at responding to emotion-driven appeals from the left”. And the answer is yes.
The DOJ urges city officials in Sanford, Florida to “seek justice for Trayvon Martin”. Which means, as I said earlier in the week, assuming that he’s innocent and Zimmerman is guilty, regardless of facts, evidence, or law. As expected, the DOJ is doing their part to accomplish the goals of white segregationists.
The National Transportation Safety Board apologizes that an intern caused a local TV station to use joke Asian names such as “Captain Sum Ting Wong” in an official news broadcast. You would think that with youth unemployment so high, they could get less ignorant interns. But I’m sure that, for the NTSB, political correctness trumps competency, so I’m not surprised.
Microsoft’s Surface tablet is not exactly exceeding expectations. As in a 1.8% tablet market share for first quarter of 2013. The price of the low-end RT version was recently cut in response. The article says “Why did Microsoft’s Surface fail so spectacularly? One reason might have been the unusual Windows 8 operating system.” I’d agree, because the hardware isn’t bad. I’ve used Windows 8 on and off for over a year now, and I still dislike its blocky, garish, appearance. That, and the generally untuitive interaction, could be fixed, but it would take design talent that Microsoft doesn’t have.
This is probably one of the triggers for Microsoft’s announced reorganization. By the way, if you pay attention to the Microsoft ecosystem and you don’t know who Kevin Turner is, you should. The ex-Walmart exec is COO and would love to be Steve Ballmer’s successor as CEO.
I joked to someone this week that, with the emphasis now on devices and away from software, Microsoft should change their name to Macrostuff.
Yessir, that Obama sure does know how to make the rest of the world like us again: “…the US is again being seen as an over-weaning superpower that brushes aside smaller nations.”
Speaking of Obama’s superhuman capabilities, you know Obamacare is in real trouble when the White House is holding special briefings for the likes of Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein. No doubt we will see the resulting talking points in our comment section by sometime next week.
This week, Bruce, Michael and Dale discuss the events of the week.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.
It’s worse than you thought and, of course, worse than they projected. Here’s the updated deficit spending chart:
Check out the gray “actual” numbers for the last two years. There is nothing trending down. Reminds one of the promises about unemployment and the “stimulus”, doesn’t it?
As for your part, well, nothing unexpected there – you’re and your kids and their kids are on the hook for a lot more than projected as well:
Yup, let’s give him 4 more years, shall we? I’m sure his administration could change the direction of this chart as well. We could “unexpectedly” owe $40,000 each by the time that term finished up.
Obviously it must be me, because I cannot figure out why anyone would contemplate giving such an abject failure another 4 yearshot at making their lives even worse. It’s time for a little accountability.
Seriously – I believe in second chances, however I don’t believe everyone deserves one. Barack Obama is one of those who doesn’t deserve a second chance.
It’s amazing, though, how much “world class temperament” resembles the behavior of an irritable, spoiled four year old:
Details on this reporter, Neil Munro, actually trying to be a reporter are here.
This episode was, naturally, followed by the usual panties-in-a-wad bleating from our legacy media, 95% of whom are far too cowardly and biased to challenge Obama on anything at any time. So naturally, they declared Obama a holy personage, and designated Munro’s questions as blasphemy. Well, something like that; when these guys get into high dudgeon, it always sounds to me like they’re talking about their religion.
I do believe I detect some serious frustration in our noble President. Not to mention frustration in his legacy media acolytes. Though I have no enthusiasm whatsoever for Romney, I must say that watching the sour phiz that Brian Williams might have to wear this November would be fun.
Of course, some of us had this guy’s number from pretty early on. And some others, such as the last commenter on that thread, were determined to be fooled by Obama indefinitely. Some still are. No names needed, I think; examples abound.
In a patented Instapundit zinger, Glenn sums up Obama’s whining about Romney with four words:
I’LL BET HE DOES: In tough fight with Romney, Obama longs for McCain.
Obama has spent his whole life getting pretty much what he wanted, with token opposition at best. He obviously likes it that way. I suppose if I had lived a charmed life as long as he has, I would also feel entitled to see the charms continue forever.
I’m on record as being no fan of Mitt Romney. I don’t expect to vote for him. I see grave danger that he will end up being the scapegoat of an unprecedented economic meltdown – if it happens on his watch, you can be sure the legacy media journalists and the academic left will work overtime to pin it all on him, and lie through their teeth to minimize the contribution of Democrats and leftists to the problem.
But I do loathe the sanctimonious, smarmy president we have now. Let me translate some of his sanctimony:
It will only be when Mitt Romney is defeated, the president continued, "that the fever may break, because there’s a tradition in the Republican Party of more common sense than that."
“There’s a tradition in the Republican Party of making a good show and then rolling over for the big-government left. Hey, they’re supposed to be more loyal to the rest of the political class, including me, than to those whackjobs that actually vote for them. It’s not fair if they don’t keep doing that.”
"The last time we ran, we had a Republican candidate who — I had some profound disagreements with him, but he acknowledged the need for immigration reform, and acknowledged the need for campaign finance reform, acknowledged the need for policies that would do something about climate change," Obama said. "Now, what we’ve got is not just a nominee but a Congress and a Republican Party that have a fundamentally different vision about where we need to go as a country."
“Come on, Mitt, don’t you want to be a loser like McCain? He understood the kabuki Republicans are supposed to perform. He embraced a whole bunch of leftist positions, but still pretended to be conservative. He knew he wasn’t supposed to really criticize me and my Lightworker persona. Now, I have to run against people who won’t play my game, and insist on setting out some kind of clear choice. That’s not fair.”
At about the same time, the Obama campaign released a web video that also featured McCain nostalgia. "John McCain stood up to the voices of extremism in his party," the video said. "Why won’t Mitt Romney do the same?"
“Why won’t Mitt Romney play the game the way I want? He should be wasting his time on the things I want him to waste time on. See, the whole repudiation thing is a win-win for me. With the help of my comrades in the media, I can keep Romney busy defending the indefensible, and he’ll still come out of it looking bad no matter how much he apologizes or repudiates. Plus, his base gets demoralized. Why won’t he go along with that? Doesn’t he understand that I need him to play the role of the valiant loser who gets a nice compliment in my victory speech? It’s not fair.”
I don’t expect that his whining is going to win over many voters, but what else can he do? His record is dismal in just about every respect you can name. He has to talk about something, and as out of touch as Obama is, even he knows he’d better not talk about unemployment, lack of growth, or troubles in Europe. When he tries to talk about foreign issues, he ends up speaking of the Maldives instead of the Malvinas, or Polish death camps, or whatever. With his speaking record already including 57 states and “corpse-man”, maybe he’s better off if he sticks to generic whining.
I’m in a series of meetings today so I’m unlikely to get any serious blogging done.
You guys talk among yourselves.
Suggestions: “flip-flop” is now “evolution”? Really?
And, dealing with just the politics of Obama’s gay marriage announcement, guess what we won’t be talking about again today?
One of the claims President Obama made in his State of the Union address was that his administration was engaged in cutting the red tape and doing away with regulations that stood in the way of prosperity.
There is no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly. In fact, I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his. I’ve ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don’t make sense. We’ve already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years.
Of course, like many of his claims, the devil is in the details and upon closer scrutiny, the claim has no real foundation in fact.
His first claim is a carefully constructed lie as Free Enterprise points out:
The White House admits that its rules have so far cost $25 billion, which is much more than at the same point during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
The claim is also couched in non-specifics for a reason. The “500 reforms” are mostly regulations with little or no monetary impact on those who have to satisfy them. However, the administration has added more rules that cross the magic 100 million dollar impact line than any other administration. And, of course, those require, by law, that the monetary impact be assessed. Here’s an example of one (PDF, pg 69):
Enforcement Fairness Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.). This interim final rule:
a. Will have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. This rule will affect every new well on the OCS, and every operator, both large and small must meet the same criteria for well construction regardless of company size. This rulemaking may have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities and the impact on small businesses will be analyzed more thoroughly in an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. While large companies will bear the majority of these costs, small companies as both leaseholders and contractors supporting OCS drilling operations will be affected.
Considering the new requirements for redundant barriers and new tests, we estimate that this rulemaking will add an average of about $1.42 million to each new deepwater well drilled and completed with a MODU, $170 thousand for each new deepwater well drilled with a platform rig, and $90 thousand for each new shallow water well. While not an insignificant amount, we note this extra recurring cost is less than 2 percent of the cost of drilling a well in deepwater and around 1 percent for most shallow water wells.
b. Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions. The impact on domestic deepwater hydrocarbon production as a result of these regulations is expected to be negative, but the size of the impact is not expected to materially impact the world oil markets. The deepwater GOM is an oil province and the domestic crude oil prices are set by the world oil markets. Currently there is sufficient spare capacity in OPEC to offset a decrease in GOM deepwater production that could occur as a result of this rule.
Therefore, the increase in the price of hydrocarbon products to consumers from the increased cost to drill and operate on the OCS is expected to be minimal. However, more of the oil for domestic consumption may be purchased from overseas markets because the cost of OCS oil and gas production will rise relative to other sources of supply. This shift would contribute negatively to our balance of trade.
These rules were proposed in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). They clearly identify the effect of the rules. Ironically they include increased cost to consumers, more dependence on foreign oil, and a negative increase in the balance of trade – all problems the administration and most economists identify is problems to be solved if the economy is to move forward.
Now, some may argue that these rules were necessary. I’d argue that perhaps some new regulation was necessary, but it should have been a regulation which, to the best of its ability, mitigated the effects listed to the minimum, or eliminated them altogether. Instead, the regulators airily note the effects and then blow them off. In reality, regulators really don’t care if it costs consumers more, deepens our dependence on foreign oil or ups the balance of trade.
In the State of the Union address, Obama tried to grab the middle and pretend he is a friend to small business:
You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. (Applause.) It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work, and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.
After all, innovation is what America has always been about. Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let’s pass an agenda that helps them succeed. Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. (Applause.) Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year. (Applause.)
But again facts undermine the claim. As the Small Business Association reports, regulations disproportionately effect small businesses:
In the face of yet higher costs of federal regulations, the research shows that small businesses continue to bear a disproportionate share of the federal regulatory burden. The findings are consistent with those in Hopkins (1995), Crain and Hopkins (2001), and Crain (2005).
The research finds that the total costs of federal regulations have further increased from the level established in the 2005 study, as have the costs per employee. More specifically, the total cost of federal regulations has increased to $1.75 trillion, while the updated cost per employee for firms with fewer than 20 employees is now $10,585 (a 36 percent difference between the costs incurred by small firms when compared with their larger counterparts).
Say one thing while doing the opposite. Vintage Obama. Tomorrow’s Steve Jobs would have a very expensive uphill climb in today’s regulatory climate. The net effect? $1.75 trillion dollars of cost to small businesses, the place where “most jobs are created” per Obama.
The SBA also reports:
Environmental regulations appear to be the main cost drivers in determining the severity of the disproportionate impact on small firms. Compliance with environmental regulations costs 364 percent more in small firms than in large firms. The cost of tax compliance is 206 percent higher in small firms than the cost in large firms.
Those regulations are primarily driven by OSHA and EPA. And there’s no secret about the expansion of both regulators and regulation being pushed by Obama’s EPA focused on the environment.
The “good” news, however, this is one “shovel ready” project that seems to be creating jobs:
Large, small, global and regional — law firms are opening Washington offices at a rate not seen since before the recession, as they position themselves for work centered around the capital’s regulatory machinery.
Yes, I was being very facetious, however, when sharks smell blood in the water, they tend to gather in large numbers in anticipation of a feeding frenzy. Despite Obama’s claims to the contrary, there’s a reason this is happening, and it isn’t because the administration is lessening or cutting regulations, it is because it is imposing more and needs additional legal enforcement help (there’s also the side that will concentrate on defense).
Don’t forget, the $1.75 trillion dollar cost above applies to only small business. That means that the total cost of regulation is much higher than that. Also don’t forget, when Obama makes his claim about not passing as many regulations as previous administrations, that’s meaningless without an dollar effect numbers. As noted, in regulatory cost to the economy, he’s passed many more costly regulations at this point in his presidency than did the previous administration.
The bottom line, of course, is that A) you can’t believe a thing the man says and B) contrary to his claims, he’s imposed more cost on the economy via regulation, not less.
Finally, if you think it is bad now, wait until ObamaCare kicks in. One of the reasons law firms are beefing up their Washington DC presence is in anticipation of that law going into effect. If you think it’s a regulatory nightmare now, just wait. It’s going to get worse.
Sean Hackbarth, commenting on the increase in lawyers:
Resources spent on paperwork and re-jiggering business plans is less money going to business investment and job creation, but at least we know someone is benefiting from the regulatory pile-on.
Shovel-ready – and not in the good sense.