We’ve seen a regulations surge from the Obama administration in the last three years, but a piece in the Wall Street Journal suggests that, when it comes to new rules, it’s quantity over quality.
Although the Journal points out that many of these new rules are badly written, the problem is much worse than that:
Regulatory quality isn't the same as content—though bad rules are usually badly written, as seems to be the case here.
Rather, quality refers to a deliberative process: defining the problem; measuring costs, benefits and risks; weighing alternatives, making trade-offs, avoiding duplication; and giving the public opportunity to comment.
If all goes well a quality rule will promote or at least not impair "economic growth, innovation, competitiveness and job creation," as Mr. Obama's January 2011 executive order on regulation had it.
It's too boring for the press corps to notice, but a growing body of evidence suggests that the Obamanauts are undermining these basic due diligence practices that have been commonly accepted by whatever party happened to be in power.
Dodd-Frank, which revamped the financial industry, is a case in point. According to the Journal, the GAO “dryly” notes that "regulators may be missing an opportunity to enhance the rigor and improve the transparency of their analyses."
The costs and benefits of only seven of ten new discretionary rules included in Dodd-Frank were analyzed. Only two were monetized and the rest were simply described verbally. That means that eight optional rules found their way onto the Federal Register with no quantitative analysis. The Journal notes:
The GAO goes on to describe the "informal and ad hoc" system for coordinating new rules among the financial regulatory agencies, which may be contributing to "market participants' uncertainty about the future functioning of financial markets."
The mother of all regulations is, of course, Obamacare. We all know how this massive piece of legislation was rammed through Congress unread. The claims made for the bill were mostly unsubstantiated and not thought out—it should not be surprising, the editorial observes, that the phrase “the Secretary shall” appears in the act 1,563 times.
These jerrybuilt regulations have a profound impact on a company’s ability to do new hiring. John Stossel has a piece in Reason with the headline "Is Obamacare Stopping Businesses from Hiring?” The short answer is: yes. The length and complexity of the bill make businesses afraid to expand.
Mike Whalen, CEO of Heart of America Group, which runs hotels and restaurants, said that when he asked his company’s health insurance experts to summarize the impact of Obamacare, “the three of them kind of looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve gone to seminar after seminar, and, Mike, we can’t tell you.’ I think that just kind of sums up the uncertainty.”
Brad Anderson, CEO of Best Buy, added that Obamacare makes it impossible to achieve even basic certainty about future personnel costs:
“If I was trying to get you to fund a new business I had started and you asked me what my payroll was going to be three years from now per employee, if I went to the deepest specialist in the industry, he can’t tell me what it’s actually going to cost, let alone what I’m going to be responsible for.”
Stossel takes note of the frequent use of the “the secretary will” locution as a clear indication that the legislation isn’t clear about the specifics. He asks:
How can a business make plans in such a fog?