Regulatory Paralysis or Reconstruction?

April 2, 2012

At The Atlantic, Philip K. Howard highlights several solutions to obsolete laws. In one part, Howard highlights Geoff Davis’ REINS Act, offering a more common sense alternative:

Under a bill being drafted by Sen. Warner, agencies could not impose a new regulation unless they first eliminated old regulations of equal cost. The advantage of this proposal is that it introduces into the bureaucratic culture the necessity of budgeting regulation. Britain has a similar law, which has thus far proven effective at cutting costs and slowing the pace of new regulation. Another proposal, the so-called REINS Act introduced by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), would require congressional approval for any regulation with a projected economic impact of $100 million or more. But this proposal does nothing to clean out old regulations. The probable effect, as both critics and supporters suggest, is regulatory paralysis: in the current partisan environment, there would be no major new rules.

People are naturally fearful of change, but we don’t really have a choice. Better to confront the inevitability head on. Other countries have government agencies that do this job — in Germany, for example, the Federal Ministry of Justice makes sure statutes work together in a coherent way. South Korea has an entire cabinet-level department, the Ministry of Government Legislation, which works continuously to improve existing legal structures. And New Zealand rewrote from scratch many of its major federal laws — including environmental, tax, occupational safety and health statutes — in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

One way or another, America will have to confront the waste and inefficiency caused by obsolete laws. These proposals above provide a menu of possible frameworks that would compel Congress and regulatory agencies to rethink old law and make new choices.

Read on for much more…


Ruth Ann Palumbo Blames Obama, Regulations for not fixing her house 8 years ago

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January 12, 2012

It’s no surprise when Republicans resort to blaming the President and Government regulations in order to divert attention from actual problems.

The Bush years crashed the economy? Blame Obama’s regulations.

The water is too clean? Blame Obama’s regulations.

Got a really annoying hang nail? Blame Obama’s regulations.

What happens less — because generally they’re smarter people… generally — is Democrats using Obama and his “regulations” to shirk their own responsibility.

But that, sadly, is exactly what Ruth Ann Palumbo, a state House representative from Lexington (since 1991) has done. She’s got a house, it’s rundown, the city’s code enforcement is telling her to fix it… and she ain’t doing nuthin.

This is pathetic:

Neighbors say the home at 10 Deepwood Drive, with its trash-strewn yard, is a worsening eyesore and a public health risk because raccoons and rats come and go through various holes in its exterior.

“I’ve been here eight years, and that house has never been lived in. It’s been abandoned and it’s bringing down property values all along the street,” said Barry Crume, who also lives on Deepwood Drive, a cul-de-sac of large, handsome brick and stone homes.

“I don’t know if she’s embarrassed that she can’t deal with this or if she thinks she’s above the law because she’s an elected official,” Crume said. “Whatever it is, she needs to fix it.”

Now, look. If it’s an issue of money, my heart goes out to Ruth Ann. If it’s just a matter of time, I understand… for instance, I’ve got a pile of dishes I need to do and they, apparently, aren’t doing themselves.

But what won’t be excused is this:

Speaking this week, Palumbo said she never intended for her home to fall into such disrepair. She said she delayed rehabilitation because of hazards inside the house — mold, asbestos and lead-based paint — that will require specialists to remove. Federal environmental rules for such work have been strengthened under President Barack Obama, she said.

“There are a lot of new regulations that we want to comply with,” said Palumbo, chairman of the House Economic Development Committee. “It wasn’t like you could just open the Yellow Pages and call someone to do all this kind of work.”

This is stupid. This is pandering. This is making an excuse of the lowest variety in order to avoid scrutiny and responsibility.

Let’s be clear: Ruth Ann Palumbo is blaming Barack Obama and government regulations for not fixing her house 8 years ago.

8 years ago, Ruth Ann’s house had asbestos, mold and lead-based paint, and 8 long year ago, Barack Obama and his regulation brownshirts stopped Ruth Ann from fixing up her house.


I’m sure there’s a real explanation, and whatever it is, by the looks of it, it’s a rough one. But don’t blame Barack Obama just because it’s easy. That’s ridiculous.

Republican War on Health & Safety Continues; Ben Chandler (R-KY) joins in

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December 6, 2011

As DownWithTyranny points out, the House of Representatives passed the Regulatory Flexibility Act last Thursday. The vote was 263 to 159, with no Republicans voting against and 28 Democrats voting in favor. One of those Dems was our own Ben Chandler.

The RFA is one of three anti-regulation bills the House GOP is using to strip safety protections — the primary one being Geofferson Davis’ REINS Act — under the guise of “job creation.” Basically (and you’ll be shocked by this) the Republican Party (and their Democratic co-conspirators) are using America’s economic collapse to roll back the rules that keep corporations from poisoning us.

Former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) wrote of these three bills:

The Republican Party should be spending its time trying to improve what is basically an effective system, figuring out how to improve protections and reduce costs.  But the House is off on a very different path, ignoring experience in favor of ideology, working to destroy a system that has protected business as well as the public.  It’s high time for those in the center to call them on that.

Current Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) wrote of the Regulatory Flexibility Act:

Rounding out the trio of public safety killing legislation is H.R. 527, the “Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011.” Under current law, rulemaking agencies must make an analysis for every new rule that would have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, such as small businesses. Among other things, this bill repeals the authority of an agency to waive or delay this analysis in response to an emergency that makes compliance or timely compliance impracticable.

So if there is an epidemic of E. coli or listeria infection caused by some item in our nation’s food distribution network, or if there is an imminent environmental disaster that could be addressed systemically through regulation, this bill says “Don’t worry. Don’t rush.”

My conservative colleagues argue that this legislation is necessary because too much regulation is responsible for our nation’s current economic difficulties. They must be suffering from some collective form of amnesia. It was not too much regulation of Wall Street that led to the near collapse of the worldwide marketplace. It was not too much regulation that caused the BP oil spill. And, it was not too much regulation that allowed mortgage brokers, servicers, bankers and others to engage in predatory lending and falsify foreclosure documents in court proceedings.

Current Congressman Ben Chandler (R-KY) wrote of his vote in favor of this bill:





Oh. He didn’t write anything. Sorry.

Rand Paul defends right of pipelines to blow up and kill or poison you

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September 27, 2011

Syndicated pretty much everywhere via the Associated Press (and thus just the latest totally awesome advertisement for the State of Kentucky), Rand Paul protects our liberty:

A senator who opposes federal regulation on philosophical grounds is single-handedly blocking legislation that would strengthen safety rules for oil and gas pipelines, a bill that even the pipeline industry and companies in his own state support.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s opposition to the bill hasn’t wavered even after a gas pipeline rupture last week shook people awake in three counties in his home state of Kentucky.

….Under the bill, federal regulators could order that automatic shutoff valves be installed on new pipelines so leaks can be halted sooner. And it directs regulators to determine whether mandatory inspections of aging pipelines in densely populated areas should be expanded to include lines in rural areas. It would be paid for by industry fees.

The bill’s even supported by the industry, so what’s Rand’s problem:

Officials familiar with Paul’s objections said he has told lobbyists and company officials that he’s not opposed to any specific part of the bill, just to the notion of additional federal regulation.

You’re welcome, America, from the State of Kentucky.

Deregulation, Corporate Tax Holidays, and the Trillion Dollar Lie

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September 20, 2011

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal highlighted a new report out from our friends at the Federal Reserve:

Corporations have a higher share of cash on their balance sheets than at any time in nearly half a century, as businesses build up buffers rather than invest in new plants or hiring.

Nonfinancial companies held more than $2 trillion in cash and other liquid assets at the end of June, the Federal Reserve reported Friday, up more than $88 billion from the end of March. Cash accounted for 7.1% of all company assets, everything from buildings to bonds, the highest level since 1963.

ThinkProgress focused on some of the resulting corporate and Republican doublespeak — how the GOP and Big Business seeks to use this hoarding of cash to make corporations even richer, noting:

…Republican presidential candidates and corporate leaders continue to lobby for lower corporate tax rates and huge corporate tax giveaways under the guise that they will lead to higher rates of job creation.

They go on to focus on an even wackier Republican Conclusion… that because the Corporations are hoarding so much cash, it’s time to give them a Tax Holiday, a chance to bring home the sizeable (and not included in the above $2 Trillion figure) chunks of change these Giant Coprorations have hidden away in foreign lands and foreign banks.

If the US Government would just not tax them on that money, they could bring it back home and… well, the reasoning sort of breaks down there (for why wouldn’t they just bring that cash back home and then hoard it away with the rest of their cash?). But as ThinkProgress points out:

Evidence from past repatriation tax holidays, in which corporations can bring foreign cash holdings back to the U.S. at lower tax rates, shows that companies wouldn’t use the funds to spur job growth. As one of the members on President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers said, the 2004 repatriation holiday “didn’t accomplish the stated goals of bringing jobs and investment to the U.S.” After the holiday ended, corporations cut thousands of jobs and stashed more money overseas in anticipation of a future holiday — a perhaps prescient move, as multiple Republican presidential candidates have endorsed an even bigger tax holiday than the corporations have asked for.

Meanwhile, Republican candidates continue to endorse drastic reductions in the corporate tax rate, even as American corporations pay one of the lowest effective tax rates in the developed world.

Unmentioned by either ThinkProgress or the WSJ is the other part of this equation, the other half of the Republican Party’s lie.

For the past few months, Republicans (and some business leaders) have tried to use the $2-3 Trillion hoarding as an excuse for another type of corporate giveaway: Deregulation.

Ed Whitfield says:

American financial institutions and American businesses are collectively sitting on more than $3 trillion in cash unwilling to invest or reinvest in our economy because of the uncertainty coming from our federal government.

Ed blames the government’s regulation of Corporate America for Corporate America’s unwillingness to use the money they have to expand job markets. Because the EPA wants our water to be safe, Corporations are hoarding “more than $3 trillion in cash.” Because the Obama Administration believes Wall Street needs more policing after totally wrecking the economy so that they can’t, you know, do it all over again… corporations are hoarding “more than $3 trillion in cash.”

Mitch McConnell is making the same argument. As he told Chambers of Commerce in Texas this August:

Regulations are the main reason companies collectively are sitting on between $2 trillion to $3 trillion in cash. They are “afraid to invest any of it,” McConnell said.


Corporate America is cowering, clutching its blankie, and sobbing quietly. Those terrible regulations!

The Republican Party and the Giant Corporations they represent are trying to have it three ways.

  1. They are hoarding all their cash so that if the economy totally collapses, they’ll still be sitting pretty.
  2. They are demanding further tax breaks and they are fighting, voraciously, President Obama’s modest tax re-valuation.
  3. They are attempting to use the fact that they’ve hoarded $2-3 Trillion in cash to bring about the deregulation they have always wanted.

Whitfield pushing the $3 Trillion lie

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September 6, 2011

Not to be outdone by our state’s Junior Senator, 1st District Questionable Congressman Ed Whitfield wrote an op-ed of his own — though not for the Washington Times like Rand (earlier) but for The Gleaner down in Henderson:

If America is to grow and compete again, Americans must have jobs. Yet, President Obama, his federal agencies and the majority leader of the U.S. Senate are not doing the things necessary to create jobs.

Not as fiery a start as Rand (as in: he didn’t declare anything unconstitutional yet) but you get his point — The only people serious about creating jobs in America are the Republicans in the Senate and the House.

And what, pray tell, are they doing? Well, mitching and boehning about a few trillion dollars:

American financial institutions and American businesses are collectively sitting on more than $3 trillion in cash unwilling to invest or reinvest in our economy because of the uncertainty coming from our federal government.

For those of you keeping score — Mitch McConnell invoked the $3 Trillion figure last Tuesday in Texas and here we have Ed Whitfield doing the $3 Trillion tango in The Gleaner.

In each instance, from each leader, we are asked to believe that the unimaginable amount of money being hoarded by the super-rich is not a rallying cry to anger — like, who the F do they think they are sitting on all that money as the government is forced to try and fill in that gap because private industry is only in it for themselves and the rest of us can go            ourselves — but rather, the fault of government.

But back to the Congressmeh:

As I traveled throughout the First Congressional District this month, I heard repeatedly from fellow Kentuckians: “What is Washington doing about jobs?”

And what did you tell them, Ed?

Well, Ed tells us, he’s trying to force the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (which doesn’t seem to bring any jobs to Kentucky, but supposedly creates 50,000 in other states) and an attack on the Clean Air Act, which supposedly “protects” a million jobs. Then he calls the EPA “a train wreck” (which is itself just another dog whistle)

His talking point is a simple one, it is the GOP talking point and they all remain on message.

Regulations, Regulations, Regulations.

The Obama administration’s total control over our lives by way of seeking clean air and safe drinking water and all manner of other regulations… this is why people are out of work…

…this is why the economy collapsed…

…this is why America’s biggest corporations are hoarding Trillions and Trillions of dollars and not re-investing it into a seriously struggling America.

It’s an offensive, reckless lie and they are getting away with it.

The Kentucky Democratic Party sits by silently. They Kentucky GOP delegation has been beating this drumbeat for a month now. There is no pushback. There is no correction. There is no challenge.

Rand Paul declares EPA “turns everyday life into a federal crime”

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September 6, 2011

That’s right. You’re a felon! Just by breathing not-completely clean air and drinking not-exactly safe water. Those EPA bastards have it in for you and any day now their SWAT teams are going to swoop into your house and throw you in federal prison. Any day now.

Heeeeeeere’s Rand:

Since its creation in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency has done more harm than good. EPA regulations cost more than 5 percent of our annual gross domestic product – the equivalent of the costs of defense and homeland security combined. Since EPA regulations have expanded, unemployment in America has increased by 33 percent. This abuse of power by the implementation of regulations infringes upon our basic constitutional rights.

Starting at the beginning, Rand Paul has already argued that in fact the EPA has done more good than harm when he went on and on to Jon Stewart about how the air and water are cleaner now than they were 30 years ago (albeit, stupidly making the argument the EPA didn’t do anything).

Next, let us contemplate the notion that somehow it is the EPA that has increased unemployment.

Using Rand Paul’s exact same logic, one could also say that since All My Children went on the air in 1970 — the same year the EPA was founded — unemployment has increased 33%. Let us cancel All My Children!

Oh… oh, that’s already happening. ABC is dumping that show. Perhaps our jobs will come back now?

No. No, that doesn’t make any sense at all, does it?

Mitch McConnell’s favorite word is “regulations”

September 6, 2011

Mitch went down to Texas last week where he spoke to three local Chambers of Commerce. The report is amusing, if unsurprising:

One of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s favorite words on Tuesday while in San Antonio was “regulation.”

The powerful Kentucky Republican is against them.

Many business owners are, too — sometimes for good reason.

Yes. Sometimes. That’s why sometimes, the government rescinds certain regulations and sometimes it doesn’t fully enforce others and sometimes it just allows the rest of us — the non-business owners — to consume water and air and food with carcinogenic particulates well-above the medically recommended level. So sure, sometimes there’s a good reason and when there is, the government scales back the regulations. Happens all the time. Always has. No big deal, right?

McConnell set the stage in his opening statements. The American public, by electing in 2008 a Democratic Party president and a Democratic congressional majority, apparently thought that “America suffered from not enough government.”

McConnell characterized that way of thinking as “a West European view of what America ought to be.” The 2010 electoral backlash in favor of the Republicans was like “a restraining order” on that way of thinking.

McConnell later listed the industries under threat from government regulation: health care, financial services, labor and, so he wouldn’t leave anyone out, industries regulated by “every agency.”

Yes, that’s exactly what both those elections were about. When they write history books, that will be it. It will have nothing to do with Mitch McConnell and the Republican party destroying America.

Also… as for his charge that Health Care and the Financial Services industries are “under threat” — only in a room full of Chambers of Commerce members would that elicit sympathy. “Oh! Those poor babies. Whatever will they do? Why is everyone so mean, why is the world so unfair?”

And then he throws in Labor… because it’s government regulations that are threatening to bust the unions.

And then… “industries regulated by ‘every agency.’”

Here’s a neat fact. Mitch McConnell is regulated by every agency and so are you.

The IRS regulates that you pay taxes, the taxes pay for departments of transportation and the DOT regulates that you stop at red lights and stop signs and generally don’t kill other people. The Police department regulates that you don’t get shot by wackjobs and the Fire Department regulates that if you house catches on fire, maybe it won’t burn the fuck down. The EPA regulates that when you drink water you don’t drop dead and that when you go outside and breathe the air, they regulate that you not cough up blood. The Department of Defense regulates that young men sign up for the Draft and they regulate that when your town floods they will come in and help you sandbag your house. They also regulate the ability of terrorists over there to come over here. OSHA regulates that you don’t die at your desk while you’re doing your crummy job and the Department of Labor regulates you not work 80 hours a week without proper remuneration. The Department of Health and Human Services regulates that certain standards of health be upheld and the Department of Justice regulates your ability to get totally and entirely hosed by the poor put-upon Health Insurance industry.

It’s all so sad! Our lives are totally controlled. We are not free. Freedom is dead.

And do you know what’s worse? Do you?

Regulations are the main reason companies collectively are sitting on between $2 trillion to $3 trillion in cash. They are “afraid to invest any of it,” McConnell said.

That’s right!

Because your kid has to get educated and because you have to not get behind the wheel of a car with no brakes, the very companies who brought this country to its knees are hoarding offensive amounts of money (of taxpayer money) and they aren’t giving it back. Because you and me and Mitch McConnell and poor little Trillion Dollar them are being regulated!

And what did the Chambers of Commerce make of Mitch’s impassioned speech?

Yet, no one ever said why the economy fell into recession or why other problems arise.

The housing and financial crisis of 2008? The environmentally disastrous oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico last year? Bernie Madoff? Contaminated food outbreaks? Refinery explosions? Coal mine accidents? Appropriate and smart regulation could have prevented those.

Maybe McConnell and business owners believe the recent regulatory steps are the wrong ones. The new ones don’t address what caused past problems and therefore make matters worse. If so, that’s not well articulated.

And why should they articulate it? Why should they speak of what caused the recession? Why should they? Or… wait… is there a government agency that regulates their level of honesty? Because last I checked, this is still America and if a roomful of businessmen want to sit around patting each other on the back whilst willfully ignoring the 2 to 3 Trillion things that are really wrong with the country, that’s their business and Uncle Sam can butt the hell out.

Rand Paul at another Country Club

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September 6, 2011

Continuing the Kentucky Delegation’s mission to visit all the Country Clubs and Chambers of Commerce around the state and stoke fear in their unwitting subjects about the government’s total control of our daily lives, Rand Paul visited the Boyle County Chamber of Commerce at the Danville Country Club on Friday:

Paul, a figurehead for the insurgent Tea Party movement that carried him and other candidates into office last fall, gave a speech packed with his ideas on issues ranging from entitlement reform to what Paul sees as the onerous effects of the Environmental Protection Agency.

As it was during his campaign, the government’s detrimental role in the economy and people’s lives was a common refrain during the speech.

But here, unlike previous events, the Junior Senator was met by a round of protestors:

Some protestors were unhappy when they were asked to move off part of country club grounds adjacent to Lexington Road, but police said the group was peaceful and there were no problems.

Paul’s stance on rolling back environmental regulations was one of the things that moved Boyle County resident Jim Porter to join the protest.

“Rand Paul is anti-EPA and he’s anti-FEMA,” Porter said. “He thinks Eastern Kentucky should be left to mountaintop removal mining and polluted air and water.”

All-in-all, the article’s got lots of fun info, but one fact was glaringly incorrect:

Apart from his policy stances, and his father’s presidential run (U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas), Paul has drawn attention for his willingness to break with the Republican Party on issues like cutting military spending (he favors cuts) and his refusal for taking his seat on the back bench with other junior senators.

If that’s the case, then Rand Paul is lying to someone because just three weeks ago he flip-flopped and said he is against military cuts.


[If you missed Rand Paul's visit to the Bowling Green Country Club the day before, you can read all about his War on behalf of Rich People here.]

Rep. Ed Whitfield Blasts Regulations… after attending ribbon cutting for gov’t funded and government regulated water treatment plant

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August 30, 2011

So the Republican party is busy blaming the sad state of the economy on government regulations (not Wall Street, not Glass-Steagal, not the Iraq war, not anything that might make sense).

They are trying — really, really trying to make the argument that deregulating big business, especially utilities and mining, will put everyone back to work.

Needless to say, this results in these Republicans putting themselves in really dumb situations.

Take Ed Whitfield (please).

Last Thursday, WBKO caught up with the Questionable Congressman and Ed dropped some knowledge:

U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield says the way to stimulate the economy is to spur job growth by eliminating government regulations that cause economic uncertainty. ….Whitfield is chairman of a house energy subcommittee. So in an effort to help Republican House Speaker John Boehner cut $1.5 trillion from the federal budget, Whitfield suggests eliminating the Wind Power Program. He says wind power is one of the most expensive ways to generate electricity, compared to coal or nuclear power.

We’ll leave the “wind power” question to a later date and just focus on his GOP talking point lamentation — Regulations are Ruining the Economy! Because Socialist Autocrat Nazi Barry Hussein Obama is trying to control every single aspect of your life down to the water you drink –> You do not have a job. This is the GOP message. But the very same day, the Questionable Congressman showed up at a ground breaking ceremony for a water treatment plant. …that’s funded by the government… …and regulated by the government. This is called ‘irony.’ It could also be called, ‘stupid.’ Here’s the report from your really excellent source for news in Muhlenberg County:

Central City and Muhlenberg County held a groundbreaking for the expansion on the Water Treatment Plant, on River Road, in Central City, on Thursday, August 26. ….The city was notified that they were being awarded a $3 million grant from Rural Conservation. Congressman Ed Whitfield was present at the ceremony to present a check for the grant, as well as a check for a $14.45 million low-interest loan. The city had previously received a $1.5 million grant from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority. This will fund a major expansion to the water treatment plant that is currently barely meeting the demands of its more than 33,000 customers.

And here’s a video report of the groundbreaking from WEHT-TV which explains that the giant $14.5 million check Whitfield handed over is an extremely favorable loan… from Statist-Stalinist President, Barry Hussein Obama, by way of the USDA, in his ongoing mission to control your mind and your life at all times.

So, yes… federal taxpayer dollars are underwriting this great boon for Muhlenberg County.

And you know what’s even worse?

The water treatment plant is actually part of Barry Hussein’s secret plan to control the water you drink! The “treatment plant” is being built to enforce those “Job Killing Regulations.” Obama is literally trying to control the water you drink and this Whitfield-endorsed Communist water treatment plant is just Obama’s latest chess-move into total control of your brain.

I mean, just for example, the EPA announced regulations in March that will totally destroy all our jobs:

Studies have found that hundreds of industrial and agricultural chemicals, including several known carcinogens, are present in municipal water systems around the country. The nation’s laws and enforcement programs have not kept pace with spreading contamination, posing significant health risks to millions.

Wednesday’s decision to regulate perchlorate reversed a 2008 finding by the Bush administration that a nationwide standard for the chemical was unnecessary and would do little to reduce risks to human health.

Ms. Jackson announced her intent to review the nation’s drinking water standards a year ago, ordering an extensive review of the health effects of perchlorate and other toxic substances found in city water supplies. She announced on Wednesday that her agency would set standards for as many as 16 other toxic and carcinogenic chemicals.

Thousands of people throughout Whitfield’s district are sure to be jobless because of this any day now.


(As an aside, Whitfield’s very real behavior is eerily similar to this wonderful story in The Onion. But who needs satire when you have Ed Whitfield?)




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