Share This Page

Government regs that rule our lives

| Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, 9:09 p.m.

Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes, the saying goes. Unfortunately, the list doesn't stop there. We can add one other inescapable component: government regulations.

Think you can avoid them by, say, not owning a business? Sorry. If you're breathing, you're affected by regulations. And considering the fact that there are government rules for funeral homes, even the lack of a pulse won't save you. There are thousands upon thousands of individual regulations, and the annual cost runs into billions of dollars.

But, some may say, it's businesses that pay those costs. Wrong. The costs of regulations are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices and limited product choices. The price controls that bureaucrats slapped on the fees that banks may charge to process debit-card transactions prompted banks to cancel many rewards programs and free services. And it led to higher fees on checking accounts and credit cards.

Heritage Foundation experts James Gattuso and Diane Katz recently compiled a list of the 10 worst regulations of 2012. So as we begin 2013, let's review a few of the more ridiculous rules that went into effect last year:

• In August, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized new fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks (model years 2017-25). The average fuel economy that the rules require by 2025 is 54.5 miles per gallon. Sticker prices will soar by hundreds of dollars.

• In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released its proposal for a more “consumer friendly” mortgage process. The idea was to simplify home loans. The result: 1,099 pages of rules. In August, the CFPB proposed more than 560 pages of detailed rules for mortgage servicing. Far from simplifying anything, this will reduce consumer mortgage lending options and hike costs.

• In April, the National Labor Relations Board issued rules that shorten the time allowed for union-organizing elections to between 10 and 21 days. This hardly gives employees time to make an informed decision.

• In September, the New York City Board of Health listened to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and banned the sale of soda and other sweetened drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.

• Last February, the Department of Health and Human Services released its mandate requiring that all health insurance plans include coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraceptives. There are no exceptions for church-affiliated schools, hospitals and charities whose religious beliefs forbid them to comply with this mandate. No wonder 42 cases with more than 110 plaintiffs are challenging this restriction on religious liberty as a violation of the First Amendment.

How can lawmakers help?

They can start by requiring congressional approval of any new major regulations. And they can demand that these regulations have an expiration (“sunset”) date.

“As government expands,” President Reagan once said, “liberty contracts.” Keeping regulations under control is a good way to ensure that doesn't happen.

Ed Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.