The 10 worst regulations of 2013
This year will be remembered for many things, not least the miles of red tape that were imposed on Americans.
Which are the worst? There are no objective standards to measure such things, but here is our take:
10. Forced flacking for Christmas trees. In its latest version of the $1 trillion farm bill, the House approved a provision to require the Department of Agriculture to impose a tax of 15 cents on every fresh Christmas tree to fund a promotion campaign for the industry.
9. Genetic testing gag order. In early December, the FDA ordered a company called “23andMe” to stop marketing its home genetic testing kits. There was nothing unsafe about the product; the FDA simply says that the tests might not be accurate and could prompt other, unnecessary, medical testing. But surely that is a decision Americans can make for themselves.
8. Mail mandates. The U.S. Postal Service is hardly known for its efficiency. Part of the reason is that this government-owned enterprise operates under strict limits imposed by Congress. Thus, plans last spring to move to five-day-per-week delivery were blocked by congressional rules.
7. Billions for boilers. The Obama administration in January finalized a punishing set of regulations controlling emissions from 17,000 boilers nationwide used to generate electricity and provide heat for factories. The EPA estimated upfront costs of the rule at nearly $5 billion, although this is disputed as absurdly low by those affected.
6. Pay cap populism. The Securities and Exchange Commission in September proposed to require that companies disclose the ratio of CEO compensation to the median earnings of all employees. This was among several dictates in the Dodd-Frank act with no purpose other than to stoke populist anger about wage “inequality.”
5. Carbon inflation. In June, government regulators increased by a whopping 50 percent their estimates of the value of decreased carbon emissions. This bloated estimate, while not in itself a regulation, will allow regulators to “justify” a host of new carbon restrictions, even if their benefits do not really outweigh the costs to the economy and consumers.
4. Diet dictates. The diet dictators at the FDA want to ban trans fats in food under the notion that any ingestion of any amount of this food additive is inherently unsafe. The cost of the ban is estimated at about $8 billion.
3. Mortgage micromanagement. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau went into high gear this year, issuing hundreds of pages of new rules restricting mortgage writing.
2. Finance for lawyers. The 900-plus page “Volcker Rule,” adopted by five separate financial regulatory agencies in early December, limits bank “proprietary” trading, meaning trades on their own accounts rather than on behalf of clients. It will create a boon for lawyers in the inevitable litigation to follow.
1. Failed health mandates. Finalized early in 2013, these rules — a key part of ObamaCare — impose coverage requirements for individual health insurance policies. This mandate famously caused millions of Americans to lose their insurance policies.
In 2014, the only safe bet is that consumers will lose choices and all Americans will emerge with less freedom.
James Gattuso is the senior research fellow for regulatory policy at The Heritage Foundation, where Diane Katz is a research fellow in regulatory policy.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Man dies after jump from Route 130 overpass onto passing tractor-trailer in Hempfield
- Pirates again approach Polanco about contract extension
- Reliever Holdzkom among three players cut by Pirates
- Beaver County school bus driver charged with sexual assault of student
- Former Pa. Gov. Corbett: From pension critic to collector
- 350-pound black bear briefly stuck between Uniontown buildings is relocated
- Rolling Stones roll into Heinz Field June 20
- Reversing the field: Pirates continue to raid Yankees for hidden skill
- Five is enough for Penguins’ defensemen
- NFL players Fitzgerald, Donald to lead Pitt in Blue-Gold spring game
- Fox Chapel softball team off to hot start