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View from the Hill Blog: Paying Twice for Overregulation

By Nicole Palya Wood, National Grange View From The Hill Blog (8/11/11)

  AUGUST 13, 2011 --

It is tough to pick a place to start in highlighting the egregious volume of regulations coming out of Washington these days. From the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Transportation, the regulatory agencies seem to be bursting at the seams with overachievers and devote followers of the church of “more is better.” If it’s not the DOT calling for commercial drivers licenses for farm tractor operators (which even those of us inside the beltway think is laughable), it is the EPA requiring dairy farmers to draft and file exhaustive spill plans due to the fact that milk contains oils. Yes, this was a knee-jerk reaction to oil spills and they are serious about it.

Two weeks ago, Congressman Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) and Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) sent a letter to (EPA) urging the administrator to reconsider this proposed regulation and over 100 members of Congress from across the country signed it.  My question is why aren’t there 435 names on that letter? Does anyone really believe that this is a problem wreaking so much havoc that we have to spend millions to implement and even more to have our farmers and ranchers comply with it?

That in itself makes me angry, but I was reminded today of another insult we all suffer in silence and servitude. As a policy professional, I am constantly looking at regulation from the perspective of weighing the good and bad and searching for the balance between the intent of the regulation, the protection it seeks to provide, and the cost of compliance with those regulated. What I forget is that before any regulation is even passed, I am paying for each employee to come to work, have healthcare, earn retirement, etc. My taxes pay for these regulatory anomalies throughout the drafting, comment and vetting period, where, in other sectors of the world, these ideas would be highlighted on “News of the Weird.”

In the Cost of Government Report, published this week by the American for Tax Reform Foundation, they highlighted that over the last year “15 out of 18 federal agencies” have expanded their payrolls. If you combine that with the 2010 USA Today study that found the average federal salary exceeded private sector comparative salaries in 83 percent of industries, it is no wonder that our government is so big and so costly. Additionally, when you raise the budgets of regulatory agencies, which have actually more than doubled since 2000, the cost of goods and services goes up. This is proven as reported in yet another study by the Phoenix Center (April 2011). The study reported that the expansion of federal regulator budgets led to decreased economic growth and private sector job losses. According to the study, “a 5 percent reduction in the regulator budgets would increase GDP by $376 billion and expand employment by 6.2 million jobs over five years.” 

So first I have to pay for regulators to increase regulations. Then, I have to pay to comply with the regulations that they have created, regardless of how unnecessary, and while I’m coughing up all of this tax and compliance money, I am in turn contributing to the economic downturn and the reduction of American jobs. Free enterprise and a revolt against unfair taxes built this country and I strongly believe that they will be the bootstraps that we grab to navigate us safely through the regulatory mire that strangles our economy. However, we must continue to let the sunlight in and expose these agencies and their overreaching agendas…our jobs depend on it.

-Nicole Palya Wood
National Grange Legislative Director

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