Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nickel and Diming, Part II - Regulations

   Now that the bloom is off the "jobs-saved-or-created" rose, the Obama administration is turning to "regulations eliminated" to bolster its pro-business credentials.  At a meeting of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness this week, the President touted the drive by his administration to cut down on unnecessary regulations that weigh down business and stifle commerce.  He chose to highlight the success of the Federal Communications Commission:
 " So, for example, the FCC, prompted by our request but also due to some excellent work by Julius Genachowski, they’ve already eliminated 190 rules -- 190.  And that gives you some sense of the scale of the work that can be done as a consequence of some of your recommendations."
However, an analysis of the FCC's own report casts doubt on the efficacy of the regulation cutting program.   According to the report, the figure of 190 regulations eliminated dates from January 2010 to the present.  Over half of the rules eliminated were in a single section of the FCC code: "Part 1, Subpart D Broadcast Applications & Proceedings (duplicative of rules in Part 73)." [emphasis added]  Eliminating duplicate rules is far different than actually reducing regulation.  Another entry reads: "Describes the Commission’s former 'protest' process.  By its express terms, it does not apply to applications filed on or after December 12, 1960." (Yes, as in 52 years ago.)  Another dozen or so rules related to "Broadcast Flag" regulations which, as far as I can determine, were determined to be invalid by a court in 2005.  If these examples are representative of the whole, the cause for celebration may be rather overblown.  Even the chairman of the FCC referred to the regulations being eliminated as "obsolete."  What's next?  A Department of Transportation press release announcing an easing of horse-and-buggy standards?
   I have not completed a comprehensive review of all 190 changes, nor am I asserting categorically that no legitimate and potentially helpful reduction in regulation is taking place.  But as I noted last week, large numbers do not always translate into correspondingly large real-world benefits.  The President said that "190 [rules eliminated] gives you some sense of the scale of the work that can be done[.]" In this case, I think the President has his thumb on the scale.


Thank you, Power Line, for the link.


  1. Great article. Already tweeted it out.

  2. The great "bonfire of the regulations" in the UK in the early 90s consisted mainly of getting rid of medieval rules that had either fallen into complete disuse or were regarded as "quaint" and part of what made England England.