Victims of Government
The Cost of Excess Government
The Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy estimates that it costs Americans $1.75 trillion to comply with federal regulations each year. To put $1.75 trillion into perspective, that amount is larger than all but eight economies in the world. It also means that over 10% of the U.S. economy is spent on trying to satisfy rules issued by Washington bureaucrats. That doesn't even include federal, state, and local taxes.
This heavy regulatory burden diverts resources from innovation to compliance, discourages business investment, and chills job creation. It is no accident that as Washington adds new regulations, more and more Americans are unemployed and underemployed.
From 2003 to 2010, agencies did not publish Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) for approximately 35% of rules with a cost of $100 million or more. This number has nearly doubled since 1998. NPRMs alert the public that the agency is considering a regulation, gives the public the opportunity to comment on the proposed regulation, and allows the agency to use public input to revise the regulation. GAO found that when agencies consider public input while drafting legislation, the regulations are often improved and cost less.
Elected leaders need to carefully consider the costs and negative unintended consequences of unnecessary federal regulations. They need to remember that real people must comply with these regulations and that making them overly burdensome stifles American growth. This blog features just some of the victims of government.
Dec 05 2013
The story of Zina Murray, her innovative business, and how Chicago killed it leaving fifteen entrepreneurs without a home. Local and state governments should not impose barriers on new job creation by small business entrepreneurs through superfluous and anticompetitive business licensing. Learn more by reading Beth Kregor's report Space to Work: Opening Job Opportunities by Reducing Regulation part of the Big Ideas for Jobs project.
Originally published by the Institute for Justice
Dec 05 2013
National Review Online
Senator Ron Johnson announced Friday that he will be introducing legislation designed to let people keep their current health-care plans under Obamacare. The bill would grandfather currently existing plans into Obamacare and rescind a slew of new mandates the law put on those plans. Although President Obama repeatedly promised that under his health-care overhaul, individuals would be able to keep their current health-care plans, those new requirements have prompted insurance companies to cancel many existing plans.
In an interview, Johnson explains he began focusing on introducing the bill upon hearing the tragic story of some of his constituents who are being forced off their current plan.
Johnson describes the circumstances of a Wisconsin couple who turned to his office for help. They don’t want their names used in the press for fear of retaliation from the IRS.
The husband is 57, the wife 61. Both have cancer — the husband’s is in remission while the wife’s is in aggressive and expensive treatment.
The couple had been obtaining health insurance under Wisconsin’s high-risk-pool program, created in 1979, which provides health care to about 20,000 residents and is subsidized by a state tax on everyone else’s health-insurance plans.
Under that plan, the couple paid a premium of $767 a month and had out-of-pocket expenses capped at $10,000 a year, meaning their overall costs were around $19,000.
Eligibility for Wisconsin’s high-risk-pool program comes from being rejected by two commercial insurance companies. Under Obamacare, those companies can’t reject anyone because of preexisting conditions, so the high-risk pools will be eliminated. Wisconsin recently passed a law sunsetting the program, and as of January 1, the Wisconsin couple will need to find a new insurance plan in the midst of ongoing cancer treatments.
Finding information about enrolling in Obamacare has been a nightmare. The husband has tried to review plans at Healthcare.gov over 40 times at all times of the day and night with no success. He called the Obamacare 1-800 number two weeks ago. A friendly woman promised to send him a packet of information that never arrived.
In the meantime, the only place he can get any information is the insurance companies, which are providing him quotes that are roughly double his current costs.
The “bronze plan” doesn’t include necessary care, so the couple is looking at the “silver plan,” which starts at $1,400 a month. They are still trying to get an exact handle on the out-of-pocket expenses, but right now it appears as if the total cost will be in the range of $40,000.
The husband has been given three different estimates of the subsidies he will receive from the federal government, from $726 a month to $911 a month. Although that will soften the blow, they will still likely be paying more. (Nothing is certain yet given the rat’s nest of Healthcare.gov).
“We’ve doubled the cost of this guy’s health care. We’ve doubled it,” Johnson says, “and the only way we may make him whole – may – is if the federal taxpayer pays for half of his cost.”
As one can imagine, the situation is causing a lot of stress for the couple. They are trying to deal with cancer, uncertainty about how and where they will get health care 47 days from now, and hints that they will be paying substantially more for whatever plan they are forced into.
Although the story was an impetus for his bill, Johnson is frank that even his proposal can do nothing to avert the end of successful high-risk pool programs like Wisconsin’s. “Short of repealing Obamacare, high-risk pools are done,” he says. But the Wisconsin Republican is trying to protect as many people as he can from circumstances like these.
Originally published here by the National Review
May 29 2013
The recent revelations that the IRS has been profiling those opposed to Washington policies and then targeting them for additional scrutiny should serve as a frightening wake up call for every American. Constitutional rights are not limited just to those Americans the government prefers. We cannot have a federal government, with all its enormous power, pursue people and organizations with differing political or policy opinions from those in control. That kind of activity corrupts the very foundation of American freedom and unfortunately, is becoming more common place as Washington increases its power over the law abiding people it is supposed to be serving.
Catherine Engelbrecht has been waiting for nearly 3 years to receive 501(c)(4) approval from the IRS. During this time the IRS has asked her to submit nearly 300 responses and documents. Her group has been contacted by the FBI six times. Her personal and business tax returns have been audited. Her business has experienced multiple surprise visits from OSHA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Undoubtedly one of the most shocking aspects of this issue is that Catherine is not an isolated case. Dozens of other applicants have all suffered the same harassment. You can raise awareness and encourage oversight by sharing Catherine’s story.
You can also share your own experiences with the federal bureaucracy here.
"After retiring, Frankie and I started to clean up our land. We were shocked when one day we received a ‘Notice of Violation’ in the mail from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accusing us of violating the Clean Water Act by conducting unpermitted work in a ‘water of the United States.’”
He explained: “Given that we live in the high desert of New Mexico and the arroyo – like the rest of our property – is bone dry, we thought there was some mistake. We were really taken aback by the arrogance of the agency which didn’t even bother to call us or knock on our door.
“And we still can’t believe that the federal government can control what we do in our own backyard under the Clean Water Act when there is no water on our property! The real problem for us now is that we’re afraid to continue our cleanup and maintenance efforts because the Corps told us that we will be considered ‘knowing violators’ subject to civil and criminal liability if we do any more work without obtaining a permit.”
Smith said the lawsuit was launched “because we think the federal government has wrongfully trampled on our right to use and enjoy our property.”
“We don’t believe Congress ever intended to give the Corps power to regulate dry creek beds like ours and we want to help put an end to the Corps’ ridiculous interpretation of ‘waters of the United States."
Apr 01 2013
According to the SBA Office of Advocacy federal regulations impose a $1.75 trillion annual burden on the U.S. economy. One way to address this burden is by conducting retrospective reviews of existing regulations. Studies show that measuring and evaluating the actual results of regulations allows agencies to revise or eliminate regulations that are not working. Such reviews of existing rules can also help agencies make better rules in the future.
The administration has issued Executive Orders requiring agencies to examine existing rules and identify how they can be improved. In order to evaluate agency progress in conducting retrospective reviews and assessment of the costs and benefits of proposed rules I have joined Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) to ask the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review whether agencies have been conducting retrospective analysis and the outcomes of these reviews.
You can read the letter here.
Mar 28 2013
The Department of the Interior believes a perceived risk to birds is more important than a very real threat to human lives:
The Department of Interior decision to prohibit a road between King Cove and Cold Bay 25 miles away has ired Alaska's politicians, who made remarks after the decision.
Governor Parnell expressed deep frustration with the USFWS decision, saying , “I cannot fathom why the Fish and Wildlife Service prioritized a perceived risk to birds over an existing threat to human life,” Governor Parnell said. “After years of good faith efforts by the State of Alaska, the Alaska Legislature, the Aleutians East Borough, the City of King Cove, the King Cove Corporation, the Agdaagux Tribe, the Belkofski Tribe, and local residents to work with the federal government, the USFWS chose to deny King Cove residents access to basic services, like all-weather medical evacuation.”Read more here
Mar 26 2013
Read my letter to the Corps about Steve's problem.