Watchdogging Obama’s regulatory state

By Ron Arnold

If you’ve ever tried to start your own business, this will stir old hopes and frustrations: Shortly before President Obama‘s State of the Union speech last week, a new Washington watchdog group launched its first campaign with a report on “The Regulated State of the Union.” 

The Center for Regulatory Solutions – a project of a 20-year veteran of entrepreneurial advocacy, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council – had the temerity to call on Obama to “not just listen to concerns from small business owners, but to take concrete steps to alleviate the burden of over-regulation, which is stifling innovation and raising unnecessary costs that destroy jobs.” 

Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the council, deserves some applause for her straight talk — kerriganand congratulations on the center’s report, which shows that “an overwhelming majority of Americans think regulations are hurting the competitive advantage of America’s small businesses, and they want policymakers to put regulatory reform at the top of their agenda.” 

Predictably, though, no tinge of regulatory relief ruffled Obama’s threats-and-bluster State of the Union performance, but instead reinforced suspicions that our president was deliberately dismantling the nation with administration-wide sabotage of industry after industry. 

Americans from fishermen to insurance agents are getting tired of being victimized by their own government, said the report’s poll section: “68% believe regulations are created by ‘out-of-touch people trying to push a political agenda’ rather than by ‘well-intentioned people trying to address real challenges’ (26%).” 

Translation into street talk: Federal bigwigs purposefully crush our nation’s strength and spirit because they hate people in industry and delight in crushing them. 

The poll found that “72% believe that regulations are created ‘in a closed, secretive process’ while just 21% say they are created in an ‘open, transparent process.’ Three-in-five (59%) disagree that they could easily find out about what regulations the federal government is considering.” 

Street talk: Obamacrats know they’re destructive and fear what the public would do to them if they only knew. 

The most interesting poll question asked respondents to grade whether 10 sectors were “hurt more” or “helped more” by government regulations.  Here are the top five that respondents said were hurt more: America’s economic competitiveness with the world (67%), “Americans ‘like you’ ” (66%), entrepreneurs and small businesses (66%), American workers (66%) and employers (64%). Astonishingly, 52% said the environment was “hurt more” by regulations.

Good intuition: This Tuesday’s report by the House Endangered Species Working Group found the species protection law was hurting most species because of Green group lawsuits that listed hundreds of creatures at a time, which spread the workforce so thin that nothing got done.  

In 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has saved only 2% of listed species — creatures that recovered to the point they didn’t need protection anymore.   Two percent is one of the worst records for a failed law in history. Blame the lawyers of the Center for Biological Diversity and Wild Earth Guardians.

Kerrigan’s report offers some cogent “specific actions President Obama can support to improve transparency and accountability, as well as strengthen economic growth and investment and create jobs.” 

For example, Obama can support “[h]alting the Environmental Protection Agency‘s destructive greenhouse regulatory regime under the Clean Air Act to avoid raising electricity costs for all consumers, including small businesses.” 

The problem is, Obama won’t do that. That means we’re faced with the age-old question about great recommendations: Where’s the teeth? America still needs a toothy way to disempower bureaucrats before they disempower America. 

chloePerhaps such a plan is forming in the 11-year-old mind of Chloe Stirling, of Troy, Ill., who ran her cupcake-making business out of her parents’ kitchen for two years before the Madison County Health Department found out and shut her down. They told her to buy a bakery or a separate kitchen. 

Cupcakes aren’t the only dish best served cold. Give it a decade or three and this kid might reappear as a powerful neo-enlightenment judge who orders the local government to shut down all regulatory agencies in favor of citizen self-determination. 

Don’t laugh. People abused by enough despotism have been known to do all kinds of extraordinary things. 

Mikaila’s story would not have been possible in Obamaville!

By Duggan Flanakin

Just as we were reading about Chloe Stirling and her travails in Illinois, out of Austin, Texas, came this story, reported by Layton Copelin in the Austin American-Statesman (Feb. 8, 2014), “Austin lemonade-maker lands sweet market deal.”

The story goes like this:  Beginning at age 4, Mikaila Ulmer, whose father works in finance and whose mother works in mikailamarketing, began working with her father to develop a lemonade recipe that adds locally harvested honey, fresh mint, and flaxseed to fresh-squeezed lemons.

The recipe, now known as BeeSweet Lemonade, was judged most creative lemonade at the Austin Lemonade Day contest in 2011. Then a local pizza maker suggested she bottle the drink after a community meeting featuring his pies and her lemonade, and a local salad dressing manufacturer agreed to bottle the lemonade.

Now Mikaila’s sweet drink — born of her desire to overcome a fear of bees — is sold at Whole Foods in Austin as well as at many local cafes, food trailers, and natural grocers.

Mikaila, by the way, donates 20% of her profits to organizations that help save honeybees.  She is a true social entrepreneur — at age 9.

Good thing she lives in Texas — where entrepreneurship (even for many Obama supporters) is not a dirty word.  Mikaila, you see, did not develop her lemonade recipe in a professional kitchen — and only after her operation became too large to handle at home did she find a professional bottler.

Now what we really want are Chloe’s cupcakes and a tall glass of BeeSweet!

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About the Author: Ron Arnold

Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

About the Author: Duggan Flanakin

Duggan Flanakin

Duggan Flanakin is the Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. A former Senior Fellow with both the Texas and Arkansas Public Policy Foundations, Mr. Flanakin has a Master's in Public Policy from Regent University. During the years he spent reporting on environmental regulation in Texas and nationwide, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas.