Advancing a Free Society

Regulation ad Absurdum

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shortly after he was elected president, President Barack Obama promised substantial budget cuts. He said officials would "go through our federal budget—page by page, line by line—eliminating those programs we don't need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible, cost-effective way." But within two years, the profligate spending of his administration and the Pelosi-Reid-led Congress have bloated federal departments and agencies to unprecedented levels.

Nowhere has this out-of-control spending been more marked than at the federal regulatory agencies. The "gatekeeper" agencies, such as the EPA, USDA, and the FDA, which must approve innovative products and technologies before they come to market, received especially generous increases in funding. Yet, instead of spurring greater efficiency and improved performance, the agencies’ additional revenues have caused "regulatory creep"—the arrogation of additional, extra-statutory responsibilities—and more aggressive assertion of their powers in the form of new regulations. These ever-increasing, stultifying regulations squander public- and private-sector resources, stifle innovation, slow economic growth, and prolong high unemployment levels.

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