A while back I posted some thoughts on how our country’s recent regulatory binge is killing the American dream. My general idea was this: Gorging on new regulations not only costs each American real dollars, but it also greatly inhibits the movement of businesses into and out of markets. Eventually, most individuals will lack the skill and or capital to enter these markets and these markets will, therefore, eventually morph into quasi-government units. (Stunning analysis, right?)
According to a recent New York Times article, this wasn’t the original plan. He was forced into it:
Once a presidential candidate with deep misgivings about executive power, Mr. Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history.
Blocked for most of his presidency by Congress, Mr. Obama has sought to act however he could. In the process he created the kind of government neither he nor the Republicans wanted — one that depended on bureaucratic bulldozing rather than legislative transparency. But once Mr. Obama got the taste for it, he pursued his executive power without apology, and in ways that will shape the presidency for decades to come.
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., writing in The Wall Street Journal calls horse feathers on this. His basis for this? Well, Jenkins points out that from the January 2010 special election resulted in the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts through three successive congressional elections, the president was never presented with a mandate for any of the changes he wrought. As Jenkins notes,
If Mr. Obama was “deeply frustrated,” the reason was the American people’s lack of support for his agenda. And what the Times calls his regulatory strategy would better be described as unbridled rent seeking.
The examples he provides are stark:
Mr. Obama’s bank policy dramatically consolidated the banking industry, which the government routinely sues for billions of dollars, with the proceeds partly distributed to Democratic activist groups.
His consumer-finance agency manufactured fake evidence of racism against wholesale auto lenders in order to facilitate a billion-dollar shakedown.
His airline policy, urged by labor unions, led to a major-carrier oligopoly, with rising fares and profits.
His FDA is seeking to extinguish small e-cigarette makers for the benefit of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma (whose smoking-cessation franchise is threatened by cheap and relatively safe electronic cigarettes).
His National Labor Relations Board, by undermining the power of independent franchisees, is working to cartelize the fast-food industry for the benefit of organized labor.
I think a lot of the Trump-mania has to do with some folks feeling like the Republican majorities have been a bunch of do-nothings. The do-nothing label is true to a certain extent, but there wasn’t much the do-nothings could do in this regulatory era, short of shutting down the government. And that was never going to happen.