An excellent summary and point about returning regulatory function to Congress. But there is one other “advantage” executive bureaucracies find to the reams of regulations: lack of clarity. Bureaucrats have more coercive power when those they regulate can’t possibly keep all the rules straight. And Congress does this too when it makes the original laws that beget the regulations.
Back when Obamacare was new, I was trying to read it to summarize it in my original blog. It quickly became apparent that I didn’t have that kind of time. Nobody had that kind of time. From that old post:
To give a little perspective for exactly how onerous this thing is, I went looking for the length of some of the other statues in the news these days. I went looking, but I am a lawyer without Westlaw or access to bound US Code. Risking the snickering of paralegals and nurses and other professional assistant types without whom professionals would be lost, I couldn’t find the laws in the form I wanted. I had to ask my law librarian sister-in-law. Here is that correspondence:
ME: I am a lawyer without Westlaw and the public law sites are terrible for searching. I am looking for the entire laws: Sorbanes Ox, Civil Rights Act, McCain Feingold, Jones Act, OPA 90. I can’t find plain pdfs of these laws. Can you send me the page counts? I have a hunch this is a 5 minute project for you, the uber law librarian.
Kinsey: Yes, I can do this — hang on.
Ok. I pulled them from the GPO site, because they’re in PDF format with the Statutes at Large pagination so you can get an official page count. A couple of them are not available there (Civil Rights Act of 1964 is too old, and none of the public laws from the 101st — which includes the OPA — are live, and I don’t know why). I can look them up in USCCAN Tuesday if that’s okay.
Me: You rock. Thanks.
Kinsey: Civil Rights Act of 1964 37 pages
Sarbanes Oxley 66 pages
McCain Feingold 36 pages
The New Jones Act passed in 2006, recodified 46 USC, including the original Jones Act, so it’s long — 234 pages: (I think I’m right about the recodification) [She is right.]
Oil Pollution Act of 1990 91 pages
ObamaCare son of a bitch is 906 pages long
Financial Reform Bill — HR 4173 — Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 1616 pages
That’s a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sized chunk of legalese for Obamacare, and, what, a War and Peace sized chunk for Financial Reform? Sorbanes-Oxley had plenty of unintended consequences at 66 pages. It is difficult to fathom what unknown consequences lurk in 1616 pages of financial reform.
Half a decade on and now we know some of those consquences in finance and healthcare and in other, unintended, areas of impact. Those consequences are all good, right? And they were anticipated at least a little before they happened, yes? (Stop laughing. It’s really not funny — well, maybe as cathartic gallows humor.)