Another year is flying by, and each time as I await the ever-delayed fall edition of the Unified Agenda of federal regulations I enjoy taking stock of the regulatory state at Thanksgiving time.
The trigger for no particularly good reason has been the White House pardoning of the turkey, a now decades-old tradition. This year, the lucky turkeys Chocolate and Chip received a Thanksgiving pardon from Joe Biden at the White House. Yes, now it’s two turkeys rather than one. Last year, they were Peanut Butter and Jelly.
In pondering their fate vs. ours with respect to govern lording over us, I have a column over at Forbes today called “This Thanksgiving, There’s No Shortage Of Big Government Turkeys.”
As the title might imply, the scene of today has changed a lot since I did surveys back when Trump was doing things like issuing “Deregulatory” rules and requiring the ejection of two rules for every one added. Granted, Trump had his own regulatory passions that I’ve covered in depth (see the lengthy “Swamp Things” section back in the 2021 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments). But the sentiment, the culture of the ones running the show on regulatory oversight was vastly different.
This is Biden’s second year; Federal Register page tallies, rule, and significant rule counts had already given off whiffs of edging back up to pre-Trump heights. And promises for such have been prevalent from Biden deputies writing preambles to the aforementioned Unified Agenda over the past 24 months. Best I can tell, Biden’s new appointee to head the regulatory oversight office shares in the top-down “net benefit” pursuits of left/progressives.
Now—and it’s a drum I’ve been beating a lot for the past year along with trying to get traction on an “Abuse-of-Crisis Prevention Act” so we don’t balloon the federal government yet again in the wake of another economic shock like COVID or the financial meltdown. (I detail Biden’s “Whole-of-Government” agendas in the new 2022 Ten Thousand Commandments.)
Among other things, there appears to be a massive 45 percent jump in rule counts between Biden’s first and second year, while the number of regulations issued by unelected bureaucrats is outstripping lawmaking by actual lawmakers. And given lapses in disclosure of regulations and interventions, there appears to be more rulemaking going on now than we actually know about.
Naturally, recommendations for the 118th Congress are noted in the Forbes piece. But we need to pay attention to the limitations of mere tweaks of the administrative state. With Biden disinclined toward regulatory liberalization, efforts of the incoming Congress need to stress laying a deep foundation for a future legislature to roll back Washington bureaucracy and restore lawmaking power to Congress … and then limit that power, too.
This holiday, and during future ones, too, it’s the public and small business that need the pardon. (Read more.)