Last week was low-drama by recent standards, but still had some important developments. The U.S. trade deficit set a record for the second year in a row, which fortunately has nothing to do with economic health one way or the other. Meanwhile, regulatory agencies issued new regulations ranging from sewage incineration to pecan reporting.
The Michael Cohen hearing shenanigans gobbled up the headlines, but actual substantive news happened regarding talks with China and North Korea—in particular, a planned tariff increase from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods has been delayed “until further notice.” Meanwhile, agencies issued new regulations ranging from fiberglass mats to wax.
Senior Fellow Wayne Crews joined "The Bill Walton Show" on the Daily Signal to explain how to return the U.S. to the path of greater freedom and why “walling off the future” is critical to preserving as much liberty as possible.
Takings issues noted here are just the beginning of government neglect of the institution of private property, notable especially in emergent sectors. But the disdain for compensation is a feature, rather than a bug, of the administrative state. The very point of regulatory takings, as distinct from an outright seizure, is to circumvent and hide costs.
The federal government was on a four-day work week in honor of George Washington’s birthday, but agencies still found time to issue regulations ranging from frozen mango promotion to oral appliances.
Our friends at the American Enterprise Institute are doing a great job leveraging their many decades of experience in Washington, D.C. They've been raiding their archives and posting a series of TV programs the organization produced going back to the 1970s, long before the era of viral videos and streaming digital content.
Congress and President Trump passed a spending bill to avoid another shutdown, but President Trump’s national emergency declaration over a non-emergency provides a troubling precedent that future presidents could also abuse, regardless of how this battle plays out in the courts. Republicans are forgetting a cardinal rule of politics: never give yourself powers you don’t want the other side to have. Meanwhile, new regulations for the week range from telling time during emergencies to electronic olive grower meetings.
In my recent Forbes column “Rule of Flaw and the Costs of Coercion: Charting Undisclosed Burdens of the Administrative State,” I discuss some of the roots of bureaucratic governance and checks/non-checks on the administrative state. Given substantial gaps in what is known about the regulatory state, an overhaul of an archaic 20th century regulatory taxonomy that neglects and obscures regulatory burdens is warranted, so I presented an outline inventorying undisclosed and unfathomed costs of regulation, intervention, and burdens.
The Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 (APA) set up the foundation of the public consultation rulemaking procedure. Part one of this two-part glance at APA limitations covered rule cost categories prone to escaping measurement and disclosure; this column identifies some process/oversight shortcomings. There are far more extensive costs with respect to the administrative state as a phenomenon beyond mere execution of the APA (some are outlined here) that will be covered elsewhere.
The Midwest froze, but the Federal Register began to heat up. As I predicted earlier, the first three post-shutdown editions were slow. Then Thursday’s edition alone had 220 agencies notices and 447 pages, both well above normal levels. Thursday also saw the year’s first economically significant regulation, a 70-pager for H-1B visa applicants. On February 1, the Federal Register cracked 1,000 pages, which might be the latest date that has happened since 1959.