Thanksgiving is a time for… well… giving thanks. It is one of the truly American holidays, emphasizing gratefulness for the things we have, our way of life, and the prosperity of America. While it has been turned into a preparation day for Black Friday (I think of it like the feasting of Mardis Gras before Lent), the core of the holiday’s meaning is thankfulness for what we have.
Unfortunately, what we have has been dwindling over the last few years. Tax hikes, hidden consumer costs, and an ever increasing cost of living have been eroding away the financial stability of our great Nation. Now, with 2015 on the horizon, we can look forward to an exponential increase in the outgoing cash flow of both the citizen and American businesses.
The holidays are a spectacular time for the government to sneak something by the Masses. People are concerned with family time, cooking, parades, sports… everything BUT politics. This Thanksgiving season was especially advantageous. With the Michael Brown drama, immigration reform, and the upcoming long weekend for turkey-day, White House press officers saw a prime opportunity for a potentially upsetting announcement to get lost on the news cycle.
On Friday, November 21, 2014, the “Unified Agenda” was released. Governed by the “Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs – [sub] Office of Management and Budget” this plan sets in place 3,400 new regulatory actions. Most people have never even heard of this government agency. It answers directly to the President – and as part of the Executive Branch – it wields a lot of power.
So what is this “Unified Agenda” and what does it mean for the American people? In short, the UA is a master plan for the administration’s intent to implement new federal regulations. These regulations could involve the population, environment, commerce, or any number of other areas. At the core, these regulations are what “We the People” refer to as the “red tape” of bureaucracy.
In and of itself, the Unified Agenda is nothing especially nefarious. Every administration since 1978 has been required to publish a UA. It is a vital tool for tracking the large number of regulations and deregulations that are issued each year. Sam Batkins, the director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum, stated in an interview with the Daily Signal, “[UA] is typically a normal, boring list of regulations” released each fall and spring. Administrations do not typically wait until the holidays to release the UA. However, Batkins believes that the White House’s choice to hold announcement of the UA until Thanksgiving 2014 signifies that it sees it “as a politically charged document.” Why is it politically charged?
The Fall 2014 Unified Agenda has over 3400 new regulatory or deregulatory rules. That is a large number. In the first five years of the Obama administration, it only released a total of 157 major regulations (at a cost of $73 billion annually). In contrast, a study[i] by public policy experts James Gattuso and Diane Katz illustrated that the same period of the Bush 42 presidency saw only 62 new regulations implemented.
Of the 3,400 new regulations in the Unified Agenda, 23 of them are known as “big ticket” items. These 23 regulations stand to cause an immediate economic impact of $16 billion on an annual average. That impact is strictly made of outgoing costs, not economic stimulus. Additionally, that impact is accounts for the general maintenance of new regulation burdens, as well as the costs of compliance updates to the various industries affected. Those numbers add up to what would equal a $160 billion tax hike over the next decade (approximately equivalent to a 1% increase in payroll tax).
If the American people were told that their income taxes were to be raised this amount it would galvanize the population. However, with this financial impact hidden amongst regulations in the Unified Agenda, it has slipped past the Citizen with hardly a notice.
The trend of all administrations to sneak new costs and red tape by the American people through vague legislation is a disturbing trend. It has been seen in the fine print of Obamacare, the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulation Law, Bush 42’s Patriot Act, and an assortment of other legislative examples over the last three decades. The failure does not rest solely on the Obama White House or the Democratic Congress. The Republican party also has to share in this blame due to its inability to inform their constituents or to effectively combat these new costs. The blame must also be placed at the feet of the American people. The Citizen. As a Nation, “We the People” are more captivated by reality TV, and shortsighted enough that we only see the 24 hour news cycle. There are pertinent happenings every day that will affect the lives and well-being of Americans for generations to come. It is our responsibility to take notice, use our combined voice, and to reform this great United States.
Enjoy your turkey dinner, America.