The decade's most triggering comedy
Over his two terms, President Barack Obama unleashed a copious amount of regulations, his administration adding thousands of pages to the Federal Register, which now totals 97,110 pages of regulations, a record number.
Here are 11 of Obama’s worst regulations imposed by his administration.
1. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan requires reductions of carbon dioxide levels by 32 percent and is estimated to cost $366 billion, resulting in double-digit increases in Americans’ energy bills and pricing out the creation of new coal power plants. It is one example of the EPA’s war on coal.
2. The EPA’s Ozone Standard regulation. The EPA revised the ozone standard at 70 ppb, which will result in pushing “hundreds of communities out of compliance, and force states to devise plans to limit industrial activity and transportation projects, as well as replace existing emissions control equipment with more advanced (and costly) systems,” according to The Heritage Foundation. The yearly compliance cost is an estimated $1.4 billion.
3. Net Neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to regulate the Internet under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, subjecting the previously unregulated industry to a wide swaths of regulations, including one that “allows the FCC to prevent any practice by an Internet access provider that the FCC believes will ‘unreasonably disadvantage’ an Internet user, application, or content provider,” according to National Review. Net neutrality will also enable the FCC to becoming the sole authority on “which tradeoffs and business models are acceptable.”
“So when providers are unsure about whether a new technology or business model ‘unreasonably’ harms some Internet constituency, they can submit those prospective plans to the Commission and pray for an affirmative (and timely) advisory opinion,” writes George Mason University research fellow Brent Skorup. “These advisory opinions border on Kafkaesque. The FCC can decline the request for an opinion, can permit the innovation, or can require more information from the submitting party. These opaque determinations cannot be appealed, and affirmative decisions can be reversed at the agency’s whim.”
4. The Labor Department’s regulations phasing out private retirement savings accounts. The Labor Department spat out new rules in 2016 that raise the standards for those providing financial advice for private 401(k) retirement plans, while exempting federal retirement plans from such rules – thus creating incentives for people to move away from private retirement plans and into government-run plans.
“Considering how the government has handled Social Security over the years, this is a terrifying scenario that will ultimately lead to 1) individuals saving less for retirement 2) the government raiding retirement accounts to pay for other programs 3) more government dependency,” writes Town Hall’s Katie Pavlich.
5. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulations on e-cigarettes. The FDA unleashed e-cigarette regulations in August, some of which didn’t spark much controversy – including prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and requiring photo identification – but other regulations on the product will be an undue burden on manufacturers that will raise costs.
“E-cigarette manufacturers now have two years to go through a long and expensive application process for each and every product that they wish to remain on the market after 2018,” writes The Hill’s Caroline Kitchens. “That is, unless they can prove ‘substantial equivalence’ to a product that existed before the Tobacco Control Act’s arbitrary ‘deeming date” of Feb. 15, 2007—but that would be near impossible since e-cigarettes are such a new technology.'”
Kitchens also notes that the cost estimates are as high “as $1 million for each product.” This is significant because e-cigarettes have proven to an effective method in helping smokers reduce their addiction to cigarettes.
“They’re endangering millions of past, current and future smokers who are addicted to a product already known to be deadly and who may be able to make the switch to a lower-risk nicotine product if presented with desirable alternatives,” writes Kitchens.
6. The artificial trans fat ban. In 2015, the FDA issued a ban on trans fats for being linked to heart disease. However, the amount of intake on trans fats have already been on the decline for quite some time, and current consumption levels of trans fats are actually at levels that are harmless. Consequently, the ban will endanger foods like frozen pizza, doughnuts and Reese’s Pieces, while also further restricting consumer choice.
7. The regulation allowing men to use women’s bathrooms and vice versa. Buildings under the purview of the federal government are now required to allow a person to enter a bathroom of his or her choice regardless of biological sex depending on how they “identify” – a regulation that defies science and endangers women and girls.
8. The EPA can now regulate a puddle. The EPA’s Waters of the United States rule expanded the agency’s purview under the Clean Water Act to include “isolated wetlands, ponds and ditches” since the definition of “waters” is incredibly vague.
“Beyond being an affront to individual liberty, this will restrict investment, hurt property values, and curtail property tax revenues,” writes The Heritage Foundation. “Farmers, too, are deeply concerned that their land-use practices will be restricted, thereby reducing their productivity—and income.”
9. Dodd-Frank. The bureaucratic nightmare that is Dodd-Frank is filled with so many onerous rules and regulations that the whole thing deserves to be called out. Via The Heritage Foundation:
Five years in and the hundreds of regulations mandated by the Dodd–Frank financial regulation act continue to arrive: six in 2015, with billions of dollars in new annual costs. Indeed, virtually no aspect of the securities and banking systems remains unaffected by the act, which encompassed 850 pages of legislative text.
As of the end of 2015, 271 rulemaking deadlines had passed, and rules were finalized for 75 percent of them. Proposed rules are pending for another 34 (12.5 percent), while there remain 33 rulemakings still outstanding.
New margin and capital requirements for some swap dealers, a joint rulemaking among five agencies, were the second costliest regulation of 2015, at $4.7 billion annually.
Dodd–Frank also mandated new data collection requirements for mortgage lenders, which were implemented—and then some—in 2015 by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The 797-page rule produced by the bureau vastly exceeds the authority provided under Dodd–Frank. Instead of just nine data fields, lenders will have to report 45 separate data points about mortgage applicants, borrowers, and the underwriting process; the property securing the loan; features of the loan; and other unique identifiers.
Among the most politicized regulations of 2015 was the Pay Ratio Disclosure rule issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The rule requires a public company to disclose the total pay of its CEO and its median-paid employee, and the ratio between the two. The “disclosure” is not material to assessing the expected return from investing in a company, which historically has been the purpose of disclosure rules. Instead, the Pay Ratio Disclosure is intended to highlight “income inequality’ as a political device. But such requirements impose unwarranted costs that reduce the return on shareholder investments. And, by adding to already voluminous disclosure requirements, they make it more difficult for investors to find more important material.
10. Obamacare’s birth control requirement. The health care law requires employers to provide contraceptives like “intrauterine devices and the so-called morning-after pill” that violate the religious beliefs of some faith-based nonprofits like Little Sisters of the Poor, which would be subject to a $70 million yearly fine if they violate this regulation. Not only does this regulation violate religious liberty, it also is an overreach of government authority–it should not be involved in a matter between individuals and their employers.
11. The Department of Energy’s efficiency standards. The DOE implemented absurd energy efficiency standards for appliances like air conditioners, dishwashers and clothes dryers in 2015, which came on top of energy efficiency standards for equipment like “fluorescent lamps, commercial icemakers, ceiling fans, vending machines, industrial equipment, and boilers” that added $1.6 billion in regulatory costs, per The Heritage Foundation.