Lobbyist Job Creation Act

By Chidem Kurdas

Happy Fourth of July! Don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but  the state of the Republic requires serious thought. Our government has managed to create endless opportunities, but not for ordinary people—only for political operators and influence peddlers, with the Obama Administration pushing some 4,500 pages of medical and financial regulation just in its first 18 months.

What is more, those reams of regulation are an epitome of vagueness, of “unfathomable murk” in the fine phrase Daniel Henninger used in the WSJ to describe the problem.  In the murk and the wide-open discretion given to public bureaucrats lie gems for lobbyists. The White House and Congressional Democrats – even as they chided business lobbies – maximized the bills’ scope and vagueness, laying the groundwork for massive growth in the crony system that intermingles government with private interests.

What we see is something James Madison predicted.   Continue reading

The Joy of Reading Financial Regulation

by Chidem Kurdas

The financial regulation bill approved last week by the House of Representatives does not, of course, refer to James Madison. But it might as well be an exhibit specifically created to demonstrate, by contrast, the advantage of limited and transparent government.

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice,” wrote Madison in Federalist Paper no. 62. “if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood …”

The 1,279 page “Financial Stability Improvement Act of 2009” – to use its official short title – gives new meaning to the words “voluminous” and “incoherent”.   It is like the preceding 1,502 page healthcare legislation, which is virtually unreadable, as Mario Rizzo pointed out.

Because I wanted to know what’s coming and was intrigued by Jerry O’Driscoll’s post on the topic, I plowed through Subtitles A and B about establishing the Financial Services Oversight Council and mitigating systemic risk. By the time I got to Subtitle C, having taken several hours to read  less than one-tenth of the whole, my attention was wondering.

But on p. 151 there was something that seemed out of place—a heading that says dental, vision or life insurance. The next page is on long term care insurance. Had some of the medical entitlement legislation made its way into financial legislation? Have the two monstrous bills got crossed? Are they breeding? Continue reading

We Have Come A Long Way

by Mario Rizzo  

This is more an intellectual experiment than a normal post. What I am asking you to do is to clear your mind of its cobwebs. Just “marvel” at the contrast between the classic statements of the limits of the federal government and the recent report in the Wall Street Journal:   

“The U.S. pay czar will cut in half the average compensation for 175 employees at firms receiving large sums of government aid, with the vast majority of salaries coming in under $500,000, according to people familiar with the government’s plans.

As expected, the biggest cut will be to salaries, which will drop by 90% on average. Kenneth Feinberg, the Treasury Department’s special master for compensation, also intends to demand a host of corporate governance changes at those firms.”

I am not here concerned with whether this is a good idea but I am simply in a state of naïve wonderment that we got to the point where this is legally possible. Continue reading