Most Americans want government off their back.
A whopping 59 percent say they’d like to send a “leave me alone” message to Washington, while only 32 percent say their message is “lend me a hand.”
People are fed up with government bossing them around. This, according to an August 14th Fox poll of registered voters. It suggests Republicans have a good shot at wresting House and Senate seats from Democrats in the fall elections, provided GOP candidates boldly commit to scaling back the mountain of laws and regulations smothering John Q. Public.
Almost two hundred years ago, the French observer Alexis de Tocqueville warned Americans about a new kind of despotism, not the tyrannical kings of Europe but rather the tyranny of too many laws. He predicted the people’s own elected lawmakers would generate stifling regulations meant for their own good. Such a network of “complicated rules,” he warned, “enervates, extinguishes and stupefies a people.”
That is precisely how Americans feel.
Andrew Puzder, CEO of Hardee’s and other chain restaurants, says the regulatory maze has gotten so bad that it’s easier to open a restaurant in Siberia than in California. His U.S. franchises have increased in number by only 2 percent over the last three years, but overseas they’ve increased by 53 percent.
Anthony Davies of Virginia wanted to open a micro-brewery, but the start up regulations dissuaded him. Regulations have been dampening entrepreneurship for decades. U.S. business start-ups and expansions have declined every year since 1989, according to a Brookings Institute report in May.
That’s a quarter century of stagnation.
Regulations also reduce Americans’ purchasing power. New Obama administration regulations add $44 to the price of a dishwasher and a whopping $1,357 to the price of a car, according to the American Action Forum.
The biggest regulatory assault on personal freedom is Obamacare, which compels you to buy health insurance, dictates what it covers and how doctors treat patients.
Get ready for more intrusions.
The Clean Water Act was passed to protect rivers and lakes — a good thing — but a proposed expansion would apply to property that floods during heavy rains, even your backyard.
So far, proposals to stop this loss of freedom are lame, half measures. Philip Howard, author of the interesting new book "The Rule of Nobody", says Congress should appoint independent commissions to review regulations and cull out useless and pesky ones.
Don’t count on that to work. Members of Congress don’t read bills before they enact them and don’t read reports by the commissions they appoint.
The federal government needs to be downsized with an ax, not a scalpel.
Start with eliminating several departments of government that the U.S. Constitution didn’t intend, such as Education and Interior. It’s perfectly legal. In 2013, the Congressional Budget Office reported on eliminating these and other federal departments as a way of reducing the deficit. But the bigger benefit would be sweeping away the thousands of regulations enforced by these departments and precluding more from being churned out. Reagan proposed eliminating the federal role in education in 1980, but since then it’s gotten larger.
State and local lawmakers are compounding the public’s distress. New York and California are the worst offenders, according to Chief Executive Magazine. New York is tagged the “least free state” of all fifty by the Mercatus Center.
New Yorkers dodged a liberty-killing bullet in June, when a court denied New York City’s final attempt to ban large sodas. The city had argued that its health department should be able to ban anything, as long as its rules are based on science.
Scary thinking. It’s what Republicans need to loudly repudiate.
On August 7, Democrat Rep. Rosa De Lauro of New Haven, Connecticut introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to slap a tax on sweetened drinks — yet another strategy to control what we eat. It won’t pass anytime soon, but she proudly says it’s just a matter of time.
Latter-day tyrannical kings like DeLauro, who presume to know what’s best for all of us, ought to be ridiculed, not re-elected.
Reagan put it well, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”
Betsy McCaughey is a patient advocate, constitutional scholar, syndicated columnist, regular contributor on Fox News and CNBC, and former lieutenant governor of New York. In 1993 she read the 1,362-page Clinton health bill, warned the nation what it said, and made history. McCaughey earned her Ph.D. in constitutional history from Columbia University. She is author of "Beating Obamacare 2014" and "Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution." For more of Betsy's reports, Go Here Now.
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