CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

The Federal Register passed the 20,000-page mark in a big way, with Thursday and Friday’s editions alone accounting for more 1,200 pages. New regulations cover everything from macadamia insurance to net neutrality.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 57 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 39 new regulations the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 57 minutes.
  • So far in 2015, 850 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,872 new regulations this year, which would be several hundred fewer rules than the usual total.
  • Last week, 2,127 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,120 pages the previous week.
  • Currently at 21,533 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 72,747 pages.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Six such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.
  • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $693 million to $746 million for the current year.
  • 73 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
  • So far in 2015, 159 new rules affect small businesses; 25 of them are classified as significant.

Highlights from selected final rules published last week:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

Export-Import Bank Update

Things have been busy on the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank front. For those not in the know, the Ex-Im Bank makes loans and guarantees loans for U.S. exporters, as well as their foreign customers. For example, if a foreign airline wants to buy a new plane, Ex-Im will arrange favorable financing terms if it buys that plane from U.S.-based Boeing.

Ex-Im’s critics argue that the bank is a corporate welfare program, and is vulnerable to favoritism and corruption. I compiled several reasons to oppose Ex-Im in this paper. Ex-Im’s defenders counter that Ex-Im is necessary to increase U.S. exports and support American jobs, though buying that argument requires ignoring that 98 percent of U.S. exports happen without Ex-Im’s involvement, and that there are other, possibly better uses for the capital Ex-Im sits on.

Unlike most other agencies, Ex-Im has a built-in sunset, meaning it will automatically cease to exist unless Congress periodically votes to renew its charter. This led to a bitter political fight last fall, when Ex-Im’s charter was renewed until this June 30. Typical reauthorizations last for four or five years, so this nine-month reauthorization was a significant concession to reformers. As June 30 approaches, the Ex-Im battle is heating up once again. At this point, it appears Congress will hold a vote in May on Ex-Im’s fate.

This week, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing, where Ex-Im head Fred Hochberg (see his written testimony here) defended his agency from Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), who wants to close the bank.

Also this week, the Justice Department charged former Ex-Im employee Johnny Gutierrez with bribery. Over the period 2006-2013, Gutierrez allegedly accepted $78,900 of cash and other improper gifts. Diane Katz recently unearthed 74 cases of alleged corruption among Ex-Im employees from 2009-14, an impressive achievement for an agency with only 400 employees.

As Ex-Im’s beneficiaries turn up the political heat, rumors are swirling that Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who came out publicly against Ex-Im last year, is changing his mind and might favor reauthorization. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), who is sponsoring an Ex-Im reauthorization bill, has been working on McCarthy for some time. Boeing, which alone accounts for nearly half of Ex-Im’s business, has spent $69 million on lobbying since 2012, much of it in support of Ex-Im, and is pressing very hard to keep Ex-Im’s doors open.

Delta Airlines has been the loudest corporate voice opposing Ex-Im, but it has only spent $10 million in lobbying since 2012, barely one seventh of Boeing’s total. Delta argues that Ex-Im subsidizes its foreign competitors when they buy Boeing jets, putting Delta, which pays full price for Boeing’s planes, at an artificial disadvantage.

Finally, the bank claims to be a champion of small business, but as a new Mercatus Center paper by Veronique de Rugy and Diane Katz shows, Ex-Im heavily favors big businesses over small businesses

At this point it’s hard to say how this fight will end. The economic case against Ex-Im is airtight, and many key members of Congress want to close the bank. Inertia is the strongest force in politics and the closest thing to an immortal being is a government agency, but this is one issue where reformers have a legitimate chance of victory.

CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

It was a slower week than usual, with 34 proposed regulations and fewer than 40 final regulations covering everything from missile exports to hydropower. Even so, the 2015 Federal Register will likely top the 20,000-page mark on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 39 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 68 new regulations the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every four hours and 19 minutes.
  • So far in 2015, 779 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,822 new regulations this year, which would be several hundred fewer rules than the usual total.
  • Last week, 1,120 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,755 pages the previous week.
  • Currently at 19,406 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 70,312 pages.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Six such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.
  • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $693 million to $746 million for the current year.
  • 68 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
  • So far in 2015, 151 new rules affect small businesses; 25 of them are classified as significant.

Highlights from selected final rules published last week:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

It was a fairly typical week, with nearly 70 final regulations and more than 50 proposed regulations hitting the books, covering everything from potato handling to flying fuel cells. The big story to keep an eye out for is the preliminary version of the FCC’s net neutrality regulations, which should be appearing shortly. See here for CEI research on net neutrality.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 68 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 58 new regulations the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 28 minutes.
  • So far in 2015, 742 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,898 new regulations this year, which would be several hundred fewer rules than the usual total.
  • Last week, 1,755 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,398 pages the previous week.
  • Currently at 18,286 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 71,430 pages.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Six such rules have been published so far this year, none in the past week.
  • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $693 million to $746 million for the current year.
  • 66 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
  • So far in 2015, 146 new rules affect small businesses; 25 of them are classified as significant.

Highlights from selected final rules published last week:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

Along with last week’s usual slew of final regulations covering everything from power plants to televisions, an additional 55 proposed regulations also hit the books.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 58 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 68 new regulations the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 54 minutes.
  • So far in 2015, 674 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,856 new regulations this year, which would be nearly 1,000 fewer rules than the usual total.
  • Last week, 1,398 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,157 pages the previous week.
  • Currently at 16,531 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 70,047 pages.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Six such rules have been published so far this year, one in the past week.
  • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $693 million to $746 million for the current year.
  • Sixty-two final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
  • So far in 2015, 137 new rules affect small businesses; 23 of them are classified as significant.

Highlights from selected final rules published last week:

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.

Human Achievement of the Day: Guitars

When Human Achievement Hour rolls around each year, I make sure to do two things. One is to play an electric guitar. The other is to play an acoustic guitar.

Guitars are simple things. Stretch some thin metal wires over a plank of wood, and you’re most of the way there. Electric guitars add a few magnets wrapped in copper wire mounted underneath the strings, called pickups. This deceptively simple invention is one of the pinnacles of human achievement. Music made on guitars has brought unfettered joy to billions of people, most of whom have idea how to play one. Whether you like jazz, punk rock, flamenco, blues, death metal, or classic rock, guitars have enhanced your life. In a way, the guitar is one of the defining objects of modern Western culture.

Regular readers will likely be familiar with CEI’s “I, Pencil” video from a few years ago, inspired by Leonard Read’s famous pamphlet. Nobody can make a pencil on their own. It takes a network of literally millions of people cooperating to make something you can buy in a store for less than a dollar. The network of human cooperation surrounding guitars is arguably even greater.

For example, guitars made by Gibson, such as the Les Paul and the SG, are often made of mahogany wood, which grows mostly in Central and South America. Tennessee-based Gibson has to arrange with people more than a thousand miles away to harvest the lumber and ship it to Nashville, most of whom speak different languages and use different currencies. The fingerboards placed on top of the guitar’s neck are usually made of rosewood, native to Africa and Asia, presenting another coordination problem.

Fret wire, usually made of either nickel or stainless steel, relies on mining and smelting technologies, and requires precise math, skill, and specialized tools to install. Other hardware, such as a guitar’s bridge and nut, pickguard, and tuning pegs, present their own challenges.

Acoustic guitars use a soundboard, chambers, and soundholes in such a way that makes the instruments both loud and tuneful. Electric guitars instead use pickups, potentiometers, wires, soldering, and standardized connections leading to an amplifier powered by electricity. If a pencil is a miracle of cooperation, guitars are even moreso.

Part of the point of Human Achievement Hour is to celebrate modernity. So on March 28, sometime between 8:30 and 9:30, instead of merely leaving on the lights, I will pick up my electric guitar, plug it into my amplifier, and take in the pure, simple joy that comes with banging out distorted power chords. After that, I will pick up my acoustic and admire all the skill, elegance, and mastery of geometry and sound that went into making it. Nobody within earshot may much enjoy my point, but they will likely be thankful for two other human achievements: walls and doors.

CEI’s Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

New rules published in the last week include everything from the IRS and Executive Office of the President declaring themselves exempt from select transparency laws, to requirements for observing sea turtles.

On to the data:

  • Last week, 68 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 60 new regulations the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 28 minutes.
  • So far in 2015, 616 final regulations have been published in the Federal Register. At that pace, there will be a total of 2,852 new regulations this year, which would be nearly 1,000 fewer rules than the usual total.
  • Last week, 1,157 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 1,242 pages the previous week.
  • Currently at 15,133 pages, the 2015 Federal Register is on pace for 70,061 pages.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year. Six such rules have been published so far this year, one in the past week.
  • The total estimated compliance cost of 2015’s economically significant regulations ranges from $693 million to $746 million for the current year.
  • 59 final rules meeting the broader definition of “significant” have been published so far this year.
  • So far in 2015, 127 new rules affect small businesses; 21 of them are classified as significant.

Highlights from selected final rules published last week:

The Social Security Administration is revising its rules for providing evidence of disability for people seeking disability benefits.

For more data, see Ten Thousand Commandments and follow @10KC and @RegoftheDay on Twitter.