More Regulations, More Problems

Aug 26, 2013

Common sense dictates that the more complex a policy challenge, the simpler the rules and regulations should be. Otherwise you risk creating more problems and greater complexity than you started out with. But the administration doesn’t see it this way. At every turn, it has expanded and empowered the regulatory state. It has created a bloated bureaucracy that isn’t getting the job done. Need proof? Look no further than the Dodd- Frank Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—sweeping overhauls of the financial regulatory and health care systems that are falling short.

The 2,319-page Dodd-Frank Act calls for more than 400 new rules across 20 different agencies, creating duplication, contradiction, and confusion. Ironically, the law that was intended to end “too big to fail” is too complex to implement. It was conceived out of anger and with a misguided—and impossible—goal: eliminating all risk from the financial system. Three years after passage, amid missed deadlines and only 40% of the rules completed, the president convened regulators and urged them to speed things up.

The 2,400-page health care law created 159 new agencies, panels, commissions, regulatory bodies, and mandates. Some two and a half years after being signed by the president, the law has proven to be largely unworkable and an administrative nightmare. Though the administration insists that repealing the health care law would be disastrous, it has been significantly revising the law through regulatory delays, waivers, and “tweaks”—most often through dubious, unilateral action.

What adds insult to injury is that we do, in fact, need reform in each of these areas.

We need a sound financial regulatory system that will keep America’s capital markets vibrant so that businesses can grow and create jobs. But the answer is not to eliminate risk; it’s to manage it with clear, sensible regulations. We should fix what’s broken in Dodd-Frank, address the areas that are unresolved, and replace the provisions that are unworkable. Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber released its Fix, Add, Replace (FAR) Agenda to achieve those goals.

We need to control health care costs, expand access to coverage, and improve patient care. But the way to do it is through market-based solutions that are driven by the private sector—without government overreach. The Chamber recently issued a Health Care Solutions report to advance meaningful reform.

Though we’ll continue to work to minimize the negative impact of these laws, we can’t deny that Dodd-Frank and Obamacare have been costly, consequential lessons. Let’s hope this administration learns that when it comes to regulations, more isn’t always more.

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