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E News 12/9/11

The Week Just Past: Reining In Excessive Regulation

Washington’s Red-Tape Factory is Humming

Applying Investment Rules to Congress

New VA Tools for Veterans Seeking Jobs

China: Their First Aircraft Carrier

The Week Just Past: Reining In Excessive Regulation

“I came away from a meeting this morning with members of the Somerset Business Partnership in Bridgewater even more convinced that that we can't have a strong economy unless our small businesses are doing well. 

“Today, they're not doing well. Many are hurting.

“The recession may be technically over, but according to the nation’s largest small business organization, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the outlook among our small businessmen and women is gloomy.  In the NFIB’s latest Small-Business Optimism survey, they say their No. 1 concern is still ‘weak sales,’ followed by burdensome, oppressive government regulations and taxes.

“There’s no doubt about it: small businesses can lead our recovery, but they aren't going to hire new employees if they're worried about keeping the lights on. They aren't going to expand if they're worried about the reams of new regulations coming out of Washington or a new health care law that's going to jack up costs without doing much to improve access to affordable coverage.

“The House passed yet another jobs-related bill this week.  The Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS), would require any new, major regulation—defined as one that would cost more than $100 million, lead to a major increase in consumer prices, or adversely affect employment—to be approved by Congress.

“Of course, regulation is necessary in a functioning society.  Regulation is not necessarily bad.  But duplicative, expensive, overreaching, unnecessary regulation is.

“And believe me, we have plenty to rein in!

“Over the past few years, the cost and number of new regulations have skyrocketed.  This increase did not begin with President Obama, but it has accelerated markedly during his presidency. From Inauguration Day 2009 through March of this year, regulatory agencies imposed some 75 major new regulations (costing $100 million or more), imposing some $38 billion of new costs annually on the economy and consumers.

“This is on top of the continuing burden of the existing load of red tape, which has been estimated at some $1.75 trillion per year!

“REINS would significantly change the way regulations are imposed. Congress would no longer be able to pass fuzzy legislation and disclaim further responsibility. This bill increases Congress’s own accountability for regulatory policy.

“Of course, requiring explicit Congressional approval for new rules is no panacea for excessive regulation, but it is a common-sense step forward.

“And the families of New Jersey – struggling with unemployment and economic uncertainty- are counting on us to keeping taking common-sense steps forward.”

                                                          Rodney Frelinghuysen

Recommended Reading: The Wednesday editorial in the Wall Street Journal,Some Welcome House Rules, The New Regulatory Reform Movement.

Washington’s Red-Tape Factory is Humming

Appropriate and responsible regulations are important, helping to keep Americans safe and our environment clean. Yet, Washington has become a “red-tape factory” that effectively stunts job creation with a bewildering number of regulations written by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats with little or no regard at all for the jobs each will cost.

Existing federal regulations are already estimated to cost $1.75 trillion per year!

And yet, more rules and regulations are on the way!

Last year, the Obama Administration cranked out 3,271 new regulations, about nine regulations per day.

Today, federal agencies have another 4,257 new regulations in the works.  219 of these proposed or draft regs will cost over $100 million annually. (In 2009, there were 78 such rules issued.)  

At a time when job creators are fighting to survive in an already tough economy, thousands of additional regulations will only result in fewer private sector jobs – hitting small businesses particularly hard. For businesses with fewer than 20 employees, the per-employee cost was $10,585 — 36 percent higher than larger businesses.

Congress and the Administration should be cooperating on removing barriers to small-business job creation, not adding more roadblocks to recovery.

With passage of the REINS Act this week, the House has now approved 15 regulatory-relief bills. NOT ONE has been voted on by the U.S. Senate, even though job creators tell Congress that Washington regulations are destroying their businesses.

Recommended Reading:  George Will in the Thursday Washington Post, “Choking on Obamacare.

Applying Investment Rules to Congress

A few weeks ago, the CBS news program “60 Minutes” aired accusations of “insider trading” lodged against Members of Congress.  Unlike investors on Wall Street, Members of Congress and their staff are not held legally responsible for profiting from the nonpublic information they gain from doing their official duties. 

“When it comes to the stock market and other investment arenas, there is no good reason that Congress should not have to play by the same set of rules as everyone else,” Rodney declared.  “Standards that have been applied to Wall Street should be applied on Capitol Hill.  And if any Members have violated those standards, they should be called to account!”

To apply to Congress the same rules that are applied to others, Rodney has cosponsored the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act,” or STOCK Act. 

H.R. 1148 would:

·        prohibit, by SEC rule, any members of Congress, Congressional staff, or Executive Agency employee from buying or selling stocks, bonds, or commodities based on nonpublic information they obtain because of their status;

·        prohibit, by SEC rule, anyone outside of Congress or the Executive Branch from making investment decisions on nonpublic information received from a Member of Congress, Congressional staff, or Executive Branch employee;

·        prohibit, by House Rule, Members or staff from disclosing material nonpublic information to individuals or firms if they believe that information will be used to inform stock trading decisions;

·        require Members of Congress and staff (those subject to financial disclosure requirements) to report the purchase, sale, or exchange of any stock, bond, or commodity transaction exceeding $1,000 within 90 days.

“Regrettably, the American people have doubts about Congress,” Rodney said.  “The STOCK Act is a step in the right direction as we work to restore the people’s faith in our work of democracy.  I hope the leadership schedules a vote on this bill as soon as possible.”

Recommended Reading:  “N. Gregory Makiew captures how poorly informed some Harvard student protestors seemed to be in his New York Times column "Know What You’re Protesting.

New VA Tools for Veterans Seeking Jobs

Veterans now have on-demand access and can download official data about their military training and experience, which can be used to help them find jobs.  Their service data can be uploaded to job search and networking sites to help identify employment opportunities. 

As of last weekend, veterans can use the VA’s online My HealtheVet portal (www.myhealth.va.gov) to see official information about their military service, including deployment data, in-uniform experience, and Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) codes which define the type of work performed and skills learned during their tour of duty.  Veterans can electronically download that information to their personal computers by using an enhanced version of the “Blue Button.” 

With their MOS codes, Veterans can more easily substantiate that they possess the skills needed by employers.”

Military job information available to veterans under this program will depend on discharge or retirement date.

·        All Veterans discharged after 1980 will see military specialty or classification codes;

·        Some Veterans discharged between1975-1980 will see military specialty or classification codes;

·        Some Gulf War Veterans may see combat pay and deployment periods;

·        All Post-9/11 Veterans will see combat pay and deployment periods

Veterans enrolled in VA health care can access their military service information through My HealtheVet.  Veterans who have not yet signed up for My HealtheVet access can register for a My HealtheVet account at any VA medical center by completing a one-time identity-verification process to help assure their data privacy.

“Smart employers seek out veterans for the excellent training, leadership skills and unique experiences they bring to the civilian workforce,” said Rodney, a veteran of the Vietnam conflict.  “This new VA capability gives them easy, state of the art access to the official data that could help them land their next meaningful job.”

China: Their First Aircraft Carrier

Recommended Reading: China continues its military build-up.  Read “What Will China’s Carrier be Used For?” on DefenseTech.org.