What does it mean when a government agency can suddenly claim authority and change the rules governing massive sectors of our economy? Why should business make investments in new technologies and offer new services if a panel of three bureaucrats can undermine the hope of future profits?
The private sector is asking these questions. While many celebrated the recent tax bill for providing families, employers, and investors certainty about tax laws (even though this certainty will be short-lived, since most extensions sunset within two years), certainty about tax laws is just a small part of what entrepreneurs and companies need. They also need certainty about regulations. They need to know that agencies can't make the equivalent of new laws that will affect their businesses. They need to know that there will be a level playing field and that new mandates will be applied evenly, instead of being circumvented by an ad-hoc waiver process.
The American people increasingly recognize this, and see government as a cause of, rather than solution to, our nation's problems. The growing recognition of a government that is out of control is bigger than any single piece of legislation and larger than the total of our accumulated national debt. The problem is a government that knows no bounds and respects no process. New laws can dictate anything (you must buy health insurance today, who knows what tomorrow) and can emanate from anywhere (net neutrality from the FCC today, perhaps cap-and-trade energy taxes from the Environmental Protection Agency tomorrow).
American voters sent Washington a loud message in November. In 2011, our elected representatives need to prove that they understand that Americans don’t want an all-powerful government. If they don’t, the political class should expect an even larger political rebuke in 2012 to be the biggest story of that year.