They regulate, of course, and leave their marks on the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations. They will breathe a second wind into President Obama's era of massive, growing, gargantuan government, and they will be as proud to have done so as I and other veterans of the Reagan years are proud to have done our part to shrink the government as the young second-string of the late '80s.
The coming collective effort of the replacement Obamians is the regulatory Vesuvius I mentioned above: the looming explosion of rulemakings, notice-and-comment proceedings and administrative edicts that will rain down on the private sector with all of the destructive force of a volcanic eruption. Paper, not lava, will flow down and cover the land.
It has already begun. And despite these early rumblings and quakes, private sector businesses are ignoring the signs just as folks living in the vicinity of Vesuvius did in 79 A.D.
The Friday before Easter the EPA announced it was moving ahead with the publication of its draft "final rule" on the sulfur content of gasoline. Long stalled at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and Budget, the launch of this massively expensive exercise in ideology marks the beginning of the real work of the president's second term: the tightening of the green grip over everything.
This single rule will raise the cost of every gallon of gas by at least a nickel and perhaps as much as a dime--forever. Calculate the cost of that on your pocketbook. Then add in what it will do to the price of everything you consume. Welcome to the president's encore production of Out Of Control Government.
Of course regulation eruptions will occur across the entire vast mountain range of agencies. Just visit www.regulations.gov to see for yourself what is in the long, long, and jammed-full pipeline.
This is great news of course for lawyers like me and my partners and associates who must translate this vast blizzard of paper into actual guidance for clients. My colleague Liz McNulty, for example, stands watch over the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the EPA as well as the endless birthing process of California's "Green Chemistry" rules, trying to keep clients in business and far from the new rules' jagged edges. She will have to be twice her busy self soon.Cyrus Wilkes specializes on the agenda of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has developed skills in the arcane world of conservation easements which is as obscure as the Rule Against Perpetuities, but clients must comply.
This is the way it is and will be for as long as the House of Representatives refuses to attach "riders" to spending bills that ban new rules --a favorite tactic of House Democrats in the second term of Ronald Reagan, when the Gipper's second team was busy giving his second term a second wind. Those Dems of that era had no taste for standing aside, and the House GOP of 2013 ought to follow their example.
Not likely, I told my lawyer friends. Much more likely that the House GOP would play a longer game, and that businesses would have to stay alert and embrace the new rules as best they could.
No wonder the speeches generated some smiles at the end. The bottom line is that the lawyers are going to do pretty well through this crack-up.
But not the overall economy.
A note: I do a lot of speaking, to all sorts of groups, and many of my radio guests do as well. So I have launched a very easy to use speakers' bureau: HewittSpeakers.com. Check off all the names of the folks who appeal to you --they are presently divided into the categories of politics and faith-- and list your honorarium and your travel budget. My cracker jack tech team at Fusion relays the offer to whomever you have deemed eligible, and presto, first come first serve.
A warning: if you want Dennis Prager, include some cigars in the offer.