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The Reddest of Presidents

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

It’s clear the economy is seeing red.

A host of economists, who always seem to be the last to know, have cut GDP growth forecasts recently, in light of rising unemployment and falling manufacturing output. The latest to see the light at the end of the tunnel in its proper context as a speeding train coming right at us is Fannie Mae’s chief economist, Doug Duncan. Fannie Mae always seems to be the last-est of the last to know.   

“The data from the past month collectively point to decelerating economic growth, but growth nonetheless," noted Duncan in a statement by Fannie Mae. “It's now clear that our bias toward downside risks noted in the June forecast have materialized, pushing down our already modest growth projections.”

And, according to Newsday, poverty is approaching levels not seen since 1965.

“Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups,” says Newsday, “from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty, including in such political battlegrounds as Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where voters are coping with a new norm of living hand to mouth.”

That should not surprise anyone who has paid much attention to the administration over the past year. Despite increasing worry over lack of economic growth, the administration has done little to get the economy moving and much to prevent it from growth.

Last year, in a signal to business that perhaps he really did feel their pain, Obama appointed Chicago’s Bill Daley as his chief of staff. This allowed former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel to exit stage left to replace the other Daley- Richie- as mayor of Chicago.

And for a brief moment the chamber of commerce crowd thought maybe Obama was starting to be more business-friendly. But the Daley ascendancy lasted months, not years. And while Obama announced an effort to cut back on red tape and regulation, year three of Obama's economic-whatnot has been as tough on business as any year of Obama’s administration.

An update to last year’s report from Heritage, Red Tape Rising, says that “Despite this promise of restraint, however, the torrent of new rules and regulations from Washington continued throughout 2011, with 32 new major regulations. These new rules increase regulatory costs by almost $10 billion annually along with another $6.6 billion in one-time implementation costs.”

And that’s not counting Obamacare costs.

In fact, last year Obama’s own Small Business Administration calculated that the total cost to implement regulations in the country amounted to $1.75 trillion or 13 percent of GDP.

While some of that money is accounted for already in government outlays, it means that total cost of government (state, local and federal), which accounts for over 40 percent of our GDP in cash costs, is actually much higher than that when you figure in other costs like lost business and costs of compliance.

Might government costs be over 50 percent of our economy? Possibly. But for sure, government now is the single biggest factor in our economy whether the actual percentage of GDP it accounts for falls just below the 50 percent-of-GDP rate or just inches past it.

And we haven’t even gotten to the bad part either:

Warns Heritage: “This regulatory tide is not expected to ebb anytime soon. Hundreds of new regulations are winding through the rulemaking pipeline as a consequence of the vast Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law (the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act), Obamacare, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming crusade, threatening to further weaken an anemic economy and job creation.”

Total costs of all regulation will cost the economy close to $20 trillion in the next ten years, just using estimates from the Small Business Administration from 2011. In contrast, our yearly economic output is only $15 trillion. If Obamacare is implemented and Dodd-Frankenstein continues to turn on its masters, the costs, including lost opportunities for our economy, will be staggering.

Obama told us that for generations his election would be hailed as the moment the seas stopped rising and the earth began to heal.

But he neglected to mention how much it would cost us in red tape.

That red tape makes him the reddest of all presidents.

What? You expected something else?       

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