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Obama's Regulatory Puffery

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

When in doubt, President Obama is quick to push for more government regulations as a universal cure to all problems. No matter what the problem, be it health care, financial reforms, small business growth, taxation, Team Obama tells Americans that new regulations that will expand governmental control and operations, are vital.

What Obama fails to realize is that more regulations piled atop the already huge regulatory thicket, are not the solution to the problems this nation faces. Moreover, new regulations and the corresponding expansion of government, are likely to create far more problems and continue to hobble economic growth. Daily, Barack Obama continues to push the need for new regulations even as his Administration finds it too tedious to enforce the regulations that now exist.

Every day, Americans can see examples of the Obama Administration's willingness to bypass existing rules and regulations. In the recent clown-lavish travel scandal at the General Services Administration (GSA), the government's procurement agency, the government did not follow its own rules regarding federal travel and conferences. The GSA, which, ironically, sets the travel rules for the rest of the federal government, ignored the regulations which sets the hotel room rate in Las Vegas for $99, and the food and incidentals rate per diem rate for $70, and the gift award rate of $99.

The squalid events at GSA remind us that cutting wasteful government spending does not require new and complicated regulations or further expansion of government as Team Obama suggests. Instead, had Obama’s political appointees been willing, or able, to enforce the sensible regulations that now exist, no taxpayer money would have been lost. Yet strangely, Barack Obama’s senior political appointees decided, instead, to approve the "exceptions" or "waivers" to the federal government's travel policies, costing taxpayers millions.

Since regulation §301-11.25 in the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) requires federal employees to provide receipts for most expenditures, and regulation §301-11.11 requires government workers to use the agency's travel service to make lodging reservations, Americans have an even more unsavory example of Obama’s senior political appointees violating the very rules that they are directly responsible for enforcing. Not exactly leadership by example.

What is especially troubling is the unusual lengths and contortions that Mr Obama’s political appointees used to escape existing regulations and blow through legal spending caps. GSA political appointees decided to grant an exception to the existing rules, which is allowed by FTR (§301-11.301-303), but is reserved for unusual events and only if a leader designated by the Agency signs off on the exception.

Americans might have more sympathy for the GSA political leaders had they been involved in legitimate efforts to helping small businesses, entrepreneurs, women owned companies, and veteran owned start-up to participate in federal bidding for government contracts --but getting IPods as awards for silly, offensive videos praising the wasting of taxpayer dollars is hardly a good use of the exception rule.

Get ready for the inevitable. President Obama is almost certain to propose new and tougher rules for government travel in and effort to demonstrate his seriousness. But new tougher rules on travel and conferences is not the solution. Adherence to existing laws and regulation is all that is required to avoid a similar waste of taxpayer money.

Unfortunately, Team Obama uses the same, misdirected energies when it comes to job creation. Obama has decided now to turn his focus on women, in particular women-owned businesses, Obama insists that new regulations are needed to ensure women owned business have a chance to create jobs and grow the economy. But, once again, no new regulations are actually needed. Obama simply has to direct his Small Business Administrator, Karen Mills, to enforce the rules currently in place. And that holds for all the promises that Obama is making to minority owned businesses, economically deprived area based businesses and veteran businesses as well.

Same goes for taxes too. The president is quick to tout the importance of the "Buffett" rule as a way to collect more tax dollars. But why not enforce the tax rules already in place? And why not start with his own staff? Currently, members of the White House staff owe almost a million dollars in back taxes to the IRS. And, career federal government employees owe over $1 billion in back taxes. Or what about Stimulus recipients who apparently owe over $750 million in back taxes? Why not start there? Why does the Obama Administration never lead by example?

If only Barack Obama would focus on the difficult business of managing the nation’s expenditures, direct his own team to lead by example and make sure his own political appointees do their "fair share", then the country might certainly be better off.

If Barack Obama would stop the puffery, posturing and taradiddles as he travels about the country, crowing about how tough he is on wasteful spending and actually enforce the rules on the books, then the nation might be better off.

Finally, if Barack Obama would get a primer in the workings of the federal government and learn about the rules already in existence and enforce them, before reflexively pushing additional regulations on a nation already fatigued from Barack Obama's regulatory tsunami, there is no doubt ours would be a better, happier, more successful nation.

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