Vol. 49, No. 4

In this edition

With Congress reaching agreement this year on plans to rebuild our roads, reform our schools, and expand foreign markets through global trade, the latest edition of THE RIPON FORUM looks at another area where common sense and compromise are needed in 2016 — overregulation.

Congress, Heal Thyself

Seldom has there been such widespread agreement in Washington among Republicans and Democrats, Senators and House members, and most of the general public: Congress doesn’t function and something needs to change, soon.

Making Our Auto Safety Laws Work Better

Following a record year of vehicle recalls due to safety defects, it is clear that automakers must do more to meet those standards, and congruently, NHTSA must do more to enforce them.

The FCC: Obama’s Broadband Bully

The current administration pushes federal agencies to twist existing laws until they are unrecognizable. This explains many of the Federal Communication Commission’s actions in the last few years, and it has just embarked on its boldest regulatory experiment yet – regulating our modern printing presses – broadband providers and other Internet-based media companies.

Q&A with Mike Oxley about the career of John Boehner

With John Boehner stepping down as Speaker of the House earlier this fall, the Forum sat down with former Ohio Congressman Mike Oxley to ask him about the career of his good friend and colleague.

Regulatory Reform That Restores Government Of, By, and For the People

Fixing the administrative state and reducing the broken regulatory system in America is about much more than economics. It is about holding government accountable, putting a stop to corruptive influences in Washington, and ending the proliferation of bad rules.

How Congress Can Fix Broken Government

American government today is run by dead people — past members of Congress who wrote all these statutes, and bureaucrats long gone who wrote the millions of words of regulations. Government is broken not mainly because past lawmakers were stupid, but because legislative programs almost never work out as planned.

Pen and Phone… Meet Liberty’s Meat Axe

If the “regulatory state” were a country, it would be the 10th largest, between Russia and India. Clearly, Congress has not only lost its grip on the power of the purse, it has relinquished its lawmaking power to federal agencies.

How Cutting Red Tape has Helped Fuel South Dakota’s Economic Success

When people around the country think about South Dakota, the first image that comes to mind is probably Mount Rushmore. But South Dakota is a great place to do business.

The Cost of Overregulation: America’s Small Business Owners Speak

THE RIPON FORUM recently contacted the National Federal of Independent Business with a simple request – namely, to find out how federal rules and regulations are affecting the 325,000 small and independent business owners they represent around the United States.

Fighting Government Red Tape: What the Next President Might Do

When it comes to reining in the regulatory state, there are are key differences about the2016 presidential candidates that could be a factor in the election next year.

Ripon Profile of Carlos Curbelo

The U.S. Representative from Florida’s 26th Congressional District discusses his first year in office and broadening the GOP’s base.

Regulations are the Fourth Branch of Government

Too often, American businesses are targeted by bureaucrats and regulators. Webs of red tape ensnare corporations and small mom-and-pop shops alike, and companies are faced with the tough choice of whether to continue running their businesses. The nameless, faceless government agencies that dole out staggering amounts of rules have morphed into a fourth branch of […]

In this edition

With 19 percent of the American people saying they do not trust the federal government, it goes without saying that most Americans view Washington as a dysfunctional place. And yet when you look back at some of the things that have been accomplished over the past 12 months, you can argue that 2015 has actually been a fairly productive year.

Congress approved Trade Promotion Authority for the President this past summer, and, this fall, reached agreement on a debt and deficit plan that, among other things, included the first significant reform to Social Security in more than 30 years. More recently, the parties have come together to approve a long-term highway bill to rebuild America’s crumbling roads and rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act to give states more control over what our children learn in school. While none of these plans and agreements are perfect, they collectively represent the kind of common sense compromise that has been in short supply in our Nation’s capital in recent years.

In this latest edition of THE RIPON FORUM, we look at another area where common sense is too often lacking and compromise is sorely needed – overregulation. In his first Inaugural Address, Ronald Reagan famously stated that, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” But even Reagan knew that government has a role in our society. He understood that in addition to promising to make government smaller, Republicans also had an obligation to make sure government operated efficiently and effectively. “Now, so there will be no misunderstanding,” Reagan declared in this same address, “it is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work.”

If there were ever an area where government needed to work, it is in the area of regulations. From clean air to highway safety, government has a responsibility, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, to do for the people “whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot, so well do, for themselves.” Unfortunately, that responsibility has grown over the years to include more areas than Lincoln likely would have ever imagined. In fact, as Clyde Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute points out in this edition of the FORUM, if the regulatory state in America were a country today, “it would be the 10th largest in the world.” What led to this growth? According to author and good government expert Philip K. Howard, the growth is due to a lack of proper oversight and good intentions gone astray. “American government today is run by dead people — past members of Congress who wrote all these statutes, and bureaucrats long gone who wrote the millions of words of regulations,” Howard writes. He goes on to argue that the federal government is broken not because these “past lawmakers were stupid, but because legislative programs almost never work out as planned.”

Fixing broken government is not just about economics, argues House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in this latest edition. It is also, he writes, “about holding government accountable, putting a stop to corruptive influences in Washington, and ending the proliferation of bad rules.” McCarthy goes on to note that the House of Representatives has passed legislation to tame the regulatory beast, and it remains one of the top priorities for Congressional Republicans in the coming year. As Republicans move ahead in this regard, they may want to look to the example set in South Dakota, where Governor Dennis Daugaard launched a “red tape review.” Daugaard writes that this review has “eliminated over 4,000 sections of law and regulations” and helped make South Dakota one of the top states in America to do business. Of course, the most important voice when it comes to the impact of overregulation does not belong to elected officials or academic experts. It belongs to the American people, which is why in this latest edition we have also included the voices of four small business owners around the country.

This latest edition of THE RIPON FORUM also includes an important essay by former House Appropriations Chairman Bob Livingston on the need for congressional reform, and a timely interview with former Congressman Mike Oxley on the career of his good friend and colleague, the recently-retired Speaker of the House, John Boehner. And in our latest Ripon Profile, we feature one of the rising stars of the Republican Party, Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo, who, among other topics, discusses his first year in Congress and the need to broaden the GOP’s base.

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of the FORUM, appreciate your readership this past year, and encourage you to contact us with any thoughts or comments you may have.

Lou Zickar