Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Obama's Regulators Are Killing the Economy

There are a few stories out there that remind you why it's extremely important to have the right person in the White House.  Sure, Obama's power to pass laws is hampered by a divided Congress, but his ability to jam job & economy killing regulations down the throats of American businesses is still unrestrained.  Anytime you elect a President you also elect the regulators that go with him, and unfortunately, in 2008, Obama voters elected a group of regulators that care nothing about the economic impact of their actions. 

First, there is the National Labor Relations Board.  You knew the group heading this crew were particularly anti-business when they sued Boeing over a plant OPENING in South Carolina, simply because South Carolina is a right to work state.  What's particularly galling here is that no union jobs were lost as a result of this move, so the NLRB is basically saying that non-union members don't have a right to a job.  They are also disincentivizing plant openings in lower cost states as businesses fear the wrath of the NLRB.  This makes products more expensive and hence negatively impacts the discretionary income of both businesses and consumers in general.  Does that sound like it's good for the economy? 

Unfortunately, the anti-business, anti-non-union worker decisions don't end there.  The NLRB has also scrapped a 45 day window in which workers can request a secret ballot after a card check unionization effort.  Card check unionization essentially allows unions to organize without a formal vote and as it is non-secret, allows unions to bully people into signing.  Hence a secret ballot would be a good way to make sure that a minority of the workers aren't speaking for the whole shop.  This decision doesn't do anything for the rights of labor, just the rights of unions.  The board has also just made it easier for unions to organize in nursing homes through micro-unions, aka bringing gerrymandering to unionization.  This will have a very negative impact on care as the nursing home industry is currently one of the least profitable of any around, with an average net margin of 0.9%!  Even the slightest change in labor costs can have a dramatic impact, causing many to lower their costs to remain profitable.  This basically means that unions will be directly profiting at the expense of the elderly.  And I've personally seen the difference between a good nursing home, where residents have a decent standard of living, and one where there is clearly no investment by the people in charge.  It was basically a concentration camp for old people.  This ruling will make more nursing homes like the latter instead of like the former.  But hey, gotta help your union buddies!

Then there is the Holder DOJ war on banks.  They are using pressure tactics to force banks to lend to minorities at below market rates (according to some settlements).  They are using statistical analysis and the fact that certain banks might not have as many branches in minority areas to sue banks to eek out the concessions that they want.  No proof of actual discriminatory intent is needed.  And I don't think it would be possible anyway for any of the larger banks.  They work off of statistics like income and credit scores to judge who is most likely to pay them back and adjust interest rates accordingly.  By forcing loans to effectively subprime borrowers at below market rates, you are essentially forcing banks to take on more risk than they would otherwise want to.  How is that going to end well for them?  It's not like their balance sheets are doing especially well these days as they are still full of non-performing mortgage loans (oh, you thought they went away?  Nope, banks were simply allowed to use their own discretion as to when they wrote them down.  Bank of America alone may be at risk in their current portfolio for another $50 billion in writedowns!). 

These regulations may seem minor, but they certainly add up.  The White House recently disclosed that 7 new regulations from the EPA and Department of Transportation may cost the economy over $100 billion to comply with.  I know we are used to large numbers like that being thrown around (especially when Obama flushed $862 billion down the toilet) but that is 0.7% of GDP we are talking about.  That's enough to bring us into recession, especially with some plants closing because of these regulations.  Obama's regulators have issued another 212 regulations each with an impact of at least $100 million.  That is another $21.2 billion in costs at a very absolute minimum.

This is another reason why I will vote for ANY Republican over Obama.  Republican regulators will hopefully be able to undo some of this damage, however if Obama wins, his regulators will be unleashed to do much more.  And at that point he won't have another election holding him, or them, back.

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