Government regulation has become like 'helicopter parents,' Sen. Mike Lee says

By Dennis Romboy, Deseret News

Published: Thu, Aug. 21, 2014, 2:25 p.m. MDT

 Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks at the Utah Solutions Summit at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. Business leaders and government officials discussed regulation compliance and the relationship between regulation and economic development.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks at the Utah Solutions Summit at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. Business leaders and government officials discussed regulation compliance and the relationship between regulation and economic development.

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Government has become like a helicopter parent with its thousands of pages of business regulations that stifle innovation and job creation, Sen. Mike Lee said Thursday.

Furthermore, Lee said, Congress has abandoned its rule-making authority to a faceless federal bureaucracy to avoid taking responsibility for the laws it passes.

"Millions of Americans are out of work. Many are long-term unemployed. Yet today, 1 out of 3 jobs requires a government license — government permission just to work," Lee said.

"And once you do have a job, there are thousands of pages of, 'Don’t do this. Not like that. That’s not approved.'"

Lee and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., were the featured speakers at the first Utah Solutions Summit, a daylong conference where business owners, politicians and civic leaders gathered to talk about reforming the nation's regulatory system. The Salt Lake Chamber, Utah League of Cities and Towns, and Utah Association of Counties sponsored the event.

Government regulation is dulling the American economy's competitive edge, Lee said, adding that business startups have been declining for years.

"The only way for individuals and families with low incomes and low skills to climb the economic ladder is to work more, work harder and acquire new skills," he said. "But government regulation of commerce, labor and education all conspire to pull that economic ladder up out of the reach of the Americans grasping for those bottom rungs."

Two 10-foot-high stacks of paper that make up the 83,000-page 2013 Federal Register stood next to the lectern at the Little America Hotel, while the 800 pages of laws Congress passed last year were piled on a table.

Lee calculated that for every one page of law, federal agencies write 100 pages of rules. Congress gave the executive branch that discretion to insulate its members from political accountability, he said.

Coburn said Congress is "absolutely clueless" when it writes laws "because if they really knew what they were doing, they would write the rules as they went along."

Businesses have to pay thousands of dollars to interpret and comply with regulations that are so detailed that no one can keep or enforce them, he said. That money would better spent on education, housing and creating wealth, Coburn said.

Lee said one of the biggest problems with regulations is that they are rarely applied evenly throughout the economy. They're written in ways that specifically hurt some businesses and help others.

"This is not only unfair; it is corrupting. It incentivizes businesses to invest their money in influence instead of innovation," he said.

Lee said regulatory reform should free the economy of oppressive rules, restore political accountability and provide equal opportunities so success is earned, not earmarked.

One idea he said he favors is the REINS Act, which would require Congress to approve every major rule proposed by the executive branch that has an annual economic impact of $100 million. Another is forcing Congress to vote every year on the amount of regulatory costs each federal agency could impose on the economy.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said Washington has shown a "complete inability" to adapt and change, especially when it comes to technology.

Cox pointed to Utah's budding unmanned aerial aircraft industry. The state's four major universities are developing the technology, which he said could be used not for spying but for agriculture and real estate development.

"They're ahead of the curve, and yet legally they can't do anything with it," Cox said.

The Federal Aviation Administration has banned drones pending its release of rules governing their use.

"What we're asking for is let the market work," Cox said. "We could expand an entire industry within minutes, but the regulations say you can't do it."

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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1. FT
salt lake city, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

Mike-outside of a few right wing radicals nobody is listening to you anymore. You're rhetoric and partisan ways have cost our country and state billions of dollars.

2. Light and Liberty
St. George/Washington, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

Here they come. Instead of acknowledging the fact, the progressives will divert to some other topic. By acknowledging the ineptitude and bureaucratic nightmare many Americans are living through, one has to acknowledge the ineptitude of government. Progressives love bureaucracy and ineptitude. Government thrives on ignorance, control, and power, something the progressives can't do without!

3. There You Go Again
Saint George, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

What could possibly be better than a country ruled by Republicans?

No regulations on Banks or any part of Corporate America as well as the military-industrial complex until those entities let the Republican Party know the exact level of regulations they need to do business.

A teenagers dream come true?



The best way to get rid of helicopter parents is to do away with all those pesky regulations.

Exact Level?

Zero regulations.


4. UTAH Bill
Salt Lake City, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

It's refreshing to see Lee acknowledge the role of Congress in regulatory law. Most politicos, when complaining about regs, conveniently fail to mention Congress has the authority to vote out rules it does not like and can also force modification of rules once they are implemented. However, the Republican-led Congress, like their predecessors, rarely bothers to address regulatory issues - other than to complain about their impact.

5. The Reader
Layton, UT,
Aug. 21, 2014

There you go again - You are obviously one of Mike Lee's lackeys? Think about what you said and what the consequences would be for the Average American citizen,know what it would mean for the rightwing-nuts. NO regulations = lying, cheating and money grubbing for those who want no regulations. Simply a mess where the haves (rightwing nuts) get everything without anyone stopping them at the expense of the rest of the nation.