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  • Top 10 Worst Federal Rules of 2011

    Hindsight is supposed to be 20/20, but looking back on the past 12 months, it’s tough to see any sense in many of the Administration’s regulatory missteps. Of course, there are bound to be a few howlers when government churns out more than 3,500 rules in a year, including dozens unleashed by Obamacare, Dodd–Frank, and the perpetually errant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But by any standard, 2011 brought forth a remarkable number and variety of regulatory blunders.

    Fair warning: Our Top 10 list may prove fatal to any bit of faith in government as a “fixer,” if faith somehow has managed to survive despite all evidence to the contrary. In any event, it should steel our resolve to fight the Leviathan in the coming year.

    1. The Dim Bulbs Rule. As per Congress, of course, for issuing an edict to phase out the incandescent light bulbs on which the world has relied for more than a century. With the deadline looming in 2012, Americans by the millions spent the past year pressing lawmakers to lift the ban which, contrary to eco-ideology, will kill more American jobs than create “green” ones. (Congress evidently overlooked the fact that the vast majority of fluorescent bulbs are manufactured in China.) The 2012 appropriations bill barred the use of funds to enforce the regulation, but it remains in law.

    2. The Obamacare Chutzpah Rule. The past year was marked by a slew of competing court rulings on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the cornerstone of Obamacare. The law requires U.S. citizens to obtain health insurance or face financial penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Service. Never before has the federal government attempted to force all Americans to purchase a product or service. To allow this regulatory overreach to stand would undermine fundamental constitutional constraints on government powers and curtail individual liberties to an unprecedented degree.

    3. The Nationalization of Internet Networks Rule. Regulations that took effect on November 1 prohibit owners of broadband networks from differentiating among various content in managing Internet transmissions. (In other words, the Federal Coercion Communications Commission effectively declared the broadband networks to be government-regulated utilities.) The FCC imposed the “network neutrality” rule despite explicit opposition from Congress and a federal court ruling against it. The rule threatens to undermine network investment and increase online congestion.

    4. The Equine Equality Rule. As of March 15 (the Ides of March, no less), hotels, restaurants, airlines, and the like became obliged to modify “policies, practices, or procedures” to accommodate miniature horses as service animals. According to the Department of Justice, which administers the rule, miniature horses are a “viable alternative” to dogs for individuals with allergies or for observant Muslims and others whose religious beliefs preclude canine accompaniment.

    5. The Smash Potatoes Regulation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed stricter nutrition standards that would prohibit school lunch ladies from serving more than one cup per week of potatoes per student. Instead, schools would be required to provide more dark green, orange, and dry bean varieties (think kale) in order to foster vegetable diversity. The cafeteria mandate will affect more than 98,000 elementary and secondary schools at a cost exceeding $3.4 billion in the next four years.

    6. The Bring on the Blackouts Rule. The EPA is proposing to force power plants to reduce mercury by 90 percent within three years—at an estimated cost of $11 billion annually. A significant number of coal-fired plants will actually exceed the standard—by shutting down altogether. Indeed, grid operators, along with 27 states, are warning that the overly stringent regulations will threaten the reliability of the electricity system and dramatically increase power costs. Just like candidate Obama promised.

    7. The Wal-Mart Windfall Amendment. One of hundreds of new regulations dictated by the Dodd–Frank financial regulation statute requires the Federal Reserve to regulate the fees that financial institutions may charge retailers for processing debit card purchases. The prospect of losing more than $6 billion in annual revenue is prompting financial institutions to hike fees on a variety of banking services to make up for the much smaller payments from stores. Thus, consumers are picking up the tab for retailers’ big regulatory score.

    8. The Plumbing Police Rule. The U.S. Department of Energy began preparations for tightening the water efficiency standards on urinals. It’s all spelled out in excruciating detail in the Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products Other Than Automobiles, which also regulates the efficiency of toilets, faucets, and showers. And refrigerators and freezers, air conditioners, water heaters, furnaces, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, ovens and ranges, pool heaters, television sets, and anything else the Energy Secretary deems as electrically profligate. (Urinals also are regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which requires at least one urinal for every 40 workers at a construction site for companies with less than 200 employees and one for every 50 workers where more than 200 are employed. The Americans with Disabilities Act also delineates the proper dimensions and placement of bowls.)

    9. The Chill the Economy Regulation. The EPA issued four interrelated rules governing emissions from some 200,000 boilers nationwide at an estimated capital cost of $9.5 billion. These boilers burn natural gas, fuel oil, coal, biomass (e.g., wood), refinery gas, or other gas to produce steam, which is used to generate electricity or provide heat for factories and other industrial and institutional facilities. Under the so-called Boiler MACT, factories, restaurants, schools, churches, and even farms would be required to conduct emissions testing and comply with standards of control that vary by boiler size, feedstock, and available technologies. The stringency and cost of the new regulations provoked an outpouring of protest, including 21 governors and more than 100 Members of Congress. On May 18, the EPA published a notice of postponement in the Federal Register, but the regulations remain on the books.

    10.  The Unions Rule Rule. New rules require government contractors to give first preference in hiring to the workers of the company that lost the contract. Tens of thousands of companies will be affected, with compliance costs running into the tens of millions of dollars—costs ultimately borne by taxpayers. The rule effectively ensures that a non-unionized contractor cannot replace a unionized one. That’s because any new contractor will be obliged to hire its predecessors’ unionized workers and thus be forced by the “Successorship Doctrine” to bargain with the union(s).

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    50 Responses to Top 10 Worst Federal Rules of 2011

    1. Randy Rawson says:

      "Under the so-called Boiler MACT, factories, restaurants, schools, churches, and even farms would be required to conduct emissions testing and comply with standards of control that vary by boiler size, feedstock, and available technologies." Just not true. Just not true. I guess is you can't beat them with the facts and truth, you can stir them up with flawed analysis and lies. Just amazingly NOT TRUE.

      • Cave Bear says:

        Hate to break it to you, Slick, but what was said about the Boiler MACT rule is true. Bing is your friend…

      • Alex says:

        Prove it's not true Randy. Print the regulation, and tell us what's wrong with this interpretation.

      • Chuck says:

        You need to prove your point. If you feel the whole article is either flawed or a lie, bemore specific re: why you believe this. What concerns most people is the MASS OF REGULATIONS that the government is issuing. Some are not done by Congress but are issued by agencies staffed with appointed people. No matter WHO generats the rules, there are TOO MANY of them, and it seems more are made every day. Our free enterprise system is being sabotaged by a government that's supposed to SERVE the people, not DOMINATE them. The result of this will be the end of our culture, economy, and country as government extends deeper into the lives of citizens. This is socialism. If you like it, you're free to go live in a socialist country. But ask yourself why people are literally dying to get OUT of such countries and INTO ours. There's no big line at our borders waiting to get OUT. Those who favor strong government and weak people should make the journey and take all these regulations with them.

    2. Norman Coppola says:

      #6. Restriction of coal plant mercury emissions makes sense. #9 Curtailing toxic emissions by small power producers makes sense.–It's everybody's air and water they are polluting.

      • Georg says:

        Mandating that coal power plants reduce their already extremely low mercury content to levels that wouid take billions of dollars to comply with may make sense if the EPA had given the power companies enough time to comply, not simply sticking the power companies with a "unplug it or face massive fines in a few months" decision. Haven't these numbskulls heard of something called "Planning"?

        Doing this at the *same time* we are being mandated to bring tons of mercury directly into our house enclosed in delicate glass containers subjected to high voltage is just completely nuts.

      • Ned S says:

        1) #6 only makes sense if the levels of mercury are too high. Everthing I've read says that the proposed acceptable levels are so low as to be punitive rather than reasonable.
        2) At the same time that the EPA is mandating severe reductions in Mercury emissions the Gov't is requiring consumers to bring mercury laden CFL bulbs into our homes.
        Which or both of these two things doesn't make sense?

    3. vincent says:

      This is great! I agree completely with health care-its uncivilized not to have healthcare and see citizens die without this human right-frankly it should be FREE! As for potatoes-the over-consumption has raised health issues and that is a burden to America. We need to lose fat. Times are bad-we have to eat less and be healthy! I think American students need school uniforms, disipline and loss in weight.

      Gone are the "high days" beware the Ides or March-because of lack of regulations, Doctors, the Pharmacetucial companies and Insurance companies have started a RACKET to deceive the American Public. If welfare is given to Corporations, the Amerixan Citiezn should get it First.

      The lack of regulation has led us to this catastrophy. We need to regualte the banks TIGHTLY-and put Bankers in jail foir Fraud. I welcome 2012 qndw e need more regulation!!

      • Al Cinamon says:

        And what do you do for a living? Would you consider doing it for no pay? Why should doctors provide health care for no pay? Of course, when you say health care should be free, what you really mean is that someone else should pay for it. You are, do doubt, a liberal leech.

      • ryan says:

        Sounds like you might want to consider moving to North Korea. Why stop at healthcare? Shouldn't food, water, and shelter be free for everyone, too?

      • Melvin says:

        Besides, health care is not a right. Unless of course we can say "affordable housing", going to college, and having a job that pays you what you think you should be paid are rights as well.

        If we're going to go down that road, I think getting my pilot's license should be a right. Living in California with an ocean view should be a right. Heck, owning a really nice car so I can go to a well paying job should be a right as well.

        RIghts are things the government is not allowed to violate, not things the government should be empowered to GIVE you.

        If you are the standard for citizenship, we are sooooooooo screwed.

      • ObamaCare IsNotFree says:

        There is nothing about Obamacare that is free. It is "universal" healthcare, not free healthcare. It will be universal because everyone will be forced by the government to participate. Citizens will be forced to PURCHASE a government approved healthcare insurance policy or face financial penalties or even jail time! In the state I live in we are required to have insurance on our vehicles. We have to pay for this insurance. You could say we have universal automobile insurance but is sure isn't free.

      • Bobbie says:

        my goodness vincent, the government took a role in oversight to correct problems between insurances and their recipients. every complaint regarding the businesses in check were all neglects and unchecked by government incompetence. How long have you been watching citizens without health care, die? Why were you watching and not helping? Trusting in government is trusting in an added corruption if you think the businesses are. Insurance was a privilege that people who took responsibilities for their lives, paid for.Income was irrelevant. It was a responsibility everyone was suppose to catch on to until government influence stepped in. Insurance has no worth today. We're paying for the insurance (false sense of security) and costs. They're astronomical!

        Nobody knows the worth of medical services and medicines but pays the bill and when you can get quality medical services in other countries an eighth the cost it is here, something is corrupting the system with government behind it. Redistribution of health care and insurance costs from the responsible to the irresponsible. How are they going to make anything better? Force doctors to work for free? That's a doctor who'll have a good attitude.

        To give free health care to all but only if you have insurance is not really something to trust. Insurance isn't health care.

        No one lives your life or controls your behavior but you. Why don't you find it fair that your health is in your care with all you allow it to entail and appropriately at your costs? I didn't give birth to you, I don't control your actions, why do you want to give me and my family the responsibilities you deny that maintain the responsibilities of your personal life?

    4. johnboy says:

      we are doooooomed

    5. Randi Briggs says:

      Every day I get more impressed at the idiocy of our government. Just when I think it can't get any nuttier…

    6. Babs says:


    7. Chris Vrahnos says:

      Well here goes.This is the year that real changes can happen.One must be very care full about who you want in congress and as Pres.For the most part what is out there for us to choose from will only give us more of the same in D.C.Some want to have those who are elderly and or disabiled to bear the the most of the cuts in spending.There ones who don't to cut taxes and raise the spending by more taxes and more regulation.Then there are ones that to some have wacky ideas that truly want to cut spending and lower taxes and also cut regulations.So do you want more of the same then vote for the one that the media wants.This includs this publication.

    8. Stephen Maus says:

      Hey vincent, next time you are sick, call the DOJ and by the way nearly half of the citizens of this country are on welfare. Nothing is free, you just want someone else to pay like all liberals.

    9. JimK says:

      The ban on Primateen mist inhalers because they cause damage to the environment should be on the list

    10. Lyne says:

      People don't have a constitutional RIGHT to healthcare. Sorry it's just not in the constitution. As for all the other regulations, eliminating all the regulatory agencies that are NOT constitutional would take care of all this mess…

      • Pragmatic says:

        You realize that the modern world is a lot different than it was when the constitution was written right? Not that I'm disagreeing with your stance on healthcare, but to say all agencies not in the constitution should be eliminated because they aren't in the constitution is a bit simple-minded.

        • J. Howell says:

          The bible is old & out dated. The constitution is old & out dated. Guns are old & out dated. Old people are old & out dated. So why are you so scared of anything old, Are you one of THOSE oldaphobes ??

        • Bobbie says:

          that's right. it is that simple to have people elect respect to follow the people's constitution. that's why they're elected. Over the course of time, people who are left to assume government officials are doing the job they're paid to, were fully unaware that people elect and more have been destroying the meaning of this morally, powerful document behind America's back! When properly interpreted reasonable minds find the document to withstand all times and in all regard to protect ALL peoples freedoms, liberties and independence! All agencies that are unconstitutional should be eliminated because you're giving government too much control at your cost, over your own.

    11. olemike says:

      The only place the "Dim Bulb" rule should be enforced is in Washington.

    12. Dixon says:

      Whoa! No. 1 is wrong! The so-called "lightbulb ban" was passed and signed by President Bush (with GOP support and "W's signigure. It also doesn't "ban" incandescants as much as it sets energy efficiency standards for light bulbs. Can't meet them, then they likely won't be made. We've set federal standards for a lot of things, with safety features in automobiles coming to mind. I have three daughters: Don't know about you, but I am GLAD we have seat-belts and airbags in cars! It's all about that nasty part of the Constitution that many so-called conservatives can't rap their brains around: The part in the preamble where it says, among other things, that government "… shall promote the general welfare" of all Americans. As in making sure, as we did in days gone by, that we had uniform highway signs, an Interstate Highway System, clean air and water, regulations for what can and can'ty be in our drinking water? I'm OK with these "civilized" features of a modern, industrialized and healthy country. We're like a "united" states, get it? And, if "Randy" is right about the "Facts" in comment No. 1, maybe the authors can make a few corrections? Or is Heritage not about telling the truth?

      • Melvin says:

        It's still a bad law. I don't care if Reagan signed it.

      • ronbo says:

        It does say "promote" the general welfare, not mandate. I'm also glad there are air bags and seat belts in cars since the lighter, flimsier cars "mandated" by fuel efficiency standards made the vehicles inherently less safe.

      • Los says:

        There are limitations on government too were we all more willing to realize that.
        It matters not which president signed what – THIS PARTICULAR Administration has way over stepped and over reached its Constitutional Limitations PERIOD! The article underscores – beginning with the usurper pseudo president not being eligible to serve – and he wants re-election? Absurd! This article emphasizes how governement has grown far too large and like a boil must be lanced to get the crud OUT!

      • don says:

        I agree, amen! Things like "energy efficiency" is important for the entire village. Some say it is their right to use up as much energy as they want, I disagree. I some wise old sage once said, "their right to swing their fist at me stops just before it hits me in the nose."

        • Bobbie says:

          who are the "some say it is their right to "use up" as much energy as they want" that aren't marijuana growers? how about this: "you pay for what you use?" You don't know the circumstances of the health of others and they shouldn't have to expose it through government to be sure they aren't denied their need at their personal expense. If everyone in the village had their own personal costs to deal with, efficiency would expand their knowledge to deal with also.

      • Spence says:

        If a car doesn't have seat-belts and airbags, then don't buy it – buy one that does.

      • Jim says:

        PROMOTE……not become …. The general welfare.

    13. Kevin Beck says:

      The stupidest rule of all, which (unfortunately) is part of the United States Constitution: "Congress may regulate…interstate commerce…."

      If we could amend this rule back to what "regulate" meant (to allow regular flow of commerce), then we would be fine. Instead, since the time of Roosevelt II, it has been interpreted to mean total interference in commerce.

      Re-interpreting the Commerce Clause will also end every administrative agency in Washington, DC.

    14. Leon Lundquist says:

      Oh! Boy! Dixon, are you ever OTL! Imagine that we are creatures with Natural Rights of Liberty! We don't need the likes of the Democrat DINOs micro managing our lives. I think citizens are qualified to decide for themselves what light bulb to choose! I call them DINOs because no freedom loving Democrat would support the First American Communist President! It is too late for American Light Bulb manufacturers. They are already shut down! (Along with so much American Industry) It is impossible to Buy American! The Democrats have done that! For a hundred years!

    15. Mike88 says:

      A good way to eliminate many of these stupid rules is to eliminate many of the bureaucrats that created them, and one way to do this is to elect Ron Paul who would eliminate many of the Departments that have created and control these agencies. Thus by eliminating these Departments, the agencies and bureaucrocies within them would also disappear. Common sense would slowly return to Washington D.C.

    16. rightwingontheweb says:

      And you wonder why the markets have been crap all year long.

    17. Will says:


    18. saltnlight says:

      The EPA is proposing to force power plants to reduce mercury by 90 percent within three years. And, yet, force us to use compact fluorescent bulbs, which contain mercury, instead of the safer incandescent light bulbs on which the world has relied for more than a century. So, tell me, is mercury really a problem? Or, could it be the "powers" are simply rewarding their political cronies?

      • skip says:

        it seems to me that at least a bunch of these bulbs are made by obama's jobs czar, the ceo of g.e, and this is the guy who at the same time is outsourcing to china and allegedly providing them with aviation secrets…

    19. don says:

      One that is still on the books, but is going to be "ignored" for now deals with dust. It was going to make it impossible for most grain farmers to do tillage in their fields because of the toxic dust it creates. Funny how we've been living with it in the Midwest for well over a century without a massive epidemic.

    20. jonathan says:

      oh well about the unions, pay people better wages.

    21. Whicket Williams says:

      The repeal of the bill of rights is the biggest news in MY life, but ignored. people are either scared to say anything, or hoping if they pretend it doesn't exist, it will not effect them, or go away. Remember what happened in Germany? people used to say never again. Now, they just try to pretend it isn't happening to them.

    22. Vince sr. says:

      Folks, you voted for the do nothing's in washington

    23. jerry says:

      We have been robbing Peter to pay Paul for so many years that now we have way too many Pauls and not near enough Peters. And when Paul finds out he won't get his money he will riot in the streets and set the city on fire just like Greece

    24. Mark B says:

      I think wallmart should do what I did in my store. Go cash only, and put in a row of atm's and let the public pay the bank fee's so something may actually get done with the banks. Those of you not owning a business do not realize that I have to give up on average 3.5% of my profit just to get paid. Do the math on a small business doing a million a year in sales and then see how many employees I can hire or additional infrastructure I could pay for if I don't have to pay the gods of money.

    25. don says:

      Sounds like dear Bobby has a basic problem with authority figures.

    26. Bobbie says:


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