Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bill Clinton and The Politics of Waivers

In a Newsweek article titled “It’s Still the Economy, Stupid” former President Bill Clinton offers 14 suggestions on how to improve the US's struggling economy.

The first of his fourteen suggestions is not wholly wrong, even if it is terribly flawed.

Harry Hopkins had nowhere near the rules and regulations we have now. (In 1933, Hopkins’s Civil Works Administration put 4 million to work in a month.) I don’t blame the people in the White House for problems in getting shovel-ready projects off the ground; sometimes it takes three years or more for the approval process. We should try to change this: keep the full review process when there are real environmental concerns, but when there aren’t, the federal government should be able to give a waiver to the states to speed up start times on construction projects. We gave states waivers to do welfare reform, so by the time I signed the bill, 43 of the 50 states had already implemented their own approaches. We need to look at that.

President Clinton is almost on the right track with this one. He at least recognizes that there is a regulatory impediment to economic activity that slows - if not terminally stalls projects and enterprises that could be putting to people work. His solution is to offer “waivers” to temporarily bypass the existing burdensome rules and regulations that are slowing if not outright killing “shovel-ready” projects.

Waivers are however, are not a long term fix. They are by definition, short term fixes dependent on the politics of the moment.

The “waiver” suggesting is interesting in that it also offers a window into the mindset that would suggest it in an economic emergency. It is a mindset that seeks to maintain and to exert power over others.

A “Waiver” is an instrument of power. It is granted solely on the political pull of the principles and interest groups involved. The power to grant or deny a waiver is staggering. It could mean millions, or billions, or even trillions of dollars in earnings to the ones seeking the “waiver” and those that are in their economic downstream, and/or millions, or billions or even trillions to their competitors in losses along with all of those enterprises in their economic downstream. Should politicians and bureaucrats have this kind of life over other peoples economic lives? Why would we want such things decided on political considerations and not on economic results?

Someone that is proposing “waivers” as a solution to the strangling effect of government rules and regulations seeks to maintain the authority of the government to impose the waived rules and regulations, while benefiting politically, if not also personally, by the power inherent in the authority and power to “waive” such rules and regulations.

What really needs to happen is a drastic reduction in the number and scope of federal regulations governing economic activity. Too many people in the political class want too much control over what people do to earn an honest living. That kind of power fetish needs to be curtailed.

Waivers was just one of the fourteen suggestions that President Bill Clinton offered in the Newsweek article. He even suggests cutting corporate tax rates. He also suggest a bunch of other statist solutions that just make politicians and bureaucrats more powerful.

See: It’s Still the Economy, Stupid

See also: Bill Clinton's Newsweek Cover Story Shows the Clinton-Obama Rivalry Is Not Dead

1 comment:

  1. Waivers are also subject to revocation on almost a in the evenr that the Schumer, Frank, Durbin or Obama campaigns aren't getting enough contributions from the organization that's presently benefitting from said waiver


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