Friday, September 16, 2011

Catch of the Day

I'm somewhat ambivalent about fact-checking as a journalism genre...I'm sometimes concerned that there's a inherent bias in favor of discussing those things that are most easily shown to literally untrue, regardless of how substantively important they might be.

However, the WaPo's Glenn Kessler has a real doozy today: Speaker Boehner's claim that there are 219 pending regulations which will each cost the economy at least $100M. It turns out this is wrong in one relatively minor way -- the number of qualifying regulations is nowhere close to accurate -- but that's not the big deal. The real problem here is that while the government is required to identify all regulations that could have a $100M effect, it turns out that effect could be in either direction. In other words, they include those regulations that the government estimates will help the economy by at least $100M, in addition to those that are projected to hurt it. Indeed, if I understand this correctly, the procedure is to identify all effects of over $100M (in either direction), not all regulations that have a large net effect -- so as Kessler says, many of these may have net effects that are small or positive.

My general feeling is that if a politician says he has a list of 219 of something it's not going to surprise anyone if it turns out that there's only 150 (or that there are 500). But it's sort of a big deal if it turns out that a significant chunk of the 219 are examples of exactly the opposite of the point that the pol was trying to make. And this isn't just an incidental point; it's the big evidence Boehner has in support of the biggest initiative that his House Republicans are busy with this fall.

Now that Kessler has done such a good job of debunking it, you can be sure that Republicans will drop this in favor of more accurate figures and examples. Right?

Great catch.


  1. From the actual Congressional Research Service report:

    According to a database maintained by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in 9 of the 14 full calendar years since the CRA was enacted, federal agencies published between 50 and 70 major rules. The agencies published 76 major rules in 1998, and 77 major rules in 2000. The number of major rules issued in a single calendar year first exceeded 80 in 2008 (the last full year of the George W. Bush Administration), when 95 major rules were published. In calendar year 2009, the first year of the Barack Obama Administration, federal agencies published 84 major final rules. However, 11 of those 84 rules were actually issued in early January 2009, during the final days of the Bush Administration. During calendar year 2010, federal agencies published 100 major final rules.



    So if in 9 of 14 years studied, the average publish rate was 60, and Obama's first year rate was 100, then that means a 67% increase in regulation over the mode.

    And an increased rate of publishing isn't DECREASING the costs of regulation, no matter this WaPo guy's spin. That 66% increase is hitting the economy and job creation, and during a time of +9% unemployment.

    This is a legitimate political attack, and it's Obama's neck on the line. He now seems to know it, too, in firing that Carol Browner global warming czar, and in reining in Lisa Jackson at EPA (maybe), but that's not enough.

    It isn't evil John Boehner that's gonna take out Obama come November 2012, remember. The Left can be as passionate about amping up regulation all they want, and NLRBing their way to union brotherhood, but there will be a price to pay for it, make no mistake. This regulatory barrage is just another part of Obama's ongoing political suicide.

  2. "I have here in my pocket a list of 219 regulations...."

  3. I agree. There's no possible way any regulation could make things better in the world. None. So, all regulations are to be treated as fundamentally evil.
    Catch of the Day goes to Anonymous @1:24!

  4. 219 * 100M = $21.9 B

    So, the Republican plan is to liberate 0.15% of the economy from the Kenyan Alinskyite shackles?


  5. No, I think the "Republican plan" is basically to watch the left commit political suicide by mouthing sarcasm, hyperbole and platitudes like:

    "There's no possible way any regulation could make things better in the world. None. So, all regulations are to be treated as fundamentally evil."

    "So, the Republican plan is to liberate 0.15% of the economy from the Kenyan Alinskyite shackles?"

  6. Remember, Obama is committing an ongoing political suicide, every bit as much as if he stuffed a pistol in his mouth, or bit into a cyanide capsule. That suicide has nothing to do with your evil Faux News enemies.


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