U.K. Talks Deregulation While Americans Await More Red Tape


I'm not clear on when the United States so thoroughly lost its way as a relatively market-friendly nation, but when the British prime minister is making noise about slashing bureaucratic red tape while Americans are worried about a post-election "regulatory tsunami," I think it's fair to say that something went horribly off the rails.

From the Independent Online:

Britain's bureaucrats must summon the spirit used to defeat Hitler's Germany in order to stimulate sustained growth in the country's stuttering economy, Prime Minister David Cameron was to say Monday.

In a speech at the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)—an influential business lobbying group—Cameron was to outline plans to cut through red tape, according to extracts released by his Downing Street office.

He was to blame pressure from lobbyists for creating "risk-averse" civil servants and explain his plans to get "Britain on the rise to compete and thrive in the global race.

"Over the past two and a half years I've worked with exceptional civil servants who are as creative and enterprising as any entrepreneur—and they are as frustrated with a lot of this bureaucratic rubbish as I am," he was to say.

By contrast, Breitbart reported after the recent election:

President Barack Obama's administration deliberately held off implementing burdensome regulations that favored environmentalists, labor unions, and dealt with Obamacare in the month leading up to the election because they would be politically unpopular.

Before Obama won reelection, the backlog of regulations suggested to many industry experts that if Obama won reelection, his administration would be "publishing thousands of pages of regulations in the coming months." 

Now that Obama won, some in the business community expect a "tsunami" of regulations that will burst through the dam because about 70 percent of regulations under review have been held for more 90 days, which is 30 days more than the customary 60-day limit. And these are regulations that have made it out of the various agencies. There are many more still on hold.

According to the National Journal, the backlog of regulations came about because "EPA staffers continued to finalize major environmental rules—but not to submit them to OMB for review. Industry lobbyists and environmental lawyers estimate that the EPA is currently sitting on about a dozen new major regulations, completed, and ready to roll out the door."

This isn't to say that the U.K. is a market-friendly paradise. Britons still leave the country to escape a relatively high tax rate. Then again, they can do that, since British taxes stop at the border. Americans, by contrast, have to ditch their citizenship to do the same thing.

But politicians in the U.K. are, at least, making noises about easing regulatory burdens on doing business and creating wealth, while American officials have been hiding just how much tougher they're about to make it to do the same thing. That suggests a major difference in emphasis by officeholders in the two countries. It'll be … interesting to see where this all ends up in a few years. You'll know for sure if the Brits end up sending economic advisors to the U.S. to teach us how to re-create a market economy.