Insufficient Funds or Overregulation?

Let’s continue with yesterday’s discussion of unintended consequences, shall we?

As many of you know, the President signed sweeping financial reform legislation into law this past July. And by sweeping, I mean a massive, unprecedented expansion of the size and scope of the federal government. It appears, however, that the Obama Administration underestimated the staffing spree that would be required to carry out many of their new provisions. The supposed need to hire more employees has led to a plea for increased funding to provide those workers with paychecks, computers, and office space. Quite a hefty sum when you consider that the Securities and Exchange Commission has said they want to add as many as 800 employees to enforce rules found in the financial reform law.

This particular unintended consequence seems like a no-brainer when you consider the mounds of regulations found in the law, so did Congress really not see it coming? According to The Hill, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Treasury Department have all requested additional funding, but those offices will not receive the funds until at least December 3. This week, Congress approved a continuing resolution to legislatively approve funding to help the federal government operate through the rest of the year. Since Congress has already adjourned until the election, we will not see further legislative action on appropriations until they return in December.

Fortunately, there were no major spending increases in the emergency spending bill and funding was mostly held to FY 2010 levels. While we would have liked to have seen decreased funding, this was a relatively flat and non-controversial bill. Here’s the kicker: when Congress comes back, they will have to pass either another short-term spending measure or wrap everything into one omnibus package. And we all know how expensive/pork-laden they can be. Last Friday, we endorsed the Republican Study Committee's continuing resolution which would enact a full-year, fiscally sound blueprint, return discretionary spending to FY 2008 levels (saving $99 billion), and prohibit emergency appropriations.

In short, this fight is not over. It’s an election year, so who really thought the Congressional majority would pass a loaded spending bill before November 2? No chance. The action will occur during the lame duck, so stay tuned.