FROM food to finance, Americans will feel more government
regulations affecting their daily lives.
Earlier this fall, Congress passed legislation to provide
consumers with relief from exorbitant cable-television subscription
rates. President Bush's action last week to revamp the food
industry's food labeling rules means grocery shoppers will soon
have more accurate information about store products.
Private health-care providers are now asking for more government
intervention in the marketplace to help provide insurance for
currently uninsured individuals and families.
And all of this has occurred as President-elect Clinton - who
has promised to push for his own set of laws mandating changes in
areas ranging from the environment to health care - plans his
Mr. Clinton's approach could be a dramatic departure from the
Bush administration, which has imposed a moratorium on new
regulations since January 1991.
While many measures are good news for consumers and workers,
business leaders and economists warn that they are wary of the
impact of some of Uncle Sam's regulations.
"Given Clinton's campaign ties to special interests, he is under
political pressure that may prompt him to do more than he wants to
in terms of regulating the private sector," says John Cregan,
president of the conservative US Business and Industrial Council.
The president-elect's plans to mandate business provisions for
employee benefits through payroll tax increases, "are essentially
regulations because they command compliance," Mr. Cregan says.
Small- and medium-sized firms, which provide most of the new jobs,
will be hit hard. Many large firms view Clinton's plans to require
employers to pick up the cost of family leave, health care
insurance, and other benefits as an opportunity to share with
smaller firms a burden they have already assumed, he says.
But big business has a hawk's eye on government efforts to
reconfigure the economy. "A lot of business has a protectionist
view toward regulation," Cregan says. He offers utilities as an
example, explaining that when antitrust laws are enforced, it
creates openings for competitors.
In examining regulatory costs, an Office of Management and
Budget study states that besides costs to business, which will
inevitably be handed down to the consumer in the form of higher
prices, the true costs of regulations should reflect money spent on
efforts to reposition workers displaced due to the new laws. …