As far as I know, President Barack Obama never said that if you like your life insurance options, you can keep them. He may therefore get off the hook as a deceiver if the Dodd-Frank regulatory law does what is now plotted.
Still, he will still share responsibility for the insurance provision that, along with others in Dodd-Frank, could bloody lots of noses.
A conglomeration of marketplace interventions lovingly promoted by the president, Dodd-Frank is slowly but surely headed our way. Different agencies had been too busy bumping into each other and wrestling with complicated passages to get all the rules written, but Obama nonetheless has called the regulators in to tell them, by golly, to start regulating.
And so, befuddled or not, the regulators are coming.
The idea behind the law — officially known as the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — is to make sure we never have another financial crisis of the kind we had in 2008. It was supposed to address the issue of too big to fail, but it does so only questionably and is filled with a jumble of bureaucratically empowering irrelevancies and potentially damaging guesstimates.
One of the law’s inexcusable forays has been to include some life insurance companies among institutions regarded as posing threats to the financial system if something goes terribly awry.
A not infinitesimal issue is that those companies do no such thing.
If companies failed in insurance pursuits, many people would suffer but the nation’s financial system would not be affected in a major way. Plus, most states have done a reputable job overseeing the insurance sector.
Intervene foolishly, and, as Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has written with reference to a study, insurance purchasers could someday have fewer choices in policies that could also cost more and return less.
We need Congress to further reshape Dodd-Frank and, beyond that, to reduce the rest of our egregious regulatory excess. Right now the mishmash exceeds an astounding 134,000 pages of federal rules that are more than a little punishing
But wait. Weren’t many of those regulations really, truly needed? Yes, of course. But many weren’t, and some are constitutional affronts. As a Wall Street Journal series showed, a sizable number of regulations have even led to criminal charges against people who could not possibly have known they were violating any stricture.
Look, too, at how nothing is too tiny to generate colossal governmental consternation. Right now, the Federal Trade Commission is going after a 137-year-old nonprofit music association for suggesting to its members — mostly piano teachers — that they shouldn’t try to recruit students from each other. The group has had to a turn over thousands of documents, sign a silliness-ridden consent decree and submit to a burdensome, costly 20-year antitrust compliance program.
And for what? The organization’s merely proffering an admonishment of its members.
Such craziness won’t affect most of us the way new life insurance rules might and Obamacare is increasingly doing, but it’s an example that helps describe the cur-rent examples of government bullying.