'Hidden taxes' already biting

The Obama administration has already raised taxes on the American people by approving regulations that directly affect everyone's pocketbook.

They are called "hidden taxes" because the regulations are usually never reported in the press and never referred to as a "tax."

But if something looks like a tax, walks like a tax, smells like a tax...

Susan Dudley and Jeff Rosen writing in the Boston Globe:

Unfortunately, there are less visible microeconomic government actions that are likely to counteract these policies, hindering our economic recovery and preventing us from realizing that goal. Many of these are included in the administration's Spring 2009 regulatory agenda, with hundreds of planned regulations spread across many agencies.

Unlike spending and associated taxes, which are subject to approval by both the legislative and executive branches and are visible to the public, regulatory decisions don't face the same checks and balances and their effects are far less transparent. They represent a hidden tax, not easy to measure and track, but borne by American taxpayers, consumers, and workers nevertheless. And often, regulations benefit vocal, well-organized interest groups at the expense of the broader public.

Take, for example, the administration's recent actions to impose Davis-Bacon wage requirements on a wide range of stimulus projects, which will ensure higher-than-market wage rates for a few, and increase costs for all taxpayers. Or, the delay of the Interior Department's five-year plan for off-shore oil leases, and cancellation of 70 other oil leases on the mainland. The termination of a cross-border trucking arrangement with Mexico may please certain interest groups, but has already led to trade sanctions and will harm imports and exports that benefit American consumers.

Davis-Bacon especially will impact everyone since there are tens of billions in construction projects in the stim bill. Davis-Bacon mandates that a "prevailing wage" be paid on federal projects. The problem is where they get their wage data. It is usually taken from the closest large metro area, thus virtually assuring that the wages that are prevailing are union wages - sometimes 50% or more higher than those paid where the project is being built.

Other regulations from the Department of Transportion (CAFE standards for 2011 cars), and Interior Department regs that will force "consultation" with staffers if any excess greenhouse gas is involved will also affect our wallets.

This is nothing compared to what's coming down the pike from the EPA and the cap and trade boondoggle.

The fact is, the Obama administration has already raised taxes on everyone. And few have bothered to notice.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

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