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The last thing America’s consumers need are additional economic burdens in the form of more “red tape” from Washington. In case you hadn’t noticed, there is plenty of “red tape” to go around already — and our economy, along with our citizens’ daily lives, could do with a lot less of it, not more. Thankfully, Congressman Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) understands this and he should be congratulated for his aggressive efforts to halt the unbridled expansion of government regulation and its all-too-often harmful interference with small businesses, upon which the growth and prosperity of our nation is dependent.
Here’s an example relevant to everyday consumers and thousands of small-business health care professionals that deal with vision care: Like me, millions of consumers depend on prescription glasses and/or contact lenses to function – and their lives and careers would be miserable without these essential devices prescribed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. In the case of contact lenses, you can obtain a variety of types directly from the prescribing health care professional, or you are free to take your prescription to another source, such as an online marketer. Federal law provides for the “portability” of your vision script and this makes sense. However, wealthy out-of-state contact lens sellers don’t like having to compete with thousands of independent eye doctors in places like Rep. Lance’s home state of New Jersey and elsewhere, and in usual “special interest” fashion, they are funding an aggressive lobbying campaign to create new layers of “red tape” that can be thrown into the process — all at the expense of the individual consumer and your local eye doctor.
To further their interests and to help stifle local competition, these well-heeled marketers have ginned up the powerful Federal Trade Commission to propose a new rule mandating that consumers sign off on documents attesting that their local eye doctor released their prescription to them, and then have the doctor maintain these documents for at least three years. The free-marketers at the Competitive Enterprise Institute have called the proposal “a solution in search of a problem” and “exactly the type of regulation government agencies should avoid.” Fortunately, Rep. Lance and nearly 60 other members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, recognize phony “consumerism” in the form of useless red tape when they see it – and are fighting back against the proposed FTC rule that is estimated to cost consumers an additional $100 million. This is how nonsense mischief starts – a little rule here (only $100 million!) and another one there, and pretty soon you wind up with an uncontrollable quagmire of paperwork and red tape costing consumers billions upon billions of dollars. And that’s exactly what we have in this country today.
I should note that my own experience base frames my views when it comes to this particular issue and how federal regulations are both made and enforced generally. I’ve spent a lifetime working around and in government and I’ve seen plenty of regulations – both necessary and unnecessary ones. What I know is this: Generally speaking, “less regulation is better,” particularly if you value the dynamics and important benefits of a free market-oriented economy and those small businesses that comprise the core of it. So, kudos to Rep. Lance for fighting more wasteful and unnecessary red tape.
Richard Miller served as chief of staff to Sen. John P. East (R-N.C.) from 1980-1982, served as an official of the U.S. Customs Service from 1982-1986, and was the interim executive vice president for the American Chiropractic Association from 2015-2016.
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