PostedDecember 17, 2012, 7:00pm
Ron has put his finger on the trickiest question for any body appointed to target obsolete laws. As he suggests, entirely uncontroversial updating and housecleaning is worth doing, but unlikely to make as big a difference as we need. On the other hand, tackling special-interest sacred cows such as the Davis-Bacon Act, farm subsidies, and the wildly excessive paperwork requirements of HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) could make a big difference, but seems an uphill battle.
(I take it as a given that while most of us would like to see a law-reform commission tackle broadly unpopular laws that survive only because of special interests, it would be probably be an exercise in futility for such a body to target laws that have the support of a majority, or even a large minority, of the general public.)
Uncontroversial housecleaning and tackling special-interest sacred cows are very different projects. A seat on a commission devoted mainly to the former might not be attractive to many of the prominent, high-powered people whose clout would be essential to doing the latter.
So I wonder whether we need two commissions, at least at the federal level, one for housecleaning and one for targeting obsolete (and unpopular) laws that have been sustained by narrow special-interest support.
I wince at the thought of adding not just one, but two, new governmental bodies as part of an effort to cut through bureaucratic paralysis. But could a single commission do both jobs well?