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Era of unlimited government

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Era of unlimited government
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"Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business," President Calvin Coolidge told journalists in March 1929.


If Coolidge suddenly sprang to life today, he would look around and drop dead.

Washington Democrats are minding their own business...and everyone else's. In this Era of Unlimited Government, the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats stick their snouts anywhere they will fit, without the guidance of common sense, frugality, nor any sense of priorities. For today's federal government, it's everything, all the time:

- Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has moved to cap ATM fees at 50 cents per transaction. Between 1999 and 2009, the number of money machines has exploded from about 227,000 to 425,000 nationwide, reports Independent operators spend $9,000 to $50,000 to purchase each ATM and $12,000 to $15,000 annually to operate it. If Congress slaps price controls on ATM transactions, these businesses will shrivel -- perhaps fatally. And then who will install and maintain ATMs?

- Although the D.C. Circuit Court ruled April 6 that the Federal Communications Commission has no jurisdiction over the Internet, FCCniks nevertheless want to regulate cyberspace via the Communications Act of 1934, which was adopted to oversee telephones. The Internet does not pollute, nor force people to purchase plane tickets online, nor locate lovers with a mouse click. So, why can't the FCC back off and go enjoy some Internet pornography, just as did 28 on-duty Securities and Exchange Commission staffers? Instead, Democrats want to eclipse one of this economy's few glimmers of sunlight. This is net brutality.

- Precisely 3,006 pages of new federal rules require automakers to boost car mileage 37 percent by 2016, at an estimated $51.5 billion reengineering cost. That year, this June's "Car and Driver" calculates, these standards will boost an average vehicle's price by $926.

As if nosing around cash machines, computers and cars were insufficient, Washington wants to control everyone's salt intake. The Food and Drug Administration is considering limiting how much salt restaurants and manufacturers can add to food products. The Institute of Medicine urged the FDA "to do so in a gradual way that will assure that food remains flavorful to the consumer."

How thoughtful. Of course, Americans who find bureaucratically correct entrees bland will reach for their saltshakers and counteract this entire enterprise. So, why not skip just it?

Of course, unlimited government means new taxes:

- Congress is considering a $220 billion "tax extenders" bill through which Democrats would increase from 15 percent to 35 percent the tax on private-equity and hedge-fund profits, confiscating $26 billion. This is in addition to a new 3.8 percent ObamaCare tax on interest and dividend proceeds on incomes exceeding $250,000. Democrats also plan a $10 billion crude-oil tax. Expect fewer deals and pricier gasoline.

As if from a ruptured pipeline, Washington continues to gush taxpayer dollars.

- The Education Department requested $26 billion in emergency funds on May 13, supposedly to prevent 300,000 teacher layoffs. This is atop last year's $100 billion in stimulus spending for school districts -- including $48 billion to prevent teacher layoffs.

- Meanwhile, ObamaCare -- essentially Disney World for federal busybodies -- will require $115 billion more than advertised in March. According to the Congressional Budget Office, if lawmakers appropriate all of this legislation's promised spending, its price will leap from $938 billion to $1.053 trillion, an anticipated 12.5 percent cost overrun just six weeks after enactment.

About the only budget cut Obama has managed is a $53.2-million, 25-percent slash in New York City's counter-terrorism funding, unveiled 11 days after the failed Times Square bombing attempt.

This potentially lethal slice of fiscal restraint aside, Democratic Washington is like a fire-ant colony, while the American taxpayer is tied, bare legged, to a nearby tree. The ants keep coming by the thousands -- hungry, angry and in constant motion.

-- Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at