As I was saying …

The regulatory crush

"A cynic," H.L. Mencken once said, "is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin."

As I write this column during NRCA's biennial legislative conference, which we hold in the nation's most dysfunctional city, Washington, D.C., the House of Representatives can't figure out who the next speaker will be; Congress hasn't figured out how to pass a budget; and the entire federal government faces the prospect of a shutdown because some members of Congress will use raising the debt ceiling as a vehicle for making a point.

Let's just say there are a lot of people looking for coffins in our nation's capital.

And yet despite the dysfunction, there is one (enormous) part of government that is able to get things done seemingly at will—regulatory agencies. High-level regulators understand they are most likely in their final year of office and are anxious to leave their marks on the agencies they serve. That's noble for them, I suppose, but terrible for the rest of us.