As President-elect Obama prepares to take office, there’s a lot of talk about “accountability,” particularly in the face of the large handouts to the banking and now auto industries. It looks like Detroit’s auto makers are going to pay the price for the rather arrogant behavior of the nation’s financial institutions that were quick to take Uncle Sam’s money (actually your money and my money) but haven’t been so quick to tell us what they’ve done with it. Further handouts are coming burdened with rules, regulations and (this being the government) mountains of paperwork to ensure that the government’s money is being used the way they want it to be.

After years of deregulation, which economists say is partly to blame for our current predicament, the pendulum is starting to swing in the other direction. For at least the next decade or so, economic experts expect the U.S. to embrace increased government regulation. In fact, angry citizens, many of whom feel they’re being robbed to support bad business decisions and executive excess, are demanding greater regulation and more stringent government oversight.

Once his team settles in, industry experts expect to see the government sticking an ore in wherever and whenever the President thinks the economy or a particular industry needs a shove. And because of the government’s tremendous investment in the country’s banks and businesses, the President will consider it his right, perhaps even his duty, explained economic analyst Chris Kuehl in a recent Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International newsletter. “The Fed is already more engaged in the U.S. banking system than ever before, and that involvement will likely expand,” warns Kuehl. “The Treasury Department is already a part owner of most of the major banks in the country, a leading insurance company, and perhaps, in time, the Big Three auto companies. That gives the U.S. government a major stake in the performance of its largest companies, which will mean direction and advice.”

So sharpen your pencils, add an extra box or two of paper to your office supply order this month and prepare to add a chair in the boardroom for Uncle Sam. It looks like the red tape is going to be flowing again!