01/19/2011Via The Heritage Foundation
In fiscal year 2010, the first full fiscal year under the Obama Administration, the federal government issued 43 major new regulations. According to the Administration’s own estimates, the total cost of these rules was $28 billion. Only two of the new rules reduced measured regulatory costs, and then by only $1.5 billion. On net, the Obama Administration inflicted $26.5 billion in new regulatory costs on the economy last year, an all-time record. This was on top of the $1.75 trillion in existing regulatory costs already inflicted on the U.S. economy by the federal government. No wonder the business community, large and small, felt it was under attack.
But now that the President has been “shellacked” at the polls, and unemployment is over 9 percent for a post–World War II record 20th month in a row, the Obama Administration is desperate to convince the public that their war on business is over. Hence President Barack Obama’s Wall Street Journal op-ed yesterday announcing “a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.” This is a nice sentiment. But even a cursory examination of the President’s actual order shows he is all talk and no action.
First of all, the President’s executive order doesn’t actually require federal agencies to identify harmful regulations during the next 120 days. It merely requires that they submit a “preliminary plan” for reviewing regulations sometime in the future. This is not an order to reduce a single regulation. It is an order to plan to plan to maybe someday reduce regulations! Second, the order exempts “independent” agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Finally, even if an existing rule is found that stifles job creation, it will take years to actually repeal it. Kauffman Foundation Vice President Robert Litan tells The New York Times: “It’s more of a talking point than a policy. Even if you find a rule you don’t like, and they probably will, then they’re going to have to go through rule-making and then it’s going to take a year or two or longer.”
There is a very simple way to tell if President Obama is serious about stopping job-killing government regulations: He can stop the torrent of new regulations his Administration is set to start producing this year.
The 2,319-page financial regulation bill requires 243 new formal rule-makings by 11 different federal agencies. The 2,700-page Obamacare bill contains more than 1,000 instances where Congress instructed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to regulate the health care industry. And, in the ultimate example of power-hungry federal regulators providing “solutions” where no problem currently exists, for the first time in the history of the Internet, the federal government will begin to regulate service providers with “net neutrality” regulations.
The American people are not powerless against President Obama’s expansionist administrative state. The new conservative Congress has a number of weapons at their disposal to slow government’s regulatory rise. Congress can withhold funding from the Environmental Protection Agency for writing global warming regulations. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to review and overrule regulations issued by government agencies. And today, the House of Representatives will take a big first step in rolling back HHS’s czar-like power over one-sixth of our economy when they vote to repeal Obamacare.
President Obama may be signaling that he plans to slow the federal government’s regulatory explosion, but America’s job creators should not believe him for a second.