We did a post last week about President Obama’s new executive order concerning federal regulations. He has declared that all federal agencies review their regulations with an eye toward eliminating those that impose “unreasonable burdens on business–burdens that have a chilling effect on growth and jobs”.
He will, no doubt, tout this during his State of the Union address in an attempt to make us all think he is business friendly, and “moving toward the center”. When he does, you need to be aware of certain facts that render his statements, and the executive order, meaningless.
First, before his “epiphany”, Republicans had already drafted legislation seeking to accomplish the same thing, so, his executive order is merely window dressing to make us think he has moderated his philosophy. (More on the Republican legislation in a later post.)
Second, in the two years of his presidency, his administration has already passed “major regulations” (those with an effect on the economy of more than $100 million) totalling $40 billion. It took the Bush administration seven years to accomplish this “feat”, with one fourth of that amount coming in 2007 when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And, of course, we still have 2011 to look forward to with the costs of all of the regulations associated with Obamacare, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act, the EPA’s continuing march toward Cap and Tax, the FCC’s decision to impose “net neutrality” (in spite of court orders holding they do not have Congressional authority to do so), the NLRB’s apparent desire to impose “card check” (in spite of Congress’s decision not to do so), the Department of Interior’s still to come regulations regarding off-shore drilling…to name just a few.
Third, buried in the fine print of Obama’s executive order, the agencies are directed, when weighing the costs and benefits of any regulation, to consider “values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts”.
With the inclusion of this language, you will be happy to learn that the EPA has already announced that,
it was ‘confident’ it wouldn’t need to alter a single current or pending rule. ‘In fact, the EPA’s rules consistently yield billions in cost savings that make them among the most cost-effective in the government.’
And, just in case you forgot, the EPA justified its carbon ‘endangerment” finding last year by saying that,
climate change will ‘add further stress to an existing host of social problems that cities experience, including neighborhood degradation, traffic congestion, crime, unemployment, poverty, and inequities in health and well-being.’ [And] it will ‘accentuate the disparities already evident in the American health care system, as many of the expected health effects are likely to fall disproportionately on the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and the uninsured.’
With a “thought” process like that, virtually any regulation will pass muster under this administration.
Moving to the center, I think not. The president’s executive order is merely a head fake.