Filed under: Economy, Law, Liberalism, Statism | Tags: Eliminating Regulations?, Excessive Regulation, Obama's Regulatory Morass
If, as we asserted, excessive regulation is one of the biggest barriers to hiring, to more job creation, what is the Obama administration doing about it?
Is is truly, as law professor Todd Zywiki says: the Obama administration believes “in a regulatory state in which regulators are seen as disinterested experts with the factual knowledge, practical wisdom, and unwavering integrity to manage the economy. They alone are presumed to be capable of steering the nation toward prosperity.”
I certainly don’t believe in any ‘disinterested experts.’ I’m a little suspicious of anyone claiming to be an expert in much of anything, and when you get into ‘practical wisdom’ and ‘unwavering integrity’ you have lost me entirely.
Remember that President Obama has hired a regulatory czar, Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, whose official title is Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is part of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Mr. Sunstein recently wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal titled “21st Century Regulation: An Update of the President’s Reforms.”
He said “A 21-st century regulatory system must promote economic growth, innovation and job-creation while also protecting public health and welfare. Earlier this year, President Obama outlined his plan to create such a system by adopting a simpler, smarter and more cost-effective approach to regulation. As a key part of that plan, he called for an unprecedented government-wide review of regulations already on the books so that we can improve or remove those that are out-of-date, unnecessary, excessively burdensome or in conflict with other rules.
I’ll bet there is a regulation that requires all members of the administration, when speaking about policies, to include ‘21st Century.’ “innovation,” simpler, smarter and more cost-effective,” and “unprecedented.” The Obama administration seems unusually determined to insist that everything they do is 21st Century. I spent most of my life in the 20th Century, and I can’t recall anyone ever making a big deal about what century it was.
At any rate, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is “eliminating over 1.9 million hours of redundant reporting burdens on employers, saving tens of millions of dollars every year.” They are getting rid of regulations that require ‘film x-rays instead of digital.’
The EPA is going to quit defining milk as an “oil” as it has been since 1970, and eliminating the costly rules on the agricultural community designed to prevent “oil spills.” Dairy farmers will get an exemption. This will save $1.4 billion over the next decade. They also propose to eliminate the obligation for many states to require air pollution vapor recovery systems at local gas stations, since modern vehicles already have effective air pollution control technologies. The projected annual savings are $67 million.
Other agencies are proposing, or considering, or pursuing. They have been listening, and developing plans, and two-and-a-half-years into the Obama administration, Mr. Sunstein is releasing reform plans. Which, of course, is a defining moment.
Heritage defines this as the low-hanging fruit of regulatory relief — things that should have never been instituted and repealed long ago. Dairy farmers have been asking for repeal of the “oil spill” regulations since 2007. Most “actions” are simply suggestions for change at some later date. Of the 31 rules in the EPA’s formal plan, only two are actual rule changes. The fact that it took 4 years to get the oil spill regulations changed demonstrates how broken the regulatory system is. The EPA is a veritable treasure vault of unnecessary regulation, and the spigot of new regulation is still flowing full-on.
It is encouraging that they are trying to do something, but it remains way easier to issue new rules than it is to get everybody to agree that one can be parted with. Don’t expect too much. The uncertainty remains.