Regulations to headline D.C. debate

Published: Friday, Sept. 2 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

With Congress due to reconvene in Washington, D.C., Sept. 7 and President Barack Obama scheduled to present a jobs-focused speech on Sept, 8, government regulations are expected to take center stage in the coming months.

In January, Obama issued an executive order to step up oversight of governmentissued regulations, saying in an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal that his administration would seek a balance of protecting the public interest and easing unreasonable burdens on business.

Where necessary, we wont shy away from addressing obvious gaps: new safety rules for infant formula; procedures to stop preventable infections in hospitals; efforts to target chronic violators of workplace safety laws, the president writes. But we are also making it our mission to root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb.

In August, the administration released regulatory reform plans officials say will save businesses $10 billion over five years.

As the president has said, We can make our economy stronger and more competitive, while meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another, Cass Sunstein, the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, writes in the Wall Street Journal. We will continue to eliminate unjustified regulatory costs — and thus to strengthen our economy — while taking sensible, cost-effective, evidence-based steps to protect public health and welfare.

According to USA Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce withheld its full endorsement of the rules, saying more needed to be done to help businesses.

The administrations finding and determinations, on their own, are a worthy effort at making technical changes to the regulatory process, Bill Kovacs said. But the results of this lookback will not have a material impact on the real regulatory burdens facing businesses today.

Since the executive order in January, the administration has successfully repealed only one rule — a rule that treated spilled milk like an oil spill — Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wy., says in The Washington Times.

By contrast, since the start of the year, the administration has proposed more than 340 regulations at the cost of more than $65 billion to job creators, he said. It is important to note that these are only the regulations for which the administration actually conducted an economic analysis.

If the federal governments regulatory operation were a business, it would be one of the 50 biggest in the country in terms of revenue, and would have more people working for it than McDonalds, Ford, Disney and Boeing combined, Investors.com reports.

According to Reginfo.gov, the government website detailing federal regulations, there are currently 4,257 regulations in the works. In contrast, there are 10 government agencies with regulations under review, in accordance with the presidents executive order. The regulations under review total 127.

In a letter to the president written by Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Aug. 26, Boehner broke down the regulation numbers to identify 219 planned new regulations that would cost in excess of $100 million each.

Boehner asked the administration to provide a list of pending and planned rules with a projected economic impact of more than $1 billion.

The president sent a letter in response, stating that seven rules fitting those parameters have been proposed. However, Obama cautions, the rules are merely proposed, and before finalizing any of them, we will take account of public comments and concerns and give careful consideration to cost-saving possibilities and alternatives.

The regulations include:

National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Coal- and Oil-Fire Electric Utility Stream Generating Units. Cost estimate: $10 billion.

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