“We're looking at the system as a whole to make sure we avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation.”
—President Obama, Wall Street Journal op-ed, January 18, 2011
The President’s regulatory machine continues to operate in overdrive despite the stated intentions of his executive orders to slow the job-crushing pace of rulemaking. Former chief economist at the Department of Labor, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, highlighted the recent release of the Unified Agenda, a bi-annual report on federal regulatory activities from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a division of Office of Management and Budget (OMB):
“[T]he president’s spring regulatory agenda contains 4,257 proposed rules, up from 4,225 proposed rules in the fall, and 3,943 this time last year. On the one hand, Obama asks for simplification. On the other hand, his agencies spew paperwork requirements.
Take one small set of Labor Department rules from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance governing rules on federal contractors. This small office has jurisdiction over 26 million workers, about 22 percent of the civilian workforce.
One proposed rule, titled “Affirmative Action and Nondiscrimination Obligations of Contractors and Subcontractors Regarding Protected Veterans,” takes up 67 pages in the Federal Register. Not single- or double-spaced pages, but pages with three columns of dense type.
Discrimination against veterans is already illegal, and the unemployment rate for all veterans is lower than the unemployment rate of nonveterans. But the proposed rule would require new procedures for federal contractors that would be time-consuming and costly.”
In economic terms, when business owners and managers spend time and money complying with federal paperwork burdens, the opportunity cost, or what is foregone, is market development and business expansion that create jobs.
What are House Republicans doing?
The House passed H.Res. 72 on February 11, 2011, a resolution that would direct ten standing committees to inventory and review existing, pending, and proposed government regulations by agencies within their jurisdiction.
At a July 7, 2011 hearing of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) asked Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Robert McDowell if the FCC had to satisfy a more robust justification of its net neutrality orders using market power analysis or a cost-benefit analysis whether the Commission would have reached the same conclusion. He responded: “Yes, because the process was outcome driven.” Blackburn later highlighted the inherent challenge in limiting the job-destroying influence of these independent regulatory agencies, noting, “His response was an indictment of the FCC, proving that we need to move these agencies away from being driven by activists pursuing social outcomes to being grounded in regulatory humility and statutory obedience.”