Ayotte doing her part to keep Obama honest
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte announced yesterday that she has signed on as a co-sponsor of the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act. The legislation, introduced by new Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, would give Congress an unprecedented level of oversight over the Executive branch and regulatory agencies by requiring Congressional ratification of any major new regulatory rules (“major” being defined as any rule that would have a net impact of over $100 million annually). The REINS legislation comes on the back of a similar bill introduced in the House just days ago; House Committees have already begun drawing up the oversight plan that would go into effect if the bill is passed.
It would seem that this is a rare instance where President Obama and Congressional Republicans agree on an issue. In a Jan. 18th op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Obama addressed the need for the government to “strike a balance” between eliminating “dumb and outdated” regulations that are harming job growth while still being responsible in terms of public safety. Timed with the publication of the op-ed, he also released an Executive Order dictating that all new regulatory rules must be designed to be as job-friendly as possible. With his speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce earlier this week (in which he referred to the business community as “we” and “us” more than 60 times) the President has scored a hat trick of business-friendly publicity coups.
The rubber will meet the road when it comes to implementation. Not only whether Obama will actively turn his words into deeds, but also whether the progressive community and entrenched bureaucracy will let him. Liberal groups have already started pushing back on what many of them see as the President pandering to the business community in the run-up to the election, and the slow-as-molasses character of the federal bureaucracy does not exactly lend itself to quick streamlining.
Big Government rounds up a few of the major rules and regs currently coming down the pike:
• Just days before Christmas, the FCC voted in “Net Neutrality,” an unprecedented power grab on par or greater than Obamacare. Under this scheme, the FCC essentially gave itself regulatory power over telecommunications companies, a job it was never intended to do.
• Speaking of Obamacare, contained within it’s own regulatory scheme is a terrifying Medicare reform project called IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board. IPAB consists of 15 unelected officials charged with making drastic cuts to Medicare benefits – cuts that don’t require Congressional approval and can only be reversed by a Congressional supermajority.
• On the education front, it seems that the Department of Education has been relying on the advice of noted short-sellers as it and Congress formulates policy on for-profit colleges. New rules like the “gainful employment” rule threaten to punish students for choosing not to attend favored non-profit schools and universities in favor of career-oriented schools.
• Across the country, the National Labor Relations Board has been threatening legal action against state legislation designed to protect workers from “Card Check” legislation at the behest of the Obama Administration.
• Although the Clean Air Act was never intended to regulate carbon emissions, the EPA is threatening to use it to punish energy-producing industries that it doesn’t like, like biomass, a plan that could cost Americans nearly a million jobs. At the same time, the EPA is revoking permits for clean coal operations, and despite promising to restore oil and gas production in the Gulf, the Obama Administration has failed to issue new drilling permits, resulting in a de-facto moratorium on domestic oil production.
All this makes it clear that putting a halt to these rules, all of which are would-be disasters for the economy and business climate, cannot be left to a President who is facing deep opposition from within his own Party. It would be too easy for Obama to talk the talk of cutting wasteful regulations and then blame process-related factors when he fails to walk the walk. It is essential that Congress take matters into their own hands to fix our regulatory system, and the legislation that Sen. Ayotte is supporting is an important step in that direction.
When it comes to trusting an administration that has presided over the largest expansion of the federal government in decades to streamline government agencies and programs, Congress and the American people would be wise to trust, but verify.