By law, the Executive Branch is required to annually document the number of new regulatory actions it plans for the coming year, and to make this information publicly available. A search of this year’s information, posted online in recent days, reveals that the Obama Administration’s job-crushing regulatory barrage is not being scaled back, but rather expanded, appearing to contradict White House rhetoric this week about President Obama’s intent to reduce the regulatory burden on job creators.
A simple scan of the Obama Administration’s current regulatory agenda indicates that the Administration currently has 4,257 new regulatory actions in the works, of which at least 219 will have an economic impact of $100 million or more. That is an increase of nearly 15 percent over last year, when a similar search showed 191 new economically-significant regulatory actions by the Administration to be in the works. Americans know from the Administration’s own statements that some of these new economically-significant regulations will have an economic impact of tens of billions of dollars. But how many, exactly? The Administration hasn’t said.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today sent a letter to President Obama noting the scheduled increase in regulatory action by the Administration and asking that the White House provide Congress with a list of all of the regulatory actions it plans that would have an economic impact of $1 billion or more. The Speaker formally requested that the White House provide this information before Congress returns this fall, when the House is scheduled to resume work on legislation promised in the Pledge to America that would require congressional approval for any new regulatory action that is projected to have a significant impact on job creation.
Boehner sent a similar request for information to the president last August, when he was serving as House Republican leader. The requested information was never provided.
Susan E. Dudley, director of the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, wrote about the 219 economically-significant regulatory actions planned by the Obama Administration this week in a guest op-ed for POLITICO in which she noted the president’s actions this week are unlikely to have much impact. As Dudley noted:
“The government’s most recent agenda of upcoming regulations (issued in July) does not indicate a slow-down in activity. It does list 4,257 regulatory actions under development — more than 300 more than last year at this time. Of those, 219 are expected to impose costs of $100 million or more — 28 more ‘major’ regulations than were listed by this time last year, and 47 more than in 2009.
“Some activity is required by new legislative mandates — particularly [Dodd-Frank and Obamacare]. Others, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, are based on new judicial interpretations of statutes passed 20 or more years ago — and don’t necessarily reflect the priorities of any recent Congress. But some are discretionary actions, like EPA’s pending decision to tighten ozone standards. This is likely to slow economic growth in thousands of counties across the nation and impose costs of $20 billion to $90 billion per year, according to the agency’s own estimates.
“The reform efforts detailed in the agencies’ retrospective plans pale in comparison. Reforms that may promise real savings, like the Labor Department’s efforts to streamline some reporting requirements, at best offer paperwork burden reductions valued only in the millions. Other reporting reforms --like replacing paper submissions with electronic reports — might as easily facilitate regulatory enforcement as grant relief. Some agencies’ plans may actually increase uncertainty — like the Council on Environmental Quality’s commitment to periodically review its ‘categorical exclusions.’ These exemptions have traditionally provided potentially affected parties some certainty that projects would not face unexpected regulatory requirements.”
NOTE: You can also check it for yourself. The Obama Administration’s newly-updated regulatory agenda is posted online at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaMain. Right on the front page is a graph showing that 4,257 new regulatory actions are in the works. To dig a bit deeper on that number, one must go to the “Advanced Search” feature on the site, located at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaAdvancedSearch#. To reach that search page, go to the “search” box in the upper right corner of the main page, check the “agenda” box, and hit the search button, then click on the “Advanced Search” link that appears on the page that subsequently comes up. From there, check the option marked “Search most current publication only” and hit “continue.” On the next page that comes up, select the option “All,” and hit “continue” again. On the page that comes up, visitors are given the ability to break down the data based on a variety of different criteria. To obtain a list of the regulatory actions currently planned by the Administration that will have an economic impact of $100 million or more, go to the “Priority” options about halfway down the page on the left, and check the box marked “Economically Significant.” Hit the search button at the bottom of the page.