While there is much in today’s address by President Obama to the US Chamber of Commerce to unpack, one issue that deserves response were his remarks about addressing unnecessary regulation. The President again promoted his government-wide search for “outdated and unnecessary regulations,” stating that “if there are rules on the books that are needlessly stifling job creation and economic growth, we will fix them.” But as Heritage’s regulatory expert James Gattuso explained last month, while those are encouraging words, it seems likely there isn’t much substance behind them:
Rather than require agencies to identify harmful regulations during the next 120 days, or even to eliminate unwarranted rules, the order [on reviewing federal regulations] merely requires agencies to submit a “preliminary plan” for reviewing regulations sometime in the future, with the goal of making their regulatory program either less burdensome or “more effective.” And despite promises of transparency elsewhere in the order, the results of any regulatory reviews conducted are required to be released online only “whenever possible.”
But regardless of how real the President’s initiative is, this remains an important issue and one that deserves real action. If the President wants to find areas where regulation is posing a serious threat, there are no shortage of places to look. Recently, Heritage released a list of the top 20 burdensome regulations that should be immediately eliminated in addition to our annual Red Tape Rising Report, which this year identified 43 new major regulations. From credit card fees to the war on the lightbulb, these reports would excellent resources for an Administration serious about regulatory reform.
In short, the President faces a choice: he can either continue to talk about tackling regulation or he can actually take concerete steps to free Americans from unnecessary regulations which hamper economic growth.