POLITICS

House Report: Obama, the regulator-in-chief, is hurting the economy

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

President Obama has weakened the economy through an unprecedented rash of high-cost regulations that cater to his “environmental or union allies” but kill jobs, according to a new report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

In 2011, Obama’s regulatory agencies imposed 3,807 new rules on various sectors of the economy that Oversight staff expect to cost over $105 billion this year alone. As of the fall of 2011, federal regulators were considering 133 new “economically significant rules” — that is, regulations that would each cost over $100 million annually.

“While the Obama Administration may have issued fewer total regulations, they have issued far more of the most expensive regulations at a higher cost,” says the staff report, which was released to The Washington Examiner in conjunction with today’s hearing on “regulatory impediments to job creation.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the most egregious offender in terms of unnecessary or costly regulations, the report indicates. “Over 40 EPA regulations that were a problem for job creators in February 2011 remain a problem,” House staff noted. The report creates the impression that the EPA as an agency willing to regulate first and let the law catch up, especially in its claim to authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

For instance, House investigators criticized the EPA’s approach to regulating the Pebble Mine, a mineral mining project in Alaska.  “It appears that EPA is considering using an unprecedented and legally questionable interpretation of the CWA to preemptively veto permits for the Pebble Mine,” the House report relates. “In fact, the EPA believes that it possesses the authority to deny a permit before a sponsor even applies,” the staffers note.

And the EPA offers Orwellian interpretations of the Clean Water Act in order to expand its regulatory reach, according to the staff report. “[T]he EPA is aiming to expand the definition of U.S. waters that are ‘navigable’ in some cases to even small depressions or farm ponds that do not impair the flow of rivers,” the report says, citing the National Federation of Independent Businesses and other trade groups. (The EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act only applies to “navigable” waters, and so such a redefinition of the term would extend its reach dramatically.)

Based on a number of actions by the National Labor Relations Board — such as the “quickie election” that allowed unions to organize a unionization drive in just 20 days, rather than the average of 39 days — the committee report determined that Obama is patronizing his union supporters at the expense of the economy.

“Business organizations argue that the rule greatly limits an employer’s ability to lawfully educate employees and ’tilt[s] the playing field in favor of organized labor’ at the expense of free speech and due process rights,” the staff report relates. “It is also believed that the NLRB significantly underestimated the cost of the rule and that small businesses, in particular, will be hit hard by costly legal fees.”

A federal court blocked the quickie elections rule because it was issued when the NLRB did not have a quorum, but the rule could come again in the future.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform law poses yet another threat to the economy, according this report. “Rules attributed to the Dodd-Frank Act will grow from 36 implemented today to roughly 400 required under the act,” the report warns. One rule pertaining to derivatives”would have to sideline up to $6.7 billion in working capital and cost 100,000 jobs,” the report says based on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Roundtable.

“The feedback the Committee received demonstrates that the regulatory environment and the private sector are far from ‘doing fine,” the committee report concludes. “It appears that the Obama Administration is going against its promise and promoting substantially more regulation than the ‘health, safety and security of the American people require.’”

 

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