Monday, August 19, 2013

Regulation nation: Obama expands the regulatory state - The Hill's RegWatch

President Obama has overseen a dramatic expansion of the regulatory state that will outlast his time in the White House.

The reach of the executive branch has advanced steadily on his watch, further solidifying the power of bureaucrats who churn out regulations that touch nearly every aspect of American life and business.

Experts debate whether federal rulemaking has accelerated under Obama, but few dispute that Washington — for better or worse — is reaching deeper than ever before into the workings of society.

“It would be difficult for anyone to pretend that this isn’t a high water mark in terms of regulation,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office who now heads the American Action Forum.

Obama famously signaled his intent to use the machinery of government to further his policy goals after the 2010 elections, declaring: “Where Congress won’t act, I will.” 

Since then, the administration has pressed ahead unilaterally on several fronts, including immigration, gun control, cyber security and sentencing guidelines for drug offenses.

Meanwhile, new federal rules are accumulating faster than outdated ones are removed, resulting in a steady increase in the number of federal mandates.
Data collected by researchers at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center shows that the Code of Federal Regulations, where all rules and regulations are detailed, has ballooned from 71,224 pages in 1975 to 174,545 pages last year.
“All incentives are to regulate more,” said Susan Dudley, the director of George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center.
The fight over executive power is increasingly pitting the three branches of government against each other, with Congress and the judiciary struggling to assert power over officials with broad discretion to issue rules.
While Republican lawmakers have scored victories in the messaging battle over regulations, they say proponents of a more activist government are winning the war.

“We sit back and watch this erosion and watch, really, an executive branch that has, I think, arrogant powers of overseeing things,” Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) told The Hill.

Taken separately, the public tends to support individual regulations. 
A Gallup poll earlier this year found that 82 percent of Americans either believe the government is doing the right amount or needs to do more to protect the environment, while two-thirds say they would support stricter standards for food sold in public schools.
But critics, including industry groups and congressional Republicans, charge that the cumulative affect of the mounting red tape is crushing businesses. 
“All the kinds of things we say we want: an expanding economy, more opportunity, more jobs — all of them are stifled by the regulatory oppression that’s occurred,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.). 

Obama has responded to business’s concerns with a regulatory “look-back” aimed at scrapping old rules on the books. Howard Shelanski, the administration’s regulatory chief, told Congress last month that the effort had turned up hundreds of regulatory reform proposals, just a few of which could save up to $10 billion.
But the process of getting rid of regulations is easier said than done, experts say.

CONTINUED:  Regulation nation: Obama expands the regulatory state - The Hill's RegWatch

No comments:

Post a Comment