Thursday, September 29, 2011
Two cheers for Obama’s review of regulations

By Gretchen Hamel

Talk to any backyard gardener and they’ll tell you about the importance of weed control for a healthy garden. Weeds, allowed to grow unchecked, will soak up nutrients from the soil and block much needed sunlight from reaching your plants—choking off the bountiful growth of produce and flowers you hope to achieve.

 The U.S. economy is a lot like a garden. Unfortunately, the explosive growth of harmful federal regulations and red tape over the last few decades has had the same effect on our economy that weeds have on your garden—they’re choking off the growth we need to increase productivity and create jobs for working Americans.

 That’s why I was encouraged by the Obama administration’s announcement last month that, following an eight-month review, hundreds of existing federal regulations that weigh as a burden on business and drag down economic growth would be eliminated or revised. The estimated savings for business is around $10 billion, according to the administration.

 In the August 23 Wall Street Journal, the president’s “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein pointed to more than 500 reforms in the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Departments of Labor, Transportation, and Health and Human Services, among others. These reforms would have the salutary effect of reducing paperwork, simplifying reporting processes and eliminating redundancy.

 Importantly, Sunstein also emphasized that we could expect more changes to come, stating that “the regulatory look-back is not a one-time endeavor.” He writes that the government “will continue to revisit existing rules, asking whether they should be updated, streamlined or repealed.” That’s welcome news, and long overdue.

 Regulations may seem like an abstraction, but they have real consequences: higher compliance costs for business result in higher prices for consumers in virtually every area. Americans instinctively understand this: In our recent poll, 74 percent of Americans—almost three-quarters—said they believe that U.S. business and consumers are too heavily regulated, and that more regulations drive up costs.

 It’s important to note that we didn’t get here overnight. Today’s jungle of red tape and regulations has flourished under successive presidencies and Congresses, under both Democratic and Republican leadership. President Obama should be commended for opening up an approach to clearing a path through that jungle.

 Many business leaders and Republican elected officials dismissed the announcement, arguing that the $10 billion in savings is just a drop in the bucket (which is true) and that the scope of the review is too limited, leaving countless equally harmful regulations untouched while new regulations continue to be enacted (also true.)

 But the fact is, every journey starts with a single step, so if you support American business and free enterprise, you should cheer this development as a step in the right direction. A reassuring follow-up to Sunstein’s announcement was the administration’s decision to halt planned regulations aimed at tightening ozone standards, which business and labor leaders warned would result in up to 250,000 lost jobs.

 I’ve been critical of the president and both parties in Congress for their lack of leadership on the national debt (now at $14.7 trillion) and their addiction to deficit spending (estimated this year at $1.3 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office). That’s because I know that debt and runaway spending are hampering economic growth and destroying our nation’s fiscal future.

 So when the president takes steps to open up greater possibilities for job creation and economic growth, we should applaud that development—and make it clear that we expect him to deliver more of the same.

 Key to that effort will be holding the Obama administration accountable for building upon this initial progress. Too often in Washington, efforts at reform are announced with a flourish and then quietly fade away. Let’s not let that happen: we should hold the president to account and encourage him to follow through on this worthy beginning by delivering further reforms to ease the regulatory burden on job creators.

 Here’s hoping this $10 billion in savings through regulatory reform will get the ball rolling so that in another eight months we might see additional reforms leading to, say, $100 billion or even more.

 Is that too much to hope for? Perhaps. Ensuring that the administration follows through on this early promise will be the key thing. But for now, let’s give credit where credit is due, and encourage President Obama and his team to keep going. More regulatory reform will serve to cut business costs, spur entrepreneurship and create American jobs—the “healthy garden” that we want our economy to be.

 So keep pulling those weeds, Mr. President. You’re on the right track. 

Gretchen Hamel is Executive Director of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit dedicated to providing facts and insight on the economy and how government policy affects Americans’ financial well being.

Posted at 13:41 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Comments View Comments   
No Comments Found.

Login Login
Email Address* :
Password* :

New Registration Forgot Password?
Categories Categories
Al Fonzi
Andy Caldwell
Ashly Donavan
Bill Glynn
Dan Logue
Darin Selnick
Dr. George Watson
Dr. Jane Orient, M.D.
Dr. Mike Tabor
Dr. Wendy James
Gary Beckner
Gordon Mullin
Gretchen Hamel
Harris Sherline
Janet Cronick
Jerry Scheidbach
Joe Armendariz
Judson Phillips
Lowell Ponte
Matt Barber
Matt Kokkonen
Mike Brown
Mike Gorbell
Mike Stoker
Phil Kiver
Richard Cochrane
Richard Fryer
Richard S. Quandt
Robert Jeffers
Robyn Hayhurst
Roger Hedgecock
Rooster Bradford
Santa Barbara City Watch
Stephen Wallace, M.S. Ed.
RSS Feed RSS Feed
Top 10 Recent BlogRSS Feed
Al FonziRSS Feed
Andy CaldwellRSS Feed
Ashly DonavanRSS Feed
Bill GlynnRSS Feed
Dan LogueRSS Feed
Darin SelnickRSS Feed
Dr. George WatsonRSS Feed
Dr. Jane Orient, M.D.RSS Feed
Dr. Mike TaborRSS Feed
Dr. Wendy JamesRSS Feed
Gary BecknerRSS Feed
Gordon MullinRSS Feed
Gretchen HamelRSS Feed
Harris SherlineRSS Feed
Janet CronickRSS Feed
Jerry Scheidbach RSS Feed
Joe ArmendarizRSS Feed
Judson PhillipsRSS Feed
Lowell PonteRSS Feed
Matt BarberRSS Feed
Matt KokkonenRSS Feed
Mike BrownRSS Feed
Mike GorbellRSS Feed
Mike StokerRSS Feed
Phil KiverRSS Feed
Richard CochraneRSS Feed
Richard FryerRSS Feed
Richard S. QuandtRSS Feed
Robert JeffersRSS Feed
Robyn HayhurstRSS Feed
Roger HedgecockRSS Feed
Rooster BradfordRSS Feed
Santa Barbara City WatchRSS Feed
Stephen Wallace, M.S. Ed.RSS Feed
Archives Archives
Skip Navigation Links.
Tag Cloud Tag Cloud                      
Validator Validator