Byline: Rep. Cliff Stearns, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), recently outlined how he and others in the White House Office of Management and Budget were eliminating bureaucratic red tape in the executive branch agencies. In fact, while the rollout of the White House's widely touted regulatory reform initiative may have started with a bang, it has followed with a whimper. In contrast to the fanfare surrounding issuance of Executive Order 13563, or his May 26 announcement of the preliminary results of a government-wide review of the current morass of federal regulations, Mr. Sunstein's Aug. 23 release of final agency plans to scale back regulations was, for the most part, a non-event.
Rather, the Obama administration's latest announcement is sadly nothing more than a Band-Aid to treat our nation's severed economic artery at a time when investment has all but evaporated and jobs are scarce. From industrial giants to small business start-ups, our nation's job creators are sitting on trillions of dollars in capital because they are concerned with the countless regulations created by the Obama administration, all of which are adding uncertainty to the oppressive regulatory environment.
Mr. Sunstein has appeared twice before the subcommittee I lead within the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. At a Jan. 26 hearing, I took issue with the amorphous standard for regulatory review set out in Executive Order 13563 and specifically, that where appropriate and permitted by law, each agency may consider (and discuss qualitatively) values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness and distributive impacts. I was concerned then and continue to be until this day that reliance on such imprecise criteria may subvert any serious attempt at cost-benefit analysis.
At this and a subsequent hearing, on June 3, my colleagues and I also shared with Mr. Sunstein our concern that the president's gestures toward regulatory relief are likely to ring hollow, especially as some agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, punt most of their relief savings down the road. While some very outdated rules might be cut back or eliminated, the Obama administration is doing nothing to slow the ongoing regulatory juggernaut of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nor address the thousands of pages of bureaucratic burdens released so far to implement a massive takeover of health care and the controversial …