White House to Reform Health, Business Rules; Effort to Cut Red Tape Elicits Little Enthusiasm from GOP or Groups

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Byline: Kara Rowland, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The White House said Tuesday it's going to tweak some 500 regulations it says have unnecessarily tied companies' hands, but the announcement drew little enthusiasm from a business community that doubts the action will do much to overcome a slew of new health care and financial regulations.

President Obama's regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, touted the reforms - which range from an Environmental Protection Agency initiative to allow hazardous-waste generators to report electronically to a consolidation of various tax forms and requirements by the Internal Revenue Service - as an unprecedented effort to cut bureaucratic red tape.

The president has directed agencies to give careful consideration to both benefits and costs, to promote public input and listen to stakeholders, to simplify and harmonize rules, to select approaches that promote innovation, and to consider flexible approaches that reduce burdens and maintain freedom of choice, Mr. Sunstein wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

The reforms are a culmination of a months-long regulatory review Mr. Obama initiated with an executive order in January. Briefing reporters on a conference call, Mr. Sunstein said the changes would save an estimated $10 billion over five years and result in new jobs.

But business groups, who have long decried what they describe as burdensome rules that hinder job creation, were lukewarm.

The administration's findings and determinations, on their own, are a worthy effort at making technical changes to the regulatory process, but the results of this look back will not have a material impact on the real regulatory burdens facing businesses today, Bill Kovacs, vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs for the U. …