Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Republicans Swinging Ax at Regulators, Regulations

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Republicans Swinging Ax at Regulators, Regulations

Article excerpt

IF YOU'RE A bureaucrat, you'd better run for cover.

Risk assessment, cost-benefit analysis, "sound science" - these are terms that will be heard often in Congress as the Contract with America proponents tackle regulatory relief.

Last week, the House followed the Senate's lead by approving legislation that will make it harder for Congress to pass laws costly to state and local governments. The unfunded mandates bill is just the beginning of a broad offensive on the federal government that may turn out to be one of the most successful parts of the House GOP's contract.

Parts of the contract - notably term-limits for members of Congress and the "Common Sense Legal Reform Act" - are in trouble, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said last week. But the Republicans are encountering no such problems when it comes to attacking the federal government.

Frank Luntz, a poll-taker and a co-author of the contract, advised House Republicans to keep up the pressure in a memorandum he wrote to them. He wrote, "Individual programs have friends. Bureaucracies and bureaucrats don't. Therefore, focus the general rhetorical attack on the `Washington bureaucracy.' "

Congress is doing just that after a month under Republican control.

This week the House is expected to pass a bill giving the president line-item veto power. This means that the president could make spending cuts on his own, unless Congress musters a two-thirds majority to override.

Then, before turning to the anti-regulatory bills, Congress will take up anti-crime proposals in the House GOP contract including one to give block grants to states and cities to hire police and to tie such grants for new prisons to tough sentencing.

Besides the anti-mandate bill, the House already has passed a proposal to let states vote on an amendment to the Constitution that would force a balanced budget by 2002.

These successes prompted Speaker Gingrich to assert last week that the Contract with America is right on schedule.

Rep. James M. Talent, R-Mo., said he thinks that House Republicans under the contract "will get just about all of what we want" in the end and that by voting on each measure in the first 100 days will fulfill their promise to voters last fall.

But House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., asserted that, whatever portion of the contract gets passed, the Republican-led Congress is doing little to help the real concerns of people.

"I don't think that voters will be impressed if the Congress passes half or two-thirds or five-sixths of the contract, if it doesn't do anything to positively influence their lives," Gephardt said.

Nonetheless, the anti-bureaucracy portions of the contract are striking a chord with many people. In his memo to Republican House members, pollster Luntz said one survey showed that voters would get rid of 30 percent of federal bureaucrats. Senate Gets In The Act

With public opinion in mind, the Senate began its own anti-bureaucracy drive last week by introducing what was called the Regulatory Reform Act of 1995. Part of it would give Congress 45 days to cancel any federal regulation that its members consider unreasonable.

Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo., chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business, is sponsoring a separate feature that brings in another branch of government to look over bureaucrats' shoulders. Bond's judicial review legislation would make it easier for a small business to challenge in court whether the federal government has adequately considered the burden of regulation. …

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