December 27, 2012

OMB report: ‘No regulatory tsunami’ on way

From: Washington Times

By Tim Devaney

The Obama administration is pushing back  against critics who have accused the president of unleashing a “regulatory  tsunami” against the business community.

In a long-delayed report from the White  House Office of Management and Budget, released just before the long holiday  weekend, a senior administration official, speaking “on background,” said the  list of new regulations for 2013 is actually shorter than it was in 2011 and  2012.

“This 2012 agenda makes clear that there is no ‘regulatory tsunami’ coming  from this administration,” the source said. “It actually includes slightly fewer  economically significant active rulemakings from executive agencies than the  previous two agendas.”

The White  House Office of Management and Budget is required by law to publish reports  twice a year on the proposed regulations that federal agencies such as the National Labor Relations  Board and Environmental  Protection Agency are considering.

But the Obama administration skipped the  spring report that usually comes out in April, and released the fall report two  months late, just days before Christmas and in  the middle of “fiscal cliff” negotiations, which some suggest was a move  designed to bury the report.

In October, when the Obama administration  had yet to turn in either report, known as the Unified Agenda, the chairman of  the House Education and the Workforce  Committee, Rep. John Kline, called the  president out on the delays.

“For some reason, they’re just not telling us — the American people,  businesses, Congress — what’s on the agenda,  what’s coming up,” said Mr. Kline, Minnesota  Republican. “It’s very troubling.”

Tom Donohue, the president of the U.S.  Chamber of Commerce, last year predicted a “regulatory tsunami” if the  president won re-election.

Some House Republicans and their allies in the business community speculated  the Obama administration delayed the report  until after the election for political purposes.

In his background comments on the report, the administration official pointed  out that just because a proposed rule makes the report doesn’t mean the agency  will go through with it. The rules must undergo “serious scrutiny” before that  happens. In fact, in 2012, only 43 of the 132 economically significant rules  that were in the last agenda have been finalized.

A proposed rule is considered economically significant if it would have a  financial impact of at least $100 million on the economy.

“It often includes a number of rules that are not issued in the following  year and other rules that may not be issued at all,” the source said.

But Mr. Kline called the delay in issuing  the report a “flagrant violation.”

“President Obama said this would be the most transparent government in  history,” Mr. Kline said in an interview about  the report back in October. “Instead, we’ve got a repeated pattern of contempt  for the law, bypassing the law.”

“It’s very frustrating for all of us in Congress and for the American people that this  administration has chosen to just disregard the law and, in many cases, the  Constitution, and just do what it chooses to do,” he added. “It’s happening  everywhere, we can’t get answers on Fast and Furious, we can’t get answers on  Benghazi, we can’t get answers anywhere.”

The list includes 68 proposed rules by the Department of Labor, covering  issues ranging from pension-benefit statements to blood-borne pathogens to  occupational exposure to Beryllium.

In September, a National Economic Research Associates report projected loss  of 887,000 jobs annually from the administration’s regulatory agenda. The  international economic firm said the coal industry would be hit hard, and the  job losses would continue through 2034.

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