Well, a man has to have a hobby — and a hobby horse. It won’t just be law-abiding gun owners who shoulder the brunt of Barack Obama’s attempts to build a legacy in the final full year of his time in the White House. Timothy Noah reports this morning that the White House has nearly 4,000 new regulations coming down the pike, ranging from gun control to Gitmo to the national plague of … e-cigarettes?
Nearly 4,000 regulations are squirming their way through the federal bureaucracy in the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency — many costing industry more than $100 million — in a mad dash by the White House to push through government actions affecting everything from furnaces to gun sales to Guantanamo. …
Much of this work will be carried out in the coming months by career bureaucrats working in the bowels of federal agencies, but the cumulative effect adds up to something larger: A final-year sprint by a president intent on using executive power to improve the lives of American workers and consumers — in many instances over loud objections from the businesses that will have to pay for it.
The work must be done swiftly in most cases because any regulation finalized after May 17 or thereabouts risks being blocked by Congress.
Well, maybe. Noah notes that Congress has 60 legislative days to vote to reject any regulatory changes, and that makes May 17 a rough deadline for the end of this session and Obama’s term. However, Congress has to pass the rejection as legislation, which means Obama can veto it — and Republicans probably don’t have enough Democrats to override the veto anyway.
After the deadline, Congress can pass the bills and have the next president sign them, Noah says in citing the urgency for Obama’s actions. However, if Republicans win the White House, those regulations are likely toast anyway regardless of what Congress does. And if Republicans don’t win the White House, then it’ll be the same status quo as now.
The dizzying amount of regulatory changes reflects the focus on unilateral power that Obama has ever since getting shellacked in two midterm elections. Rather than work with Congress on what possibilities still exist — tax reform, for instance — Obama wants to act provocatively by imposing his will on Americans through more rules and “redefinitions” of regulations. Among the latter is a redefinition of gun sellers, expected to be Obama’s big reveal next week. Never mind that literally none of the high-profile incidents that the White House is using to push its gun-control agenda has anything to do with this change — it’s a long-time gun-control agenda item, and Obama wants to check the box.
Obama also wants the FDA to extend its authority over e-cigarettes, at a potential cost of $810 million to the industry over the next generation:
E-cigarettes: The FDA also has in the works a rule extending its jurisdiction to e-cigarettes, which have become wildly popular with teenagers. (Last spring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that e-cigarette use by high school students tripled in 2014 to 13.4 percent.) The rule, which may ban the use of e-cigarettes by anyone under the age of 18, was first proposed 20 months ago, and a final version has been awaiting clearance from the Office of Management and Budget since October. “They’re being marketed to youth,” says the Center for Effective Government’s White. “It’s a huge problem.” Depending on the final composition of the rule, which may regulate other new tobacco products as well, its cost over 20 years could be anywhere from $20 million to $810 million, which might well put e-cigarettes out of business.
That’s clearly the intent. However, extension of authority in a federal agency should come from Congress, not the executive branch, and especially not the agency itself. Federal agencies under Obama’s governance have made a habit of this unconstitutional arrogance, which is a bit ironic considering Obama’s claims to be a constitutional scholar previous to his political career.
Unfortunately, elections have consequences. If Republicans want to reverse the massive expansion of the regulatory state, they had better figure out how to win the White House. When they do, the next President will have a very busy 2017 in reversing all of the nonsense that will transpire in 2016, let alone from 2009-2015.