Quotes of the day

“This order requires that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth. And it orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. It’s a review that will help bring order to regulations that have become a patchwork of overlapping rules, the result of tinkering by administrations and legislators of both parties and the influence of special interests in Washington over decades…

For instance, the FDA has long considered saccharin, the artificial sweetener, safe for people to consume. Yet for years, the EPA made companies treat saccharin like other dangerous chemicals. Well, if it goes in your coffee, it is not hazardous waste. The EPA wisely eliminated this rule last month…

“We’re also getting rid of absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money. We’re looking at the system as a whole to make sure we avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation. And finally, today I am directing federal agencies to do more to account for—and reduce—the burdens regulations may place on small businesses. Small firms drive growth and create most new jobs in this country. We need to make sure nothing stands in their way.”

“Republicans on Capitol Hill immediately protested that they had proposed such an idea in December 2009, and that the White House had sat on the measure for over a year in order to roll it out at a politically opportune moment.

“‘Leader Cantor handed this proposal directly to President Obama at the White House in December 2009 as a part of GOP’s ‘No-Cost Jobs Plan,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican…

“Cantor, a few hours after Obama’s executive order had entered the news cycle, issued a statement applauding Obama’s measure but adding that the government ‘must go further.'”

“So what does Obama see as an example of an excessive regulation needing repeal? The example he offers is the inclusion of the sweetener saccharin in the category of hazardous waste. Really? Saccharin as hazardous waste? Amid dozens of high-stakes, much-studied regulatory controversies, the only one he could come up with is one that — with all due respect to the people who make the little pink packets — is of hardly any significance to the wider economy, and not much more as a matter of principle?

“Even this administration could have made better deregulatory boasts than that. For example, in a fit of sense, the Obama Justice Department a while back adopted regulations specifying that the Americans with Disabilities Act should no longer (as of this March) be interpreted to require restaurants, theaters and other Main Street businesses to admit patrons’ non-canine ‘service animals’ such as monkeys, goats, snakes and spiders.

“But it was almost as if his point was to pick a regulation so minor that no one cared much about it one way or the other. Had the President’s speechwriters been looking for an example of a hazardous-substance rule that would actually get people talking about regulatory overreach, they might have picked EPA’s dairy-spill regulations, which (in the words of one report) ‘treat spilled milk like oil, requiring farmers to build extra storage tanks and form emergency spill plans….’ That one does have big and widespread economic costs.”

“Certainly simplifying the regulatory regime, removing conflicting and overlapping rules, eliminating redundant reporting requirements and moving much of what can be done on-line to that venue would help. But while that may make things more understandable and less onerous to do, it doesn’t really mean that intrusive regulation is going to go away or even be lessened.

“We’re back to how you define such regulation and what level of intrusiveness you believe is too much. There’s no doubt that the Obama administration believes in a level of intrusion far greater than do most on the right…

“So in essence, while the Obama op/ed has all the proper buzz words to attempt to sell it as a pro-business, small government move, it is in fact simply a restatement of an old premise that essentially says ‘government belongs in the areas it is now, we just need to clean it up a little’.”