Forward!, over the regulatory cliff

While the priority (well, some people’s priority) at the moment is avoiding falling off the fiscal cliff because of the damage the sudden smack of across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts would inflict upon the economy, and while Republicans have been plenty vocal about the deeply negative economic impact that would also come from Obama’s plan of removing more money from the private sector via hiking taxes on families making more than 250k/year, let’s not forget about the other means the Obama administration has at their disposal to continue hampering economic growth (which, funnily enough, is the one thing that would bring both the revenue and prosperity for which they claim to be shooting).

While both the fiscal cliff and Obama’s tax hikes are still to-be-determined, the new year will start to show more signs of the policy mechanisms already in the works that are going to take a big bite out of Americans’ economic productivity. ObamaCare springs immediately to mind, but the administration’s many minions are already running around composing the rules and regulations they put off until after the election that are going to pose considerable compliance and opportunity costs on businesses across the country:

In recent weeks, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed rules to update water quality guidelines for beaches and other recreational waters and deal with runoff from logging roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, meanwhile, has proposed long-delayed regulations requiring auto makers to include event data recorders — better known as “black boxes” — in all new cars and light trucks beginning in 2014.

The administration also has initiated several rules to implement its health care overhaul, including a new fee to cushion the cost of covering people with pre-existing conditions. …

Obama has spent the past year “punting” on a slew of job-killing regulations that will be unleashed in a second term, said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. …

A new study by the National Association of Manufacturers claims major new EPA rules could cost manufacturers hundreds of billions of dollars and eliminate millions of American jobs.

Even the government’s reliably-rosy outlook is projecting that our economy is scheduled to stay on the strugglebus for awhile yet, and whether or not we directly hike tax rates, it’s only going to get worse as these rules finally start to get written. Sen. Rob Portman called out President Obama in a letter on Wednesday for his administration’s inexplicable failure to publish their legally required regulatory outlook, on which we’re all still eagerly waiting:

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), former Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), today sent a letter to the President asking why his Administration has failed to publish its Spring 2012 and Fall 2012 Regulatory Agendas identifying regulations under development, as required by law and executive order. …

“President Obama promised the most transparent administration in history, but he has failed to comply with the basic duty to publish plans for new regulations, as required by federal law,” Portman said.  “The Administration first skipped the required Spring regulatory plans without any explanation and has also now missed the deadline for the Fall agenda.  This troubling pattern calls into question whether the Administration has abandoned this important tradition of openness in government.”

For nearly three decades, presidents of both parties have published a twice-annual “regulatory agenda” identifying all planned and expected regulations.  These spring and fall regulatory agendas are required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act and by Executive Order 12,866, issued by President Clinton and reaffirmed by President Obama last year.

But this year, the Obama Administration inexplicably failed to release the required Spring 2012 Regulatory Agenda and has now missed the deadline for the Fall 2012 plans.  Although the Obama Administration set a “firm deadline” to collect agency plans by April 13, eight months have passed and the plans have still not been made public.