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U.S. Chamber of Commerce President: “More Regs, More Problems”

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by Publius, Publius
Posted September 26, 2013, 8:32 AM

Thomas J. Donohue, President & CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an op-ed in The Hill yesterday:

In an era of overregulation, more is the order of the day.

We’ve got more regulations coming down the pike; federal regulators are churning them out at a rate of 4,000 a year. The sheer volume of new rules and mandates is breeding uncertainty, driving up costs, and stifling hiring and investment.

We’re seeing a surge in “economically significant” rules, those bearing a price tag of $100 million or more. In 2003, the number of economically significant rules was 127. In 2012, 224 of these massive, costly regulations were in the pipeline.

We’ve got regulations that are so big and complex that they’re creating bloated bureaucracies that aren’t getting the job done. Look no further than the Dodd-Frank Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sweeping overhauls of the financial regulatory and healthcare systems that are falling short.

The 2,319-page Dodd-Frank Act calls for more than 400 new rules across 20 different agencies, creating duplication, contradiction and confusion. Ironically, the law that was intended to end “too big to fail” is too complex to implement. Three years after passage, amid missed deadlines and only 40 percent of the rules being completed, the president convened regulators and urged them to speed things up. What they really need to do is take their time and get it right. We should fix what’s broken in Dodd-Frank, address the areas that are unresolved and replace the provisions that will not work.

The 2,400-page healthcare law created 159 new agencies, panels, commissions, regulatory bodies and mandates. Some three and a half years after being signed by the president, the law has proven to be largely unworkable. The healthcare law has been significantly revised through regulatory delays, waivers and tweaks — most often through dubious, unilateral action. We need to minimize the negative impact and shift our efforts to the private-sector-driven reforms that will truly lower costs, improve care, and expand access.

On the environment, we’ve faced proposed regulations so broad and sweeping that they threaten the strength of our economy, the existence of entire industries, and even the reliability of our power grid. Last week we saw re-proposed greenhouse gas regulations for new power plants. And next year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will issue performance standards for existing power plants.

Let’s hope the EPA’s revamped proposal doesn’t do what its earlier proposal would have done: written off our huge, affordable coal resources by essentially outlawing the construction of new plants. The EPA must also consider the economic impact of its rules and allow significant input from those who will be regulated.

To be clear, we’re not against regulations. We want clean air, sturdy markets and access to affordable healthcare. But when you attempt to address large and intricate challenges with complicated rules, you risk creating more problems and greater complexity than you started out with. When you give the government outsize authority and put it in charge of changes that could be better driven by the private sector, you lose efficiency, speed, and effectiveness. And when the actual costs and negative impacts of regulations outweigh the benefits, they can’t be justified.

Congress has several bipartisan opportunities to make common-sense reforms to the system so that it will be more open and effective and less complex and cumbersome.

The Regulatory Accountability Act would ensure that regulations are narrowly tailored, supported by strong evidence and credible data, and impose the least burden possible while still implementing congressional intent.

Responsibly And Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act would foster job creation by requiring the government to process permits in a timely manner.

The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act would bring transparency to the secret rule-making process known as “sue and settle,” directing agencies to notify the public when they are entering into consent decrees that require new regulations. Such notice would allow the public to inform the court of the problems with the settlement, helping prevent future litigation over new regulations.

These three bills would for the first time in decades ensure efficiency, transparency and greater public participation in the regulatory process.

Additionally, stakeholders — like the business community and industries that stand to be impacted — must have opportunities to provide guidance and feedback. And the courts must always remain an avenue for redress when all else fails.

The economy, our workers and our businesses should not have to endure the burden of continued overregulation. We don’t need to learn this costly and consequential lesson again. When it comes to regulations, more isn’t always more.

Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses.

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