An official from the Obama administration outlined a plan to reduce the amount of government regulations on businesses in the United States that will save them an estimated $10 billion. Critics argue that the plan is too little and too late.
The Tuesday announcement, from Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, represents the culmination of an effort begun in January of this year when Obama issued an executive order directing each executive agency to reassess its regulatory requirements. The federal government's regulatory system “must identify and use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends,” Obama's executive order stated.
Among the announced reforms, the Department of Health and Human Services will eliminate some reporting requirements placed on hospitals, which could save $4 billion over 5 years, and the Internal Revenue Service will streamline tax reporting requirements, which could save up to 55 million hours in annual paperwork burdens.
“We will continue to eliminate unjustified regulatory costs, and thus strengthen our economy, while taking sensible, cost-effective, evidence-based steps to protect public health and welfare,” Sunstein wrote.
Republicans often criticize Obama and Democrats for over-burdening American businesses with too much regulation.
In a recent op-ed for The Washington Post, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) wrote, “the Obama administration’s anti-business, hyper-regulatory, pro-tax agenda has fueled economic uncertainty and sent the message from the administration that 'we want to make it harder to create jobs.'
“There is no other conclusion for policies such as the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations, including the 'Transport Rule,' which could eliminate thousands of jobs, or the ozone regulation that would cost upward of $1 trillion and millions of jobs in the construction industry over the next decade.”
In response to Tuesday's announcement, Cantor, in a press release, said, “Today the White House announced the outcome of its government wide review, and the results are underwhelming. Every day, business people and job creators cope with burdensome regulations that have a negative impact on both jobs and our economy, and again the President seems reluctant to do everything in his power to help them.”
Cantor also said the Republicans will be working on their own legislation to reduce regulation on businesses, including repealing “the ‘3 percent withholding rule,’ which serves as an unnecessary tax increase on those who do business with the government,” and, “several of [the Environmental Protection Agency's] proposed regulations that inhibit jobs in areas as varied as cement and farm dust.”
Some liberal interest groups, on the other hand, have accused the Obama administration of making these steps just to curry favor with the business community.
“It’s worrisome because it suggests the White House is going to ease up on enforcement and slow down on health, safety and environmental protections,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman told The Washington Post.
Obama is on vacation and did not personally make a statement about the changes, but he will announce a new jobs plan in September.
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has a website, Reginfo.gov, where you can track and read more about the changes being made.