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Three Cheers for a GOP Plan to 'REIN' In Red Tape

Everything the Obama administration has done so far suggests they will not tack to the center if Republicans take control of one or both houses of Congress.  Instead, they appear poised to radically transform America even further, on all fronts, by circumventing Congress and acting in the executive branch.  

The problem has only gotten worse in the months since I developed www.ObamaChart.com to document how the administration is bypassing Congress.  Fortunately, the House Republicans have included a critical provision in their Pledge to America agenda that would rein in out-of-control red tape.  It’s called "the REINS Act," and it would require Congress to affirmatively approve any major regulatory rulemaking before it could take effect.

Regulatory costs are already crippling American businesses.  In fact, a new report out this week from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s office of Advocacy quantified the annual cost of federal regulations at an astonishing $1.75 trillion.  The cost for small businesses this year tops $10,500 per-employee, per-year – 36 percent higher than for their big business competitors.  Environmental regulations are the worst culprits, costing small businesses 364 percent more than their competitors.

Now the EPA is poised to begin phasing in unprecedented global warming regulations by shoehorning them into the 1970 Clean Air Act, despite the fact that Congress has rejected proposed global warming laws like cap-and-trade.  

The first wave of regulations is set to take effect January 2, and because states don’t have time to conform their own regulations to the new federal requirements, they could result in a virtual construction freeze throughout the United States.  That’s just the beginning.  Career staff at EPA have designed tens of thousands of pages of regulations that could ultimately regulate nearly every aspect of American life.  All without a vote of Congress.

The FCC has, for now, punted consideration of its sweeping regulatory proposal to take economic control of the Internet until after the election, based on an outpouring of opposition from the public and from Congress that has made the issue a political liability for the left.  But they could resume that power grab after the election and move forward without Congressional approval.

The National Labor Relations Board is feverishly chipping away at worker rights and devising schemes to implement elements of the card check law without a vote of Congress, relying on recess-appointed SEIU-lawyer Craig Becker to push ideas like Internet voting to allow unions to coerce workers into joining.

Even the two major elements of the Obama agenda that did go through Congress—Obamacare and financial regulation—are now being implemented by bureaucrats who bypassed the legitimate Senate confirmation process.  In the case of Donald Berwick, the ObamaCare point-man, Obama used a recess-appointment, and for Elizabeth Warren, constructing a vast new federal agency called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he conjured up a new czar position inside the White House.-- Both are so far left they would have likely failed to be confirmed by the Senate.  Both are so far left that they will push the already-left wing laws they are in charge of to the breaking point with the most extreme possible interpretations and aggressive agency rulemaking.

Fortunately, House Republicans understand the enormous threat posed by an out-of-control executive branch, and have a specific, concrete proposal to stop it included in their Pledge to America.  It’s on page 16, where they promise to “require congressional approval for any new federal regulation that has an annual cost to our economy of $100 million.”  That would put an end to bureaucrats in the executive branch making major policy decisions without accountability to the American people.  As my colleague James Valvo noted, the idea has been introduced in the House by Rep Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) as, H.R. 3765, the REINS Act. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and 12 co-sponsors introduced a Senate counterpart on Wednesday. 

The challenge of our time is to restrain the size and intrusiveness of government.  That must go beyond taxes and spending to include regulation.  The REINs Act is a key tool for meeting that challenge and an excellent component of the House Republicans’ Pledge to America.

Mr. Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity.  He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, and through www.PhilKerpen.com.

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Phil Kerpen is the founder of American Commitment Action Fund, on the web at www.BookerFAIL.com.