Federal regulations continue to multiply

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 26, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DOUG MCKELWAY, GUEST ANCHOR: Our next segment is on government regulations and how many people in the business community feel constrict growth of the economy. This is from President Obama from February 7 of 2011.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: I've ordered government review. If there are rules on the books that are needlessly stifling job creation and economic growth, we will fix them.


MCKELWAY: Have they been fixed? Go to the website regulations.gov to look at the latest regulations posted, just today, 182 new regulations, seven days ago 356 regulations, and within the last 15 days 982, in the last 30 days 2,032 regulations and over the last 90 days, 5,745 regulations. And in many cases each of these regulations are several hundred pages long.

This is a problem in and of itself, but you add to that the comment period mandated in law, 60 day comment periods, has been shortened down to 45 days and even a shorter comment period.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: At so many levels there's a problem. First of all, the volume, as you indicate, which is overwhelming. If you are a small business you have no idea what will happen with your healthcare costs and taxes and all the other regulations.

The second is the intrusiveness of this and the fact that it really hurts small business that don't have the lawyers and the sharp, the former legislators who can work your way around the regulation.

Then you have the lack of being open about it. The administration has this short comment period where you are supposed to have 60 days by executive order and you are not getting it, which means essentially the executive runs this.

And lastly, you get the arrogance of it. The administration is essentially enacting legislation on its own through regulation the way it did the Dream act and way it did to strip away the work requirement in reform of welfare. So all of these things happen unilaterally, and a lot of these I think are actually illegal and unconstitutional. But even if they are constitutional, they are incredibly destructive of small business.

MCKELWAY: A.B., this pendulum swings to and fro does it not?

A.B. STODD, ARDASSOCIATE EDITOR FOR THE HILL: I want to start by saying that what businesses have had to deal with before the health care law begins to take effect, and that will be a regulatory behemoth to be sure, they spent a year-and-a-half due to obstruction of both parties facing unprecedented uncertainty over their tax rates and everything else have not been able to invest in hiring and new jobs. That layered on top of a regulatory -- exponential growth of new regulations is really disastrous situation given that we're so starved for new growth.

It is a pendulum that swings. We all remember the Democrats and environmentalists complaining in the eight years of the Bush administration about the loosening of clear air and water regulations and all the polluting they were railing about, largely unnoticed, because this is executive power afforded every administration and executive branch largely out of the spotlight from the public. It's not something the public informs itself about. And so Republicans will make an effort when it gets in to deregulate as much as they can when they control the White House again.

But Obamacare is really going to be a new front in the stranglehold of regulation on businesses who, as you know, are trying to do the best they can to convince their employees to take stipend and not be on the health care roles. It's going to be a new level we haven't known before.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR FOR THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Three things going at once, which I think is going to make this an unprecedentally heavy regulatory burden on the economy, unfortunately. One is Obamacare, a massive piece of legislation, tentacles everywhere into the economy besides businesses and the health care providers. So that is as extreme as we have seen of regulations coming up.

Then there is Dodd-Frank, the big financial reform legislation, incredibly vague, huge discretion. And so there are a lot of regulations and a huge number of fights about the regulations. So much is at stake and no one knows legislation there. Unlike Obamacare, which is specific and leading to regulations, Dodd-Frank is vague.

Third is in the environmental area, where the Obama administration did not succeed to get the legislative wish list pass. They do that through the EPA in a regulatory way.

If you put it all together, I actually think the U.S. economy if people would get off its back a little bit it probably would take off a little bit. We have incredible energy discoveries. We had a slow growth for three or four years, investment on the sideline ready to go.

And honestly it's not in President Obama's interest to stifle the economy. If he just pulls back some I suspect we could have decent growth. But I think there are very aggressive regulators in the different parts of HHS, EPA, and financial areas. And I don't know that the president is willing to rein them in and say, hey, let's have some economic growth here.

MCKELWAY: You mentioned the EPA. Senator Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate science committee, issued a report back in October where he said the Obama administration not just the EAP but several agencies are working to find way to regulate the hydraulic fracturing at the federal level so they can stop the practice altogether. The irony is that fracking is one thing in the environmental -- excuse me, manufacturing sector that lifted up the economy. To the point it's not talked about exporting liquid natural gas.

KRAUTHAMMER: And it's the hypocrisy of the ideologues on the left. In the past coal was a big offender. They wanted to kill coal, which the EPA has done. They say natural gas is wonderful because it emits half of the carbon. Now that coal is essentially abolished we won't have any new plants, and now they are going after the natural gas which was supposed to be so benign.

Look, you say it's a pendulum. It's not. It's a ratchet. It always expands. Republicans can shrink it in the future, but in the end, it's inexorable and it grows.

MCKELWAY: Thank you, Charles. And that's going to do it for the panel.

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