Circumnetting the President’s Executive Order on Regulations

By January 20, 2011Labor Unions, Regulations

Federal News Radio’s report, “Obama’s regulatory reforms draw mixed reviews,” provides a thorough round-up of the reaction to President Obama’s new positioning on federal regulations, including the Executive Order, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.” It’s informative to read the comments Cass Sunstein, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

“The Executive Order makes clear that the look back process will occur with full understanding of the agency’s priority settings and resource constraints in a tough budgetary environment. So we expect the agencies will take this process very seriously but do so in way that recognizes resources are not unlimited.”

Sunstein said agencies will have to find a way to do the look back based on the resources they have already.

“I don’t anticipate any additional budgetary assistance for the look back,” he said. “We do anticipate a rule of reason where agencies will be expected to make their own choices about how to balance the cost because in many of the agencies there either is some process of look back and because of all agencies there is considerable expertise about the existing set of programs, we don’t think this will require huge resources to be invested.”

Phew, exhaled the EPA officials. We have so many pending regulations that we really don’t have the budget and personnel to go back a look at the old ones. Carry on!

And at least one activist sees the new review process as an opportunity for MORE regulations. Gary Bass, head of OMBWatch, commented: “Bass said by looking back at existing regulations agencies may find not only outdated policies, but also gaps where new ones are needed.”

Also from the left, we have a statement from Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, “Obama’s New Approach to Regulation Is Misguided; We Need Stronger Controls Over Big Business.” And the regulationphiles at the Center for Progressive Reform (which brought the Federal News Radio piece to our attention) have been blogging their discontent at the CPRBlog.

The head of the AFL-CIO responds with the usual reactionary rhetoric we hear from Big Labor. Oh, if only it were 1937 again.

The Hill, “Trumka: White House review of government regulations a ‘distraction’.”
Bloomberg, “Trumka Faults ‘Pro-Business’ Obama, Criticizes US Rule Review.”

That’s just a feint, we’d say, or playing to the base. After all, as Investor’s Business Daily reports, As Obama Woos Business, NLRB Pushes Union Agenda“:

President Obama may be talking about scaling back regulations, but one of the key regulatory agencies is not covered by his new executive order: the National Labor Relations Board.

Big Business and Big Labor are both expecting a series of major rulings this year from the NLRB.

Actually, the NLRB is not a “key” regulatory agency per se, it’s primarily a quasi-judiciary agency where most of the damage comes from board rulings. But the majority on the NLRB is certainly gearing up for an expanded rulemaking function, starting with a proposed rule on the posting of employee rights notifications in workplaces.

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