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Monday, November 28, 2016
Administration to push nearly 100 new regulations before Obama leaves
According to this story in Politico, the Obama administration is going to arrogantly ignore the results of the election and seek to implement 98 new regulations from a dozen differernt agencies. At least 17 of those regulations are considered "economically significant," meaning they will have an impact on business of at least $100 million.
The good news is that Donald Trump and the GOP Congress will be able to cancel or repeal all of them.
Regulations on commodities speculation, air pollution from the oil industry, doctors' Medicare drug payments and high-skilled immigrant workers are among the rules moving through the pipeline as Obama's administration grasps at one last chance to cement his legacy. So are regulations tightening states' oversight of online colleges and protecting funding for Planned Parenthood.
Also moving ahead are negotiations on an investment treaty with China and decisions by the Education Department on whether to offer debt relief to students at defunct for-profit colleges. The Department of Transportation may also go ahead with a ban on cellphone calls on commercial flights and a rule requiring that most freight trains have at least two crew members on duty.
Some agencies are pulling back, fearful that Trump and the GOP-led Congress will use a seldom-invoked legislative tool to permanently wipe out their 11th-hour regulations. For example, the Interior Department has failed to release a long-awaited rule to protect streams from coal mining pollution - and indications are it might never issue it.
But other agencies have signaled full steam ahead despite the threat of Republicans consigning their work to oblivion, in a dynamic that will be crucial to deciding how much of Obama's legacy survives the ascendant Trump era.
"As I've mentioned to you before, we're running - not walking - through the finish line of President Obama's presidency," Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy wrote agency employees the day after the Nov. 8 election. "Thank you for taking that run with me. I'm looking forward to all the progress that still lies ahead."
As many as 98 final regulations under review at the White House as ofNov. 15 could be implemented before Trump takes office. Seventeen regulations awaiting final approval are considered "economically significant," with an estimated economic impact of at least $100 million a year.
Miffed congressional leaders are warning the agencies to halt their work on so-called midnight regulations, specifically objecting to Obama's call earlier this year for "audacious executive action." In a letter to agency heads on Nov. 15, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and every House committee chairman cautioned them "against finalizing pending rules or regulations in the Administration's last days."
"Should you ignore this counsel, please be aware that we will work with our colleagues to ensure that Congress scrutinizes your actions - and, if appropriate, overturns them."
President Obama has increased the regulatory burden on American business more than any other president in history. Just last year, his rules added $22 billion to the cost of doing business, making a grand total of more than $100 billion in additional costs in seven years.
The effects of this rampant rulemaking are widespread. Among them: higher energy rates from the Environmental Protection Agency's "Clean Power Plan"; increased food prices for both people and pets as a result of excessively prescriptive food production standards; restricted access to credit for consumers and small businesses under Dodd–Frank financial regulations; fewer health care choices and higher medical costs because of the Affordable Care Act; and reduced Internet investment and innovation under the network neutrality rules dictated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
President Obama rarely lets an occassion pass without mentioning his commitment to creating high-paying jobs for American workers. If that's true, why does his administration create a Byzantine maze of rules that is crushing job creation? No doubt Hillary Clinton would have been worse, making any promise from Democrats to create jobs a sick joke.
All administrations seek to cement their legacy by rushing through new regulations at the end of a president's term. But after nearly eight years of record-setting rule-making, the Obama administration should have left well enough alone.