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Education & Labor Committee Republicans

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Left Turn: What is the Administration Hiding?
Chamber of Commerce highlights missing regulatory agenda

The imperial presidency continues to decide which laws it will follow and which laws it will ignore. After taking steps to rein in the president’s attempt to rewrite welfare reform through executive fiat, Congress is now contending with an administration that won’t follow basic rules governing the regulatory process. And America’s job-creators are starting to notice.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires federal agencies to publicly disclose all economically significant regulations that are under development. The list of proposed rules – known as the ‘regulatory agenda’ – is supposed to appear in the Federal Register in April and October of each year.

However, the Obama administration has set a record of delay and missed deadlines when it comes to submitting the regulatory agenda. Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, describes on the Free Enterprise blog the administration’s unprecedented failure to follow the law:

Reg geeks like me have been annoyed and frustrated that the Obama administration has yet to produce the Spring 2012 Regulatory Agenda. As we are now officially in Fall 2012, there is no use in pretending that the Spring agenda is merely late—it is clearly not showing up at all. I’ve waited for enough phone calls that didn’t come to know when all hope is lost. Similarly, I have no expectations that the Fall 2012 agenda will emerge.  And if it did without the Spring agenda, how would that look?

Bad enough that the administration is not forthcoming to the employer community that will actually have to live with any regulations, but those responsible for the administration’s regulatory program have also ignored inquiries from Congress.  Republicans on the House Education and Workforce Committee have sent two letters to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs requesting information and briefings, and received nothing but a polite brush off.

Since the administration refuses to provide a substantive response to the committee, the public has no choice but to speculate about the reason behind the delay. Freedman continues:

What then best explains this failure?  Two possibilities arise: 1) The administration is not capable of fulfilling its most basic obligations in keeping interested parties informed. This explanation is consistent with the tardiness that characterized the release of agendas that actually got done: the Fall 2011 agenda—the last we have seen—was published in January 2012, well past anyone’s concept of Fall.  2) The administration is uncomfortable telegraphing their regulatory ambitions for a second term in the heat of a reelection campaign, where regulations are one of  the central themes, for fear these will not be welcome.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s decision to hide its regulatory plans couldn’t come at a worse time for our country. According to the National Federation of Independent Business and National Association of Manufacturers, 67 percent of employers they surveyed said there was too much uncertainty in the economy to expand, grow, or hire new workers; 69 percent said the president’s regulatory policies are hurting small businesses and manufacturers.

Surveys like these offer little hope to the 23 million Americans searching for full-time jobs. The least President Obama could do is help provide the regulatory certainty employers need to put people back to work.

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