Obama Orders Repeal, Modification of Regulations

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President Obama Jan. 18 signed an executive order and two memoranda to regulatory agencies that are intended to make upcoming regulations less burdensome to businesses and to eliminate or modify the outdated, costly regulations that currently exist.

“This order requires that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth,” Obama wrote in an op-ed in the Jan. 18 Wall Street Journal. “And it orders a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive,” he wrote.

The new regulatory policy was seen by many as the president's extending an olive branch to the business community, with whom the White House has had a rocky relationship.

Thomas Donohue, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said he welcomed the president's move to restore balance. “No major rule or regulation should be exempted from the review, including the recently enacted health care and financial reform laws,” he said in a statement.

Donohue recently delivered his organization's annual address on the state of American business, citing its overall goal this year of fighting excessive regulation.

Peg Seminario, AFL-CIO's director of safety and health, meanwhile, said: “Government regulations should be reasonable and the government should take care not to impose excessive regulation, but that hasn't been the problem. The problem is the deregulatory approach that the Bush Administration took for eight years, and that left us less safe and less protected. We are concerned that initiatives announced by President Obama will slow down needed rules to protect workers and the consumers from abuses by corporations and employers.”

Striking a Balance.

Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the aim is to strike the right balance between what is needed to protect the safety and health of all Americans and what is needed to foster economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness.

According to Lew, the executive order contains the following guiding principles for government agencies when crafting regulation:

• Consistent with law, agencies must consider costs and benefits and choose the least burdensome alternative.

• The regulatory process must encourage public participation and an open exchange of views, with an opportunity for the public to comment.

• Agencies must attempt to coordinate, simplify, and harmonize regulations to reduce costs and promote certainty for businesses and the public.

• Agencies must consider low-cost approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility.

• Regulations must be guided by objective scientific evidence.

• Existing regulations must be reviewed to determine that they are still necessary and crafted effectively; if not, they must be modified, streamlined, or repealed.

By Cheryl Bolen

The president's executive order on the new regulatory reform initiative is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/18/improving-regulation-and-regulatory-review-executive-order, and the memoranda to regulatory agencies at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/18/presidential-memoranda-regulatory-compliance and http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/18/regulatory-flexibility-small-business-and-job-creation-presidential-memo.

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