Federal Lawmakers Compile Wish List for Regulatory Rollback

Published December 27, 2016

Congressional Republicans are preparing a federal-regulatory-repeal wish list for President-elect Donald Trump.

U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told reporters in December he is sending Trump a 21-page report detailing federal regulations requiring executive action to be rolled back or reviewed.

The report lists 232 federal regulations. One suggested repeal is of a U.S. Department of Labor regulation known as the “overtime rule,” which requires business owners to pay all salaried employees receiving less than $47,476 annually higher wages for time worked above 40 hours per week.

Target-Rich Environment

Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum, says there are plenty of regulations that should be repealed.

“If you just assume that under President Clinton or President [George W.] Bush we had a normal regulatory environment, that [means there were] roughly 60 major rules [implemented] annually,” Batkins said. “President Obama has already done more than 80 rules this year. He set a record in 2010.”

Batkins says regulations create real costs for everyday people.

“Regulations, much like taxes, have to be paid by someone,” Batkins said. “There’s not just some faceless corporate entity that just writes checks and has no economic consequences. People pay regulatory costs, typically through higher prices, so those costs are borne by consumers. In markets where that’s not always feasible, these costs are borne by employees of those firms, sometimes in the form of layoffs, other times in lower pay. The costs are sometimes borne by investors in lower stock returns.”

‘Shaming Regulations’

Batkins says many regulations passed by President Barack Obama’s administration were intended to score political points.

“There are a lot of regulations by the Obama administration that could fairly be characterized as ‘shaming regulations,'” Batkins said. “There’s a pay ratio disclosure rule that was part of Dodd-Frank that makes all companies give us information on the ratio of CEO pay to [that of] the average worker in the company. That’s just an expensive, $10 billion exercise in shaming corporations over what they’re paying CEOs. There are a lot of regulations out there today that literally cost billions of dollars that are doing nothing to improve the health, safety, and environmental quality of American businesses.”

Ryan Young, a Competitive Enterprise Institute researcher on regulatory and monetary policy and financial regulation, says lawmakers should make it more difficult for government agencies to create and enact regulations.

“Congress should make it less conducive to passing new rules willy-nilly, as agencies will, and do more to make it easier for agencies to repeal old rules that turn out to be redundant, harmful, or work contrary to their intended purpose.

“The regulatory process itself, I would argue, is far more important of a focus than just repealing this or that unpopular rule,” Young said. “If you want to have substantive, long-lasting reform, that is where you must focus.”

SCRUBbing the Books

Young says Congress should reintroduce and approve the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome Act (SCRUB), a bill that would create a bipartisan commission for reviewing, identifying, and removing outdated federal regulations.

The SCRUB Act was introduced in January 2016 and passed by the House of Representatives. The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate, but it did not receive a vote.

Young says approving the SCRUB Act could greatly benefit consumers and business owners.

“The cost savings estimate, as far as compliance costs that consumers and businesses have to pay for, would be $89 million per year,” Young said.

Consumer Benefits

Young says the SCRUB Act would significantly reduce the costs of doing business.

“Every year, it would send to Congress a repeal package,” Young said. “Congress, which seems to have no political will to scrub out the code of federal regulations, could, with just one fell swoop, repeal thousands and thousands of pages of bad regulations, and it could do it again and again, year after a year, trimming America’s $1.9 trillion regulatory burden to a much more palatable level. That would do less to impede entrepreneurship and make job creation much easier and make innovation speed up.”