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Strangulation by regulation

By Alan Caruba
web posted January 24, 2011

On Tuesday, January 18, I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call initiated by the Office of Management and Budget to roll out President Obama's executive order regarding the revision of the federal government's massive regulatory morass.

On the same day, the Wall Street Journal had published President Obama's commentary "Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System" in which, at one point, noting that the FDA had found saccharin to be safe, he lauded the Environmental Protection Agency for eliminating its ruling that saccharin was a dangerous chemical.

Steven Milloy of Junk Science.com noted that, while the Food and Drug Administration "considers carbon dioxide to be safe for human consumption in soft drinks, yet the EPA is regulating it as a threat to the public welfare under the Clean Air Act. How about rollin' that one back?" The EPA has, in its short history, generated more regulations than any other comparable government agency. The EPA is not about science. It's about power over every aspect of our lives.

EPA regulations regarding carbon dioxide will impose crushing financial burdens on any and all use of electricity and is utterly devoid of any scientific justification. The EPA's justification is that CO2 causes global warming—which it does not—because there is NO global warming.

The conference call featured OMB Director Jack Lew and the president's regulatory "czar" Cass Sunstein who has been described as a liberal activist judge who believes free speech needs to be limited for the "common good" and has ruled against personal freedoms including private gun ownership.

Both kept repeating the "talking points" for the executive order, emphasizing "opportunities for public participation and public comment" and "to make sure that regulations are driven by real science."

This latter attribute has been sorely missing among the many Obama appointees such as his science "czar" John Holdren, his environmental "czar" Carol Browner, and his choice to head the Energy Department, is a true believer in global warming. Some of the opinions expressed by these appointees have bordered on lunacy.

The other meme repeated throughout the conference call was that of "jobs." In the run-up to the 2012 elections, Obama will say "jobs" a million times despite or because of the obvious fact that the nation is at Depression-level rates for unemployment.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute that closely tracks the impact of federal regulations on business and industry in America was not taken in by the executive order or the rhetoric surrounding it. "This executive order is hardly a war on red tape, and no affected businesses or consumers are going to be able to sue anybody to force compliance—it's just an 'order' to agencies to behave."

The CEI noted that "Both balancing safety against economic growth and requiring a review of existing rules are features of President Clinton's EO 12866, which Obama reaffirmed while repealing Bush's EOs 13258 and 13422."

CEI noted that "The number of rules in the pipeline at agencies has surged in the past year, from 4,041 at the end of 2009 to 4,225 now, as will be detailed in CEI's upcoming 'Ten Thousand Commandments' report. 'Major' rules, those expected to cost over $100 million annually, have experienced an even greater surge."

When one considers that Obamacare constituted a massive expansion of regulation and that the House has just voted to repeal it, Obama's executive order looks like window-dressing to hide the fact that this administration, thus far, has engaged in piling on regulations that the public has, in poll after poll, rejected.

This executive order is as empty as all of Obama's other many promises. ESR

Alan Caruba writes a daily blog at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. An author, business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, 2011

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