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U.S. National Debt:

"Audacious Executive Action"

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

It has been widely reported that White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough declared in January that the Obama Administration would take "audacious executive action throughout the course of the rest of the year."  I rechecked the definition of the word "audacious" to try to get a clear sense of the Administration's stated approach.  The Oxford Dictionary's definition of "audacious" includes "showing an impudent lack of respect."  Words such as impertinent, insolent, presumptuous, cheeky, irreverent, discourteous, disrespectful, insubordinate, ill-mannered, rude, brazen, shameless, pert, defiant, cocky, bold (as brass) and others are considered synonyms of "audacious."  This is not what our nation needs to establish sound policy and will only result in the explosion of government regulations, extension of government control over the economy and crushing costs.

The Administration's commitment to "audacious executive action" is unmistakable in its barrage of federal regulations imposed on the American people:

  • The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) Majority reported that the Obama Administration "is a proverbial regulation factory, set to average 90 major rules per year."  A "major rule" is a federal regulation likely to result in an annual $100 million economic effect; increased consumer costs; adverse effects on jobs; and other impacts. 
  • The JEC estimates the Obama Administration will have issued more than 700 regulations by the end of this year. 
  • This is approximately 70 percent more than the previous Administration issued. 
  • The JEC also found that the Obama Administration is setting records for pages of additional regulations added to the Federal Register for all Presidents since 1980. 
  • The JEC estimates that by the end of this year the Federal Register will reach 182,937 pages, which would span 32 miles if laid end-to-end. 

This exertion of federal control carries an enormous price:

  • It would take 381 consecutive days to read a Federal Register of this size, the JEC calculated.
  • The American Action Forum (AAF) reports that the economic burden of the Obama Administration's record-breaking 600 major rules by the end of July alone is at least $743 billion and 194 million additional hours of paperwork.  Other estimates have the annual cost for all federal regulations as high as $1.8 trillion.
  • AAF estimated this to be a $2,294 regulatory imposition on every person in the United States.  

That is too much.  No one should be expected to stay on top of this mountain of paperwork to run a small business or a household.  Enough is enough. 

I support efforts to eliminate overly-burdensome, redundant federal regulations.  This includes my co-sponsorship of Senator Rand Paul's (R-Kentucky) Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, S. 226, which would require congressional approval of proposed federal rules and regulations with an estimated $100 million economic impact before taking effect.  Currently, a regulation takes effect unless Congress acts to overturn the rule, and the President can veto the disapproval.  The REINS Act would enable more scrutiny of new regulations and provide for the cleanup of current overregulation by requiring agencies to identify for repeal outdated, ineffective or excessively burdensome regulations. 

I have also joined congressional colleagues in introducing legislation to block problematic, unjust rules, such as the "Waters of the United States Rule" that would exert federal control over nearly every stream, ditch, pond and puddle on state and local lands, as well as private property.  Work continues to stop the unjust rule.  This is just one egregious example of this Administration's power grabs that infringe on private property rights, undermine state sovereignty and threaten the economy.  It is past time for this deluge with its crushing costs to stop. 

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