Human Events Blog

The $10 Billion Regulatory Rollback

As reported by the Associated Press, the Obama Administration has announced a plan to trim government regulations, designed to “save businesses up to $10 billion over the next five years and spur job growth in the private sector.”

$2 billion per year isn’t a very significant portion of a $14 trillion annual Gross Domestic Product, but surely every little bit helps.  What sort of regulations are we talking about here?

The Obama administration disclosed plans Tuesday to cut or roll back hundreds of federal regulations, including some that will streamline tax forms at the Internal Revenue Service, let railroad companies pass on installing expensive new technology, and speed up the visa process for low-risk visitors to the U.S.

All righty then!  Reduced federally-mandated costs for railroads, easier to file taxes with the IRS, and faster visas for foreign visitors.  Sounds like a job-creating economic bonanza!  What else?

Many of the regulatory reforms are designed to help small businesses, the administration said. Those include accelerating payments to as many as 60,000 small businesses that have contracts with the Department of Defense, and requiring the Small Business Administration to adopt a single electronic application in order to reduce paperwork burdens.

Awesome!  Small businesses who work for the government will get paid faster!  Jobs will burst forth like water from a fire hydrant!

How many different electronic applications did the SBA formerly have, and why did they wait until now to consolidate them?  For that matter, if all this regulatory rollback is going to save two billion dollars a year, why didn’t we do it sooner?

Obama called for federal agencies to scrutinize their existing regulations after his party suffered sweeping losses in the 2010 elections. The president acknowledged at the time that his relationship with the business community had soured, and he vowed to scrap “dumb” rules that were hindering private sector growth.

So this is only happening because of those Tea Party “terrorists.”  Good thing they were too stupid to appreciate the magnificence of Obama, as boilerplate Democrat rhetoric claimed during the midterm elections!  Otherwise, we’d still have scads of redundant SBA applications, and the railroads would be forced to buy expensive equipment they apparently don’t need.

This is all so wonderful that even Obama’s “regulatory czar” is overwhelmed:

Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said the savings for businesses will give the private sector an opportunity to create new jobs. But Sunstein said he had no estimates on how much help the regulatory reforms would provide.

What?  Why doesn’t Czar Sunstein have any estimates for the economic value of these reforms?  Isn’t that his job?  The Obama crowd generally claims it can predict and control the behavior of the economy for decades in advance.  The entire rationale behind its trillion-dollar bailouts, takeovers, and “stimulus” plans is that Obama functionaries are smarter and more prescient than mere private-sector bumpkins.  How come they can’t put some price tags on this exciting new initiative?  Are they waiting for Obama to come back from vacation in Martha’s Vineyard and do it himself?

I guess we should applaud this as a step in the right direction from the authors of ObamaCare, a bill that generated almost 500 pages of regulations from only six of its 2700 pages.  One business owner estimated that complying with a single ObamaCare regulation would cost over $1.5 million.  They’re looking at up to $35 million in increased health-care costs, causing them to halt their growth and start considering layoffs. 

I’m sure those burdens will be more than offset by streamlined tax forms and expedited visas.  Be fruitful and multiply, small businessmen!  

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