A series of letters solicited by top GOP oversight official Rep. Darrell Issa put the Environmental Protection Agency in crosshairs, urging the aggressive new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate a series of strict new regulations finalized by the Obama administration.
Letters from the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, Competitive Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation all focus on a slew of new EPA regulations, especially the agency’s “endangerment finding” giving it the green light to regulate to stop global warming.
Another theme of the letters regards the sheer size and scope of the regulatory blitzkrieg by the Obama administration.
“The burdens of regulation on Americans have increased at an alarming rate. Based on data from the Government Accountability Office, we have calculated that an unprecedented 43 new regulations were imposed by Washington in fiscal year 2010, with costs topping $26.5 billion … more than any other year for which records are available,” says the letter from the Heritage Foundation.
“Regulations are like hidden taxes. They impose costs that are not readily apparent but are real. Just as the public must pay for government spending programs through higher taxes, they must also pay a high price for regulations – as customers, employees and stockholders,” says the letter from Business Roundtable.
The letters from the industry groups and policy organizations were posted to the website of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has pushed Issa to release the documents sooner.
Issa solicited input from about 150 trade associations and policy groups in December regarding which regulations are impeding economic growth.
The move was hit with fierce criticism from Democrats, who charged Issa was putting the concerns of big business above everyday Americans.
For instance, Maryland Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings, Issa’s combative foil on the oversight panel, said the letters were tantamount to “inviting businesses to tell us what they want us to do as opposed to protecting the American people.”
Issa hit back, pointing to recent overtures by President Obama to top CEOs and asking: Since when is it inappropriate to reach out to business?
“Where were all of Cummings’s and the DNC’s outrage and concern when the president had a CEO roundtable a few weeks ago or the potential inclusion of Bill Daley into the administration for the reported purpose of his relationships with private industry?” said Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella.
One of the most comprehensive responses sent to Issa is from the Heritage Foundation, which provided a detailed list of 20 separate areas ripe for aggressive oversight.
Topping the list is the “individual mandate” in the president’s health-care law, which will impose a fine on individuals who do not purchase health insurance. “Never before has the federal government attempted to force Americans to purchase a product or service, and a multitude of legal challenges to this provision have been filed,” the letter says.
The individual mandate is one of the most controversial portions of Obamacare. However, analysts at the Heritage Foundation once promoted the idea.
Another focus area of the letters are regulations to implement the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.
The Business Roundtable flagged a series of provisions in Dodd-Frank, including restrictions on CEO pay, disclosure requirements of “conflict” diamonds and other minerals, reporting of payments to foreign governments and other issues.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute flagged new regulations at the National Labor Relations Board that could constitute a version of union-promoting “card check” legislation by regulatory fiat.
“The NLRB is considering allowing remote electronic voting (E-Voting), which would allow unions to conduct organizing elections via phone or the Internet. The NLRB says it wants to keep the voting secret, but it would not be difficult for a union organizer using a laptop computer or some other mobile device to pressure an individual worker to vote for the union,” the letter says.