On Tuesday, President Obama met with his so-called Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to discuss its recommendations for the U.S. economy. Despite the panel being stacked with cronies and rent-seekers, its recommendations were mostly sensible. The council recommended aggressively pushing to develop U.S. energy resources, streamlining federal regulations and reforming the corporate tax code to reduce the rate and spur international competitiveness.
In his opening comments Obama said, “I’ve personally emphasized to the White House team and to the cabinet the importance of aggressively implementing the recommendations of this job council.” The facts suggest otherwise.
On Wednesday, the president spiked the Keystone XL pipeline, preventing tens of thousands of jobs from being created and weakening precisely the type of energy infrastructure that the jobs council recommended. To quote the council’s report, “Policies that facilitate the safe, thoughtful and timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects are necessary.” But what if such a development comes into conflict with ideologically motivated, powerful environmental special interests? We now know where Obama comes down.
What about streamlining federal regulations? On Tuesday Obama said, “I tasked federal agencies to cut inefficient or excessively burdensome regulations, and … the preliminary results are exciting.” But nobody other than Obama’s left-wing base has found the progress particularly exciting.
Obama touted estimated 10-year savings in compliance costs of $10 billion, or $1 billion per year; even if the annual federal regulatory burden stayed at the 2008 level of $1.75 trillion per year, that would mean virtually indiscernible savings of 0.057%. But the federal regulatory burden is hardly standing still; it’s actually skyrocketing at an unprecedented pace, led by an EPA regulatory onslaught that includes dozens of rules that impose billions of dollars in new costs.
The Heritage Foundation estimated that just through the first half of last year new Obama regulations added $38 billion in compliance costs. The EPA’s newly finalized Utility MACT rule, its most expensive rule in history, will cost as much as $11 billion according to the EPA’s own estimates. That’s more than all of the savings Obama is touting from regulatory reform. More realistic estimates suggest the cost of Utility MACT and other new EPA rules could be more than $300 billion, putting millions of jobs at risk.
An analysis of just this year’s new regulations — and we’re only 18 days into the year — by Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute confirms that Obama’s regulatory rampage continues unabated, notwithstanding the recommendations of the jobs council. Crews reports that in the first 18 days of the year, there are already 115 new final regulations that occupy 2,609 pages in the Federal Register. Eighteen of those rules have been designated economically significant, generally indicating an economic cost of $100 million or more.
The biggest regulatory laugher was Obama’s comments on the Federal Communications Commission: “The FCC, prompted by our request but also due to some excellent work by Julius Genachowski, they’ve already eliminated 190 rules.”