Many Oklahomans know the cost of basic items such as food, insurance, banking and consumer goods continue to rise, but some might not realize many of the cost increases are directly connected to new regulatory costs passed on to consumers. The federal government is eager to regulate every action of our lives, but the result of this accelerating federal regulatory activity is not good for our collective bottom line.
The recent national Gross Domestic Product announcement of a measly 1.5 percent growth for the third quarter shows that the American economy is still sluggish. The rate of regulations has something to do with this. The Obama administration is on a record pace for creating new regulation. Most Americans don’t follow federal agency actions or the Federal Register, so the pace of regulation is going largely unnoticed.
The rule-making process often occurs quietly in Washington. For example, there were nearly 51 new regulations created for every law passed in 2013. Specifically, 72 laws were passed and 3,659 rules were issued, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The Obama administration is using regulation to achieve its policy agenda. What it cannot get done through legislation is pushed through regulation or executive action. In 2013, the administration enacted 26 new economically significant major rules, which is twice the annual average of President George W. Bush.
Many regulations are important for safety. But, the federal government has too many unnecessary and burdensome regulations that have real-world impacts that limit freedom and economic opportunity for Oklahomans of all socioeconomic levels. Excessive energy regulations result in higher energy bills, which disproportionally harm poor people. Unmanageable regulations drain operating business resources, which can lead to job cuts. The list goes on. It is time for the rapid expansion of regulations to stop.
Part of the problem with the outrageous rate of regulations is the process by how they are created. To address this, I have introduced a bill that would allow Americans to participate more, and earlier, in the regulatory process. The regulatory process is often complicated and wonky, but it’s important for the American people to participate in the process while regulations are being created. Our government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Regulations should not be forced on the people — they should be created by the people.
Right now, regulations are proposed from an agency, and the public is offered an opportunity to give input afterwards. My legislation would bring the American people into the process while it’s still being created, and it forces agencies to establish a clear rationale for why the regulation is needed.
My bill, the Early Participation in Regulations Act (S. 1820), which recently passed committee with bipartisan support, forces agencies to take a deep breath, of sorts, before beginning the process of rulemaking for “major” rules with economic impacts of $100 million. This bill will force agencies to describe the problem it seeks to solve and the legal authority under which it may do so; identify easier alternative ways to solve the problem; and define the agency’s overall regulatory objective and how it plans to measure that objective.
Good rulemaking requires thorough preparation and thoughtful deliberation, and the Early Participation in Regulations Act requires as much of agencies.
Bad regulations make it harder to start a business, harder to expand a company, and it increases prices for everyone. To return to a better economy, regulations must be of the people, for the people, and by the people.
Sen. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management.