Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Your "Regulation" is my "Protection"

It's no secret that this administration doesn't much like regulations, especially those that might limit the "freedom" of companies to do whatever they want to enhance the business climate, even if a few people get hurt, poisoned or killed along the way. That's the price of progress, after all.

Washington Post regulatory columnist Cindy Skrzycki reports today on the Office of Management and Budget's annual report on the costs and benefits of regulation:
Released just before Christmas, it lists 189 rules in the manufacturing sector that 41 different groups suggested were ripe for tweaking, removal or a new approach. That makes the report a prime source of intelligence on the priorities of Bush rules overseers.
That's the good news. The bad news is that businesses realize that the destruction of our protections thorugh regulatory "relief" is a potential house of cards, built on Executive Orders and regulations that could easily be undone should those radical worker loving, tree hugging, anti-business Democrats ever come into office again. So OMB is consulting with certain business associations about how to make these controls permanent by changing them into laws.

Almost amusing (in a horror movie kind of way) are some of the regulatory "improvements" suggested by industry:
On the latest wish list, for example, Deere & Co. asked that all government regulatory activities be privatized, including the development and enforcement of rules. It also wants the Environmental Protection Agency to involve business and industry coalitions in its rulemakings. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers wants the EPA to rethink its "unrealistic goal" of cleaning up all groundwater. The American Furniture Manufacturers Association asked for changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act rules. NAM said that the Interior Department should tighten its procedures for listing endangered species because they are inhibiting its ability to conduct business.
There are lots more goodies.

What's the purpose of all of this? According to John Graham who heads OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs:
"Our goal is to help business and workers become more productive and competitive while safeguarding public health and the environment. Heavily regulated sectors, such as manufacturing, health care and transportation will receive priority attention."
It's going to be a long four years.