The White House Speaks; Says Nothing, Does Nothing: Business As Usual

By Steve Parkhurst, Senior Editor, US Daily Review.

This is a different sort of style than I would normally write in, but this issue bothered me on several levels, so I felt the best way to address the issue was to blog in this fashion.

On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal ran a story (and I use the word ‘story’ on purpose) by Cass Sunstein. Sunstein runs the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, part of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

Below, you will see the entire Wall Street Journal story, and under each paragraph you will see some commentary from me.

“Early this year, President Obama ordered an unprecedentedly ambitious government-wide review of existing federal regulations, emphasizing that we must “measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements.” He directed agencies and departments to produce preliminary plans to streamline those requirements and eliminate red tape.”

Fair enough, Sunstein is just following Obama’s orders.  We proceed.

“Last May, agencies released over two dozen preliminary plans, identifying reforms that will save billions of dollars. At the same time, agencies asked the public to evaluate the preliminary plans, identify new reforms, and participate in creating a 21st-century regulatory system that protects public health and safety while also promoting economic growth and job creation.”

Government at the speed of, well, government. May. Ok.

“Today I can announce that agencies are releasing their final plans, including hundreds of initiatives that will reduce costs, simplify the system, and eliminate redundancy and inconsistency.”

Hundreds? Now it is getting hot in here.

“We have already achieved a great deal. Significant burden-reducing rules have been finalized or publicly proposed by the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation—and they are expected to save more than $4 billion over the next five years.”

Ok, $4 billion is real money, even in government speak. And of the three agencies mentioned here, two of them could be eliminated altogether, but that’s a story for another day.  “Over the next five years”, that one really gets me. If these are things that can be cut now, do it now. If there is redundancy now, stop it now.

“Many of the reforms focus on small business. For example, the Department of Defense recently issued a new rule to accelerate payments on contracts to as many as 60,000 small businesses, thus improving their cash flow in an economically difficult time. The Small Business Administration is adopting a single electronic application to reduce the paperwork burden now imposed on certain lenders, which in turn will benefit borrowers who seek relatively small amounts of capital to grow and succeed.”

So what you have here is government sending out money it already owes, just a little bit quicker. Wow. Now this is getting good. These people have me wondering what reform might actually look like if it ever happens.

“The reforms announced today span a wide range:”

“• The Department of Health and Human Services will soon propose to remove unnecessary regulatory and reporting requirements now imposed on hospitals and other health-care providers, potentially saving $4 billion over the next five years.”

“Soon propose to remove” ok, that means it may not happen.  “Potentially saving $4 billion”, again over five years. These people never commit to anything in the way of cuts, do they?

“• The Department of Labor is finalizing a rule to simplify and improve hazard warnings for workers, likely saving employers more than $2.5 billion over the next five years without compromising safety.”

Again, “over the next five years”, now I’m starting to get suspicious. “Simplify and improve hazard warnings for workers”, yes, I do not know what that means either. Sounds to me like something I should be upset about in the first place just for having been there at all.

“• The Department of Transportation is proposing a rule that will eliminate unnecessary regulation of the railroad industry, saving a total of $340 million or more.”

I would love to know what this really means, and I would love to know how long the railroads have been carrying this unnecessary burden.

“• The Environmental Protection Agency will soon propose a rule to reduce burdens on hazardous-waste generators by moving from paper-based to electronic reporting, saving up to $126 million annually.”

Again, “will soon propose a rule” and “saving up to $126 million annually”. Find everyplace that is using paper-based reporting and convert them to electronic reporting…yesterday. Why are we still playing this game in modern government? How many government bureaucrats have a sole purpose of just dealing with paper all day long? Reassign those people now, or get them out of government work and out of the ludicrous pension payment process that they are no doubt soon to be a part of.

“• By the end of this year, the Internal Revenue Service will eliminate 55 million hours in annual paperwork burdens by consolidating reporting requirements and streamlining various tax forms.”

55 million? 55 million hours of annual paperwork? Again, how long has this insanity been going on? You know there is a lot more of this where this came from.

“Today’s plans explicitly recognize that the regulatory look-back is not a one-time endeavor. Agencies will continue to revisit existing rules, asking whether they should be updated, streamlined or repealed. And they will do so in close consultation with the public. Ideas are welcome at any time.”

I have no reason to believe any of this.

“The president has directed agencies to give careful consideration to both benefits and costs, to promote public input and listen to stakeholders, to simplify and harmonize rules, to select approaches that promote innovation, and to consider flexible approaches that reduce burdens and maintain freedom of choice.”

Double-speak at its best.

“Building on this direction, we are announcing today that Chief of Staff William Daley has given new instructions to the cabinet. He has asked cabinet members to minimize regulatory costs, avoid imposing excessive regulatory burdens, and prioritize regulatory actions that promote economic growth and job creation.”

Daley just did this yesterday? What took so long? Oh, it is campaign season, time to do what this team does best, talk big and play small.

“Today’s cost-reducing reforms complement, and do not displace, our efforts to safeguard public safety and our environment. Just this month, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a historic rule to reduce fuel costs and air pollution from heavy-duty trucks, thus promoting energy security and public health while saving American businesses up to $50 billion in fuel costs. The Federal Aviation Administration continues to take steps to ensure that air travel is safe. The Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration work every day to protect Americans from unsafe food.”

More double-speak. This means nothing, this is a little meat for the Left to keep them in the fold.

“As the president has said, “We can make our economy stronger and more competitive, while meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another.” We will continue to eliminate unjustified regulatory costs—and thus to strengthen our economy—while taking sensible, cost-effective, evidence-based steps to protect public health and welfare.”

Well there you have it. It is campaign time and so it is time to put things out there that the sheeple want to hear and see if they buy into it yet again.  I’m going to write more extensively about this soon, more about the regulations than about anything Sunstein or the White House has to say, but I felt like this story needed to be highlighted for the non-sensical, double-speak, fluff piece that it was.

Steve Parkhurst is a political consultant, a writer at his blog as well as a Senior Editor here at US Daily Review, where he maintains the Across The Pond feature.  Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveParkhurst
All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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