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White House should reject big business fiction that the jobs crisis is due to excessive regulation

Note: The Obama administration today released final plans for ending or cutting back hundreds of regulations. It also indicated that White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley ordered Cabinet members to take a new approach to rulemaking and enforcement. Responses from Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) member organizations follow.

From Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen:

Everyone agrees that outdated rules that no longer serve a purpose should be stricken from the books. But the administration’s overemphasis on needless rules – which no one supports and obviously should be eliminated – reinforces the U.S. Chamber of Commerce duplicitous narrative about regulation damaging the national economy and impeding job growth.

Even more worrisome are the new instructions to Cabinet members from White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.  The administration should be clear about what its new approach to regulation will entail. If that new approach subordinates health, safety, environmental, financial and other regulatory protections to commercial considerations, the nation will be weaker.

The Chamber and its allies are spending millions of dollars to propagate the fiction that the jobs crisis is due to excessive regulation. Instead of buttressing that fable, the administration should be emphasizing the need for stronger public protections – particularly because it was regulatory failures in the financial sector that helped throw the economy into a tailspin and put 8 million Americans out of work.

From Heather C. McGhee, director of the Washington office of Dēmos:

Citizens and advocates for the public interest will need to read the proposals closely and make their voices heard, to ensure that agencies don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Unfortunately, as corporate special interest influence has grown in our politics over the past few decades, underregulation, not overregulation has been the name of the game in Washington.  Even today, organized big business is pushing radical anti-rules legislation like the REINS Act, which would wreak havoc on our economy and erode Americans’ quality of life.  Government-bashing rhetoric may be popular right now, but the truth is that the economic benefits of regulations far outweigh the costs. Safeguards and standards actually protect the American people – and our economy – from “job-killing” disasters big and small, from tainted food to a Wall Street meltdown.

Hopefully, these lookbacks will free up agencies’ capacity to focus on areas where America’s small businesses and families will benefit from new rules of the road, such as stopping health insurance abuses, ensuring safety on the job, keeping our air and water clean and promoting fair lending.

Dēmos has issued reports highlighting the costs of under regulation and the benefits of rules that have improved our lives: “Cost of Regulatory Delay”, “Good Rules”, and “Commonsense Regulation Saves Money and Protects Jobs”.

The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is an alliance of consumer, labor, scientific, research, good government, faith, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups, as well as concerned individuals, joined in the belief that our country’s system of regulatory safeguards provides a stable framework that secures our quality of life and paves the way for a sound economy that benefits us all. For more information about the coalition, see http://www.sensiblesafeguards.org/about_us.