President Obama's much-praised efforts at regulatory reform remain a sham. This past week, while the President traveled overseas, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in conjunction with rolled out its review of proposed changes to government regulations.
The reform will affect at least 30 federal agencies and is designed to "always consider costs and ways to reduce burdens for American businesses when developing rules; expand opportunities for public participation and public comment; and ensure that regulations are driven by real science." An elegant White House web page, accompanied by an online, explanatory video, supported by an in-person appearances from OMB Director Jacob Lew and Cass Sunstein, and countless, premature victory laps around Washington cannot disguise the emptiness of many of the proposed reforms. For, what has been released is just the plan for the plan.
According to the hype, after 120 days of effort, federal agencies have come forward with "groundbreaking" ideas--not for ways to cut costs to taxpayers by reducing regulations--but with ideas on how to generate ideas on how to implement potential regulatory review and reform.
What a lot of hullabaloo about something that hasn't happened, and which, if the timelines identified in the 30 agency plans are anything to go by, will not happen until 2012--long after the current debt ceiling has exploded and too late to provide significant contributions to the federal budget and deficit debate.
Any talk from Sunstein about billions in savings is premature at best and possibly constitutes a deliberate attempt at fraud since changes will be proposed to be implemented in 2012 or later--so that it will be difficult to measure accountability and results until long after the November 2012 presidential election.
Reading some of the agency plans housed on the White House website shows that much of what the White House is calling an "unprecedented, government-wide review" is little more than a rehash of policies, planning and strategies proposed during the Clinton and Bush Administrations. Many of those actions, which were identified by Obama's predecessors, have been left languishing during the Obama Administration because they called for tough actions.
Every time it seems is if the Obama Administration cannot sink any lower in its efforts to deceive the American taxpayer, the limbo stick comes out, and Americans get to see, once again, just how low the Obama Administration can go. Team Obama's Regulations Review seems to be a colossal fraud, during the course of which, agencies are actually increasing the regulations affecting individuals and businesses.
The Regulations Review process is adding to the size of government by creating new review committees, adding to the cost of government because none of these review bodies operate free of cost, and Sunstein and his team seem to be banking on the fact that few will read the hollow reports, so that the Obama Administration can present their "savings" howsoever they choose.
Then there is the issue of transparency. For example, the Department of Education's report along with 29 others listed on the White House site can only be commented on by providing personal Facebook information, thus eliminating commenter anonymity, which will certainly affect the content of the feedback, and forcing non-Facebook users to search for alternative means to provide comments to the Obama Administration.
In another example, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) report of regulatory reform spends almost approximately 9 pages of its 12-page report discussing the plan for the plan and spends less than three pages listing recommended regulations considered for regulatory reform. Of the five reforms listed, three of the five comprise regulation reforms were begun and completed during the Bush Administration.
One of the recommendations (#4, p.10) a review of the GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) pricing clause was an idea conceived, a Blue ribbon commission formed and funded and with findings completed during the previous Administration. These findings from the independent commission have been waiting for the current GSA Administrator to act upon for the past two years.
Instead, at no small expense to the American taxpayer, the current team at GSA seems to be saying: let's just kick that can down the road because confronting the challenges of this out-of-date, ineffective rule is just too scary. So, in this plan for the plan, the current team at GSA promises to look at the pricing clause problem with a date uncertain in 2012 for possible resolution. In the case of GSA's blatant misrepresentation, claiming credit for proposing new and "unprecedented" regulatory reform reviews based partly on a recommendation that the Obama Team will launch the Pricing Clause review is nothing other than a fraud, and an easily exposed one at that.
By contrast, the Department of Education report and the Department of Homeland Security report identify in their reports that much of the to-be-discussed regulatory reform was initiated during the Bush Administration.
For the Obama Administration to claim that the Regulatory Review chicanery comprises a "defining moment" is an insult to the American taxpayer who has to foot the bill, and the folks in government who have put their names on these reports should be ashamed.