Regulatory Reform, the First Step towards Prosperity
Washington D.C.-I hear it every day. Whether in my hometown of Williamsport, across the 10th district in Honesdale or in the nation’s capital, talk of onerous regulations saturates my conversations – and that was well before I became Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.
People’s dealings with the federal regulatory system, from the Department of Agriculture to the Environmental Protection Agency, have become tiresome, combative and unbecoming of a government they expect to be efficient and proficient in their designated tasks given the amount of money they fork over to keep it afloat.
That is just the crux of this issue: money. Americans pay taxes, a lot of them, and the federal government spends that cash to prop-up federal departments and agencies that end up dissolving the very bottom lines of families and small businesses.
For example, since 2007 the federal government issued 2,623 new regulations on the agricultural industry alone. Those regulations cost the American taxpayer $759.9 billion. It gets worse; those regulations resulted in over 470 million, yes, million, paperwork hours.
Paperwork. The absolute last thing farmers and dairy producers in our communities want to deal with after rising at dawn to begin the important work of feeding America.
If that lump wasn’t hard enough to swallow, consider this: since January of 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency imposed 31 new regulations on American agriculture costing us a whopping $46.6 billion in lost production. This cuts into man-hours resulting in lost profits, all to quench the government’s thirst to regulate.
The list goes on and it is utterly unacceptable.
At this point, some folks may think I am proposing pushing the “regulatory pendulum” towards the opposite direction. I am not.
By now, folks know I came from the manufacturing sector. I worked the production lines and knew then, our government was headed towards an overly complicated and colossal regulatory system. After I went to school and got my law degree, things got worse. But the legal system reinforced one valuable lesson I learned in my factory days: the facts do not lie.
The facts are indisputable. Some on the left insist more regulations will fix just about everything ailing our woes, America’s economy, though resilient and durable, is at a tipping point. We can ill afford to impose any more regulatory burdens on ourselves.
Failure to comb the books of every department and agency, line by line, is irresponsible. As the new Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, that is my exact mission. That mission is guided by one simple principle; if the regulation does not help the economy grow then it should be replaced with something smarter.
Smart, highly specific, and thoroughly studied regulatory frameworks combined with responsive and cooperative regulators are indicative of a world economic superpower. America should take it one step further by imposing mandatory reviews of our regulatory processes. We ought to conduct those reviews on a consistent basis thereby demonstrating to the American people Congress’s willingness to adopt regulations that empower and protect our economy, not saddle it with more pencil-pushing bureaucrats, paperwork and wasted tax dollars.
With that direction in mind and determination in our hearts, my colleagues and I have already proposed several pieces of commonsense, and yes, bipartisan legislation to get America back on track. Just one of those proposals is the Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act of 2015 (H.R. 348) which passed the House Judiciary Committee on March 24th. This Act passed the House in both the 112th and 113th Congresses – each time with large bipartisan support, and I have every expectation it will do so again in the 114th. The RAPID Act’s mission is simple: federal agencies responsible for permitting critical infrastructure and construction projects must provide approval or disapproval of a project in a reasonable amount of time.
We will not stop there. The RAPID Act is a perfect example of just how simple, bipartisan and commonsense regulatory reform can happen.
I am honored to lead the charge on behalf of farmers, bridge and road builders, small businesses, manufacturers, families and every American. The overhaul of our nation’s regulatory system has been a long time coming. The biggest threat to our posterity and prosperity are the wounds we inflict upon ourselves. Overregulation is our greatest enemy.
This article first appeared in the Webb Weekly the week of May 18th, 2015.