George Will Makes the Case for the REINS Act

In his column today, George Will makes the case for Congress to take responsibility for the enormous costs which regulation imposes on American businesses and consumers. Specifically, he favors the REINS Act, sponsored by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.).

[Davis’s] Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act would redress constitutional imbalance and buttress the rule of law by compelling Congress to take responsibility for the substance that executive rulemaking pours into the sometimes almost empty vessels that Congress calls “laws.”

The 165,000 pages of the Code of Federal Regulations contain tens of thousands of rules promulgated by largely unaccountable agencies that churn out more than a thousand new mandates a year. According to the Small Business Administration, regulations cost the economy about $1.75 trillion, almost twice the sum of income tax receipts.

Davis says small businesses are spending $10,500 per employee on regulatory compliance. REINS would require Congress to vote on a resolution of approval concerning every “major” ($100 million economic impact) regulation. There are 212 such among the 4,128 regulations currently in the pipeline from unelected executive agencies. If the vote REINS requires did not occur within 70 days, the regulation would die.

Indeed, CEI’s Wayne Crews has explained another need for the REINS Act: reaffirming Congress’s and the President’s constitutional role.

Congress certainly has over-delegated power to agencies (In that sense, REINS is really a form of Congressional reform rather than executive reform). But alongside over-delegation, there’s outright usurpation such that Congress has to actually try to pass a law to stop an agency from doing what it wasn’t empowered to do in the first place, as Congress was reduced to attempting (it failed) with the FCC’s neutrality rules.

Further, the President doesn’t sign regulatory laws per the “presentment” clause of the Constitution.

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The bottom line is this. REINS does not unconstitutionally “allow” a unicameral “blockage” of law; it validates bi-cameral affirmation and presidential presentment.

For more on the costs that the hidden tax of regulation imposes on Americans, see the recently released 2012 edition of CEI’s annual survey of the federal state, Ten Thousand Commandments.